A bad decision due to fatigue has ongoing consequences for Chris Biddles.

Ten days ago, I received a truck full of cotton wool and bubble wrap. I am completely wrapped in both products from head to foot. It is Waitangi Day and in 6 days’ time I am booked for the total knee replacement that was supposed to happen on February 26 last year. As most readers are aware that operation did not happen because of a dumb arse decision I made because I was severely fatigued. That decision resulted in me smashing myself up well and truly on a quad. This time last year I was lying in hospital with an ankle held together by steel internally and a fair bit of stainless steel externally. The shoulder is held together by steel internally. This time around I am determined to get to that scheduled surgery, hence the imaginary cotton wool and bubble wrap. I am hoping that the new knee will have a positive effect on the ankle which is rather crappy at present. I spent nearly five hours on concrete yesterday and could barely walk by 4.30pm. Think about that readers, a dumb arse decision due to fatigue has severely altered my life. I never considered the consequences of overwork and fatigue, I do now. I was not afraid of quads. I am now. I ride them but am shit scared on them.

I was invited to present to a Beef + Lamb health and safety seminar late last year. I enjoyed it although I am not sure if participants enjoyed the graphic nature of my photographs. Much of my presentation is intended to shock people, I do not want other farmers to make my mistake. Fatigue and its resulting consequences are under rated. I am really disturbed at the number of people that tell me they have rolled their quad but do not seem too concerned because they did not receive the horrific injuries I did. We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves. The other part of my presentation is around the importance of being positive after a major f… up like I had. No room for bad days, only good days. Bad days become a slippery slope.

In January we had a day fishing off the beach, a year to the day since our last outing. I discovered I cannot handle the potholes at low tide when surf casting. When netting I had to hand the net to my daughter half way through the second drag. We still managed to get a few fish. I just need to modify where and at what tide I can cast. At least the repaired shoulder did not affect my casting.

On farm we are incredibly dry. We normally are at this time of the year so farm accordingly. Our water springs are possibly running a little behind other summers. We are fortunate that our main springs, particularly the one that supplies our water ram, produce more water in the summer than they do in the winter. We weaned all our calves in mid-January. This followed our very big week after new year when we pregnancy test, freeze brand and carcase scan. We also do 200-day, 600 day and mature cow weights whilst the cows and calves are at our home yards. It really is a big 10 days. Being the cripple (as my friends call me) I got the shit job during freeze branding which involves putting a piece of stainless tubing in the calf’s mouth which they chew on frantically. This totally settles them down for the two minutes they are in the crush receiving their brands.

The early weaning is a huge help with the dry summers. We now have the calves moving around the paddocks that have a little dry grass. They also have balage in racks. The cows are on the hills and get some hay every 2 or 3 days.

We were very pleased with our pregnancy testing results. Before Christmas we scanned the 130 heifers. They were our complete drop of 2018 calves other than a couple of twins and several with bad temperament. These heifers had only 30 days with the bull. We got 94 in calf which was more than we needed. Pretty good for 30 days mating. The cows that were scanned in January had been exposed to the bull for 43 days and we got 190 in calf from the 210 scanned. We now have about 20 cows too many for calving. A good position to be in.

So now back to my bubble wrap with fingers toes and all other things crossed to get through six more days to make it to surgery that will add to the steel and titanium already in my body.