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Hauling Hay

August 3, 2010

large loads need large trucks

Sometimes I think that I have covered a certain topic on safety too much… and in searching for a new fresh topic I threw out an opportunity for suggestions and my friends on facebook came up with hauling hay.  

Nate said:  “What do you do when missing a shift while climbing a hill. Or, what to do when the truck stops on a hill with a full load for any reason.  Brake, back up or jump out and let it roll.  Or, ahem, all the the above” 

Lisa replied: “ I like Nate’s idea, What about-what don’t you do going down a hill with a full load of hay on? I still have nightmare’s about being 15 and thinking I should shift—eeeekkkkk I was not a farm girl but a visitor that could drive. ”

Diane suggested: “What about trying to make a left hand turn into the farm while pulling a large hay wagon?”  

And I was reminded of  the summer before last when I was helping to bring hay back from the field using a rather large pickup truck and moving right though the center of town, hauling what seemed like 20 round bales triple stacked and back up to Davis Hill Farm.  I clearly remember how terrified I was heading back up to the farm on a steep grade and having a very open conversation with the Man Above requesting some grace.   I had a left turn onto the farm, but it was flat. 

I was also driving a new-ish truck with good brakes,   had Slow Moving Vehicle signs and had my flashers on.  Charlie had suggested that I gently tap the brakes and go very slow… don’t let the hay wagon go over 15 mph and don’t worry about the cars backed up behind me… cuz I was hauling hay and I had the right of way. 

George Cook,  the tractor safety guy for UVM Extension has some words on this topic.

  • The size of the truck or tractor really matters. The size of the load really matters.  You can check the for the Gross Vehicle Weight rating in your owner’s manual under Towing.  And remember that you have to add the weight of the tailor or wagon to the weight of the load.
  • Make sure the brakes are good before you go to get the load.
  • If it is a tractor, then make sure it has a ROPS (roll over protection) and wear your seatbelt. ROPS are 99% percent effective preventing death or serious injury from a roll over, if  the operator is wearing a seatbelt.  80% of fatalities from roll overs involve highly experienced drivers, so if you have one of those types around the farm, try as best you can to get them to use the tractor with the protection and seatbelt. 
  • Have  Slow Moving Vehicle signs and use flashing lights.
  • Vermont law requires trucks to have safety chains when hauling a trailer (unless the truck is farm exempt) but please use them any how to  prevent the load from running away. 
  • Use the right size chain and hitch pin for the load, you can check with your auto supply store for sizing.
  • Slow down. the hay is not going to go bad or spoil while you are bringing out of the field and cars will just have to wait for you to do your thing. 

 Turns out this is very timely topic. There  was a fatality while haying yesterday in Wheelock.    The farmer was experienced and although not hauling hay, he was killed when making turn at the bottom of a hill and his attached rake rolled onto him.

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