Although Australian farmers are "competitively young" compared to farmers in many other parts of the world, many of them are over the age of 65 years. In fact, the number of farmers over the age of 65 has increased by 55 percent since 1991. If you are an aging farmer, you may face special physical challenges throughout your day.
If you are having trouble accomplishing everything you need to do, here are a few tools and ideas that may help you:
1. Weld a step to your tractor
If climbing in and out of your tractor is getting difficult, consider adding an extra step to your tractor. By welding a step to your tractor, you give your body a much-deserved break, and you make your tractor more easily accessible.
2. Consider physiotherapy
Modifications such as adding steps can help a lot, but you should also take a few steps to keep your body in shape. As they age, many farmers notice they struggle with simple things such as looking behind themselves as they attempt to reverse their tractors. If you have aches, pains, twinges or issues that are curtailing you from your normal range of motion, consider physiotherapy or another type of workout such as yoga or pilates.
3. Mount a hydraulic crane on your ute
Although yoga or physiotherapy will help preserve your range of motion and boost your strength to a degree, these exercises will not make it necessarily easier for you to lift super heavy items. For that reason, you need a hydraulic lift crane on your ute. These cranes can be permanently attached, or you can buy models that easily go on and off your ute as needed. If you opt for a permanently attached crane, it will fold discretely so you can use your ute for other purposes or daily transportation into town.
You can use the crane to lift extremely heavy items such as motors or bulky items such as bales of hay. If you have trouble doing things like lifting the tow bar of a farming implement onto your tractor hitch, you can back your ute up so it is perpendicular to these two machines, and then, you can use the hydraulic ute crane to lift the tow bar into place. For more information, contact a company like Kevrek (Ricon) Australia Pty Ltd.
These hydraulic cranes can be essential for helping you lift large items, but for smaller items, you may want to consider the advantages offered by wheels.
4. Embrace wheels
Any items that are hard to move can be moved more easily if you use wheels. Add caster wheels to the bottom of rubbish bins, storage containers and small machines. Even heavy gates can open more easily if you put wheels on them. For items that cannot have wheels permanently attached to them, make sure you have ample numbers of sack barrows around your property to help move bags of grain, boxes or other items.
5. Hire an apprentice to help
Obviously, if you are struggling to keep up with your farming duties due to decreased strength or aches and pains related to aging, you should consider hiring a farmhand. Consider the extra expense an investment into your farm's continued sustainability. But if you cannot afford the extra expense, consider contacting universities near you to find an apprentice through their agricultural sciences and tech programs.
In some cases, if you are willing to apprentice a young farming student, you may be able to pay them an apprentice or training wage which is less than minimum wage in most cases. In some cases, apprentices may even work for free in exchange for credits at their schools. Wage expectations vary between farming programs and individuals.