May 1 2019 09:15 AM

No amount of sugar or caffeine is enough to keep you working safely through the night.

I’m getting old. I used to be able to pull all-nighters with ease, but this past week has proven that those days have seriously passed. I’m not saying, “Oh, I’m a little sore because I stayed out too late.” No, my body is screaming at me, “You fool! What were you thinking!?”

The other night there seemed to be more work to do than sunlight, so I made the conscious decision to go back to work after I got the kids to bed. In my mind, I figured I would be bouncing my happy little butt back to bed before I knew it. Boy, was I wrong.

Before I went out, I decided I needed snacks. I grabbed my kid’s Minion lunch pail and set off in the pantry like an unsupervised 6-year-old in a gas station getting ready for a road trip. I packed fruit gummies, a chocolate milk, chocolate (a lot of chocolate), coffee, and a pack of caffeine-infused gum (which I would come to regret). I’m telling you I was ready never to sleep again!

Out the door I went, ready to tackle the world! I got all my equipment ready and I set to work. Of course, right away I start thinking of my snacks in my “grown up” lunch pail, and as I fought the urge to tear into them . . . who am I kidding? I tore into that bag in the first 5 minutes.

I figured the more caffeine and sugar I could get in me, the more alert I would be. I was wrong.

The first thing to give out was my stomach. There is no stomach, man or animal, designed for such abuse. Then it was my eyes. Apparently, my body was trying to save itself by rendering me blind so I could not find the rest of my high-powered snacks. However, in the end, it was my mind that started to crash. I kept getting slower and slower. My reaction time was dwindling, and my coordination was lacking. It was starting to get dangerous.

I had to make another decision: keep going and risk an accident or park the tractor and start again in the morning. Since I could no longer function, I decided to go with Plan B and get some rest. Rest is not always an option, but in this case, thank God it was.

As the weather continues to improve, the pressure to get it all done will rise. Please remember to stay safe out there and listen to your body before you hurt someone else or your own.

P.S. Caffeinated gum is nasty.

Tyler Ribeiro

Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.