"Everyone has a decision making process they typically follow," Petrea explains. "Some are impulsive. Others follow a checklist. Problem is, when stress enters the picture, many people bypass that decision making process."
Petrea's accident was prompted when the baler broke down in the field. His stressed mind told him he only had one option – get the baler running again and finish the job.
"I was there to bale hay," he remembers. "The only alternatives I considered were how I could get the hay baled. One of the things I didn't think of was just to quit for the day."
Petrea recognizes that the psychology of harvest will likely never change. It's all about mitigating the stress.
First off, Petrea says farmers need to acknowledge the stress. He realizes this won't make it any less stressful, but it may help modify thought processes when things get crazy.
He also recommends making a serious effort to go into harvest with proper sleep. Along with this, a physically fit body responds better under stress. Yes, eating well is important.
Speaking of eating, Petrea says eating too much or too little is a sign of serious stress.
Here's another tip: have a professional golfer's mentality during harvest. When the pros bogey a hole, they're able to push it out of their mind and concentrate on the next one.
Petrea says mistakes are a part of harvest. The key is not letting mistakes build into anxiety over what could have been done to prevent them. Move on and concentrate on the task at hand.
Lastly, go into the field with a clear head. Make every attempt to reconcile family problems before heading out for the day. This is a dangerous job and it requires undivided attention.