Federated Farmers Golden Bay Meat & Wool Chairperson Pax Leetch missed out on attending the National Council in Wellington earlier this year because he was couch-bound. We’re going to leave his story in his own words – a episode he re-told in the province’s newsletter with a view to inspiring other farmers to stay safe.
I recently had an on-farm incident that culminated in my first admission to a hospital since being born in one 37 years prior. My hospital notes categorise my injury as “Knife vs Knee” – I can assure that “knee” came off second best in that tussle. So, what daring, dangerous, risky stunt was I pulling at the time? It may not have been what you are imagining because, truth be told, I was picking flowers for my mother-in-law!
Here’s what happened….
Marjorie (mother-in-law) was off to Rural Women that morning and needed to take some wild-flowers in for roll-call. We went down the farm on my 2-wheeler to a paddock with some flowering chicory. Marjorie got off the bike and I rode up onto a ridge and stopped next to a likely looking specimen. Stopping the bike and leaving it in gear I took out my sheath knife (freshly sharpened after doing dog tucker the night before) and bent down to cut the chicory stalk off.
As I bent down my shoulder hit the start button on the bike and, with it in gear and facing downhill, it started and off we went! I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but I ended up in a heap with a fairly dead-feeling leg. I was to find out later that the knife cut across just above my knee, completely severing my quadriceps tendon and cutting into my knee joint, taking a shaving off the knee-cap on the way through.
Marjorie ran home to raise the alarm. Wife Ellie and father-in-law Peter drove down and picked me up and Ellie drove me in to the quack in town.
Some people like to say that all accidents are preventable and while I agree that a lot are unnecessary, I do not believe that you can plan your way out of every accident happening. What we can do for every situation, though. is to plan for when something does go wrong and hopefully lessen the severity of the outcome.
I hadn’t taken my radio that morning. I was, after all, just shooting down the paddock to pick some flowers. That mistake could have been costly had I cut an artery; even with two of us there it was still a long time before help arrived. Better still, I should have had an emergency locator beacon on my belt. I didn’t need it in this situation but to have that option if you do need it could be life changing! In the hospital ward I was next to a young fella who had had a very nasty accident hunting on his own and he said he would have died had it not been for his locator beacon.
So, for what it’s worth, my advice from the couch, where I am told I will spend three months before I am somewhat back to work is this:
• Make sure you have a reliable source of communication
• Get an emergency locator beacon
• Take them with you!!
It could be the difference between life and death.
Ellie has been amazing at picking up the pieces, keeping the farm running and the stock cared for, all while looking after our new baby and a less than helpful husband. We have been blessed by a huge amount of support from family and friends. This is truly a special community to be a part of so thank you everyone for all your help and support.
The silver lining of this whole ordeal is that I have been able to spend a heap of time with our wee baby Opal, who was just three weeks old at the time of my accident. She is a pleasure to share a couch with.
I hope you all have a really good autumn and stay safe out there.