Everyone has those moments when you think ‘phew, that was a lucky escape!’ Harriet Bremner says we should be doing all we can to avoid those moments by considering the risks and planning for them.

Knowledge is something that comes after being exposed to plenty of different ‘experiences’ in life along the way.

We have experiences that range from relationships, careers, hobbies and life in general.

These help to mould us as a person and help make us who we are right now, in this moment. When I read Mark Warren’s caption ‘Experience is the thing you get a split second after you need it’, in his book Many a muddy morning, it really made me think.

My mind raced back to all those defining moments where I wish I had known better before I delved into them.

We have all had those moments, the ones where you know just how damn lucky you were to walk away from it. I often hear people trying to justify why they are not wearing their seatbelt on the farm. Like seatbelts in general, we hope we will not need to use them and when we are pottering along behind a mob of cows at 10km per hour we don’t think anything could go wrong.

Suddenly, an animal breaks back and you put your foot down to catch up with it, not seeing the bull hole in the long grass then ‘BANG’. It literally happens so quickly and leaves you wishing you had buckled up or not worried about the getaway cow in such a hurry. Left with a head injury and time off work, making it click would have been the simple answer, along with not driving like an idiot.

Terrain changes all the time on farms and yes, flat farms are at lower risk of something going wrong for obvious reasons. We need to be looking at the theory of ‘it could happen to me and what am I going to do to avoid that in the first place’, rather than, ‘it will never happen to me’.

Being able to stop in the moment and assess this can save you from an ongoing injury or the loss of your life. Life and its continuous curve balls doesn’t always operate in an accommodating way. When I think back, my defining moments where it could have so easily gone wrong were good luck, not good management.

This is why we need to be able to stop and think about something before we do it.

Through reading Mark’s book, I realised that there were ways in which he taught about how to ‘stay safe’ without specifically using those words.

This, to me, clarifies the fact that health and safety is something that we should be ingraining in our everyday farming business and not, as I have said many times, something that is done in the office on a rainy day.

Mark runs Hillseekers 4WD and when he is not farming, he travels around the country running workshops. He teaches people practical skills and gives them the tools they need to cope with things like staying within the laws of gravity, how to drive on icy terrain, hills, mud, rivers and more.

Mark believes that one of the first steps you can take to looking after yourself is to make sure that you are using the right vehicle for the job. Not all are alike and if you throw yourself into a situation in the wrong one, it goes pear-shaped quickly. We have access to different types of vehicles, so we need to make sure that we are using the one best suited for the job.

Too often we are putting ourselves at unnecessary risk when it could so easily be done in a far better way that has a good outcome. Think about it like this: if you actually need to really use your seatbelt, what on earth are you doing putting yourself in that position to begin with?

And as Mark says, “To achieve your goals, aim for the sky – but keep your driving wheels firmly grounded”.

Hillseekers 4WD

handy hints:

  • Keep the wheels turning at ground speed – so not spinning or locked up.
  • A locked wheel is a disobedient one.
  • Most good off-road driving is totally counterintuitive.
  • Coming down a steep hill, you can use your brakes to slow the engine, but not the wheels.
  • The most effective off-road driving is when RPM is at peak torque not peak revs.
  • If you’re stuck or in slippery situations, letting the air out of your tyres can give a huge increase in traction.
  • A quarter drop in profile height can give a 250% increase in traction.
  • Take a look at Safer Farms Facebook page videos for Mark’s tips on river crossings and using tyre pressure for increased traction. www.facebook.com/SaferFarmsNZ/videos
  • Please see the Hillseekers4WDnz Facebook page for videos of Mark teaching me some of his best top tips and tricks for driving through rivers.
  • You can purchase Mark’s book from any bookstore or Amazon online as an E-book.