Safety on rural properties
Safety is crucially important, which is why it is mentioned first. Farms and rural properties are both homes and potentially dangerous places where machinery and vehicles are used, where poisons may be stored, where water resources (like dams) may not be fenced off securely from children, where livestock and fauna can be a danger.
There needs to be a constant vigil for children living on or visiting the property, and older children need to be taught how to protect their own safety. The following website is aimed at children’s safety. There is a checklist on child safety embedded in the website.
Farmsafe Australia Inc developed the following farm safety induction tool for farm employees and contractors. It is also a good start point for property owners.
It is useful for someone who lives on the property to have first aid training, which is refreshed periodically.
What equipment do you need?
What you need will depend on the size of your property, what you plan to do (which will have come from your property planning) and how hands-on you intend to be.
Overcapitalising on equipment can absorb funds that could be used for other purposes.
Buying equipment that is too big for what you need can be as bad as buying equipment that is too small and struggles to do the jobs you require. One size does not fit all, as is brought out in the following article:
If you intend to do a lot of your own property maintenance and general developments, it is possible to come up with a basic list of equipment.
First, around the homestead area:
Workshop hand tools
Gardening hand tools
Equipment for cleaning gutters
Ride on mower
Whipper snipper – trimmer
Petrol-driver water pump for fighting bushfires, along with enough hose pipes and suitable nozzles (ideally with on-off controls). These could be mounted on a ute along with a water tank to provide mobility to where the water is needed. Ready made units are available that ‘slip on’ to the back of a ute.
Water pump for pumping water to the house and /or for pumping irrigation water
A sack trolley can be very useful
Around the property:
This very much depends on the size of the property and the land uses. For a property over 2
hectares (5 acres) there are likely to be times when you will require:
A quad or motor bike
An appropriately-sized tractor
Post hole augur
Spreader for lime, gypsum, compost, fertiliser etc
For a livestock enterprise:
Fence maintenance equipment
Troughs in all paddocks fed from tanks that are in turn supplied from dams, soaks, wells or bore holes. (Alternatively, livestock can be given access to drink directly out of dams, but this can create problems with water quality and animals becoming bogged.) The livestock watering system will require sufficient pumps and pipelines. Trough sizes will depend on type of livestock and their numbers.
Yards will be required for livestock management. These could be permanent structures or built out of portable panels that could be hired as required.
Here’s an example for cattle:
You will require the correct ear-notching tool and brand for your property.
For a horticulture enterprise:
All the equipment to allow you to prepare the land for the crop, sow or plant the crop, fertilise it, spray it appropriately (which might need large nozzle sizes if you are applying things like compost tea), harvesting machinery and crop processing and storage facilities.
For an orchard enterprise:
All the equipment you will require to establish and prune the trees, spray them, and harvest the fruit. In the case of olives this might mean a tree shaker. In other cases it may require elevating equipment to allow the pruner or picker to reach the higher branches.
Access to equipment?
You don’t need to buy (or lease) all the equipment that will be used on the property. As mentioned earlier, that would be over-capitalising. You will need to buy the equipment that you will use on a regular and frequent basis – for convenience. There may be other pieces of equipment that you require less frequently (e.g. welding equipment, portable yards). If you are on particularly good terms with your neighbour, you could come to an equipment sharing arrangement whereby you lend each other equipment. This can work if you don’t both need a particular piece of equipment at the same time.
There may be equipment that you only need occasionally. In this case you might find it most convenient to hire the particular piece of equipment. Lastly there are operations that need not only special equipment but specialist skills (e.g. sinking dams, drilling bores, erecting new fences or transporting livestock). These jobs will be best left to contractors.
So, in summary, for regular property maintenance and production use your own equipment, for irregular, occasional requirements borrow or hire, and for work that occurs seldom and requires special skills use a contractor.
If you want your equipment to work correctly and safely and to start first time, then it will be worth the time to carry out the maintenance and cleaning that the equipment requires.
For certain maintenance this may be best handed over to a small engine mechanic or an agricultural mechanic who has the required tools and experience to do the job efficiently.
This is important if you put a price on your own labour and seek to optimise output for each unit of your time. To do that you need to stick to the things that you can do well and hand to others the jobs that take you more time than them.