Monday, April 18, 2016

How AgrAbility & Vocational Rehab Keep Me Safe while Working on the Farm

     In late 2014, I attended a Women in Ag conference in Columbia, MO that was hosted by the MU Extension called Pearls of Production.  One of the extension reps was speaking with me about my disabilities and gave me a contact from their AgrAbility program. 

     That was the best call I could have made for myself.   The Missouri AgrAbility program has helped me continue to work on our farms in a more safe and creative manner. 

     Their mission: The purpose of the AgrAbility Project is to help increase the likelihood that farmers, ranchers, farm workers, and farm family members who are limited by any type of disability or chronic health condition employed in production agriculture or agriculture-related occupations become more successful. It’s about cultivating success in agriculture, employment, and rural life for people with disabilities and their families. The AgrAbility mission is to enhance and protect quality of life and preserve livelihoods. The AgrAbility philosophy represents the very ideals that define American agriculture. It’s about supporting and promoting growth and independence. It’s about no-limit thinking and the can-do spirit. Ultimately, AgrAbility is all about hope!

     I agree with their mission statement wholeheartedly because I have seen it in action.  

     They partner with your local Vocational Rehabilitation  to find ways to keep you employed and should you need special equipment to do this, Vocational Rehab contributes greatly with that factor. 

     Both organizations are passionate about ensuring we can still be independent, their job is to assess how to do that. 

     They travel to your farm, you take them through your daily chores, the reps ask questions and offer advice of better, safer ways to accomplish the same task. 

     In my case, special equipment was suggested to keep me out of harms way when working with our cattle.  One piece of equipment that has been essential to my safety is a UTV with a grain feeder that sits in the bed.  We have installed a switch inside of the cab to open the feeder door, I pull up beside the bunks and let 'er rip until I reach the end and am assured I have the correct amount of feed distributed.

     Now there is no way to absolutely measure the amount of feed unless you only put that amount into the portable grain bin, but I have been feeding 150 lbs of grain to these heifers for so long, I had to practice a few times so I could gauge timing and how high to raise the bin door.   

     Not once do I have to exit the vehicle and put myself in any danger.  If you are new to my blog, I have severe, permanent lower body injuries from a car collision and three of my joints are now fused. My balance is an issue and my lower legs are delicate.  I, in no way want to be re-injured, but I love my job. 

      This Polaris Ranger keeps me from being bumped over by cows, I do not have to walk on uneven ground, especially over frozen hoof prints and there are no calf hooves flying in my direction.  It has been the most essential piece of equipment I have received. 

     There are some other pieces I will show you in later blogs, but today I wanted to concentrate on the UTV. 

     Here are a few videos to showcase how I use this little masterpiece.  I urge you to contact either of these organizations to help in your farming career!

National AgrAbility 
MO AgrAbility
Vocational Rehab
Rolla, MO VR     

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