Blip in the Plan

The light was murky and thunder grumbling yesterday at 10 AM when I finished chores and drove out to resume brush-hogging in the back acres. Two minutes later there was an explosive crack, lightning flashed, and I had to jump in the truck and turn on the windshield wipers against the  drumming downpour.

No mowing today, I thought, resigned. I would work on indoor chores.

After cleaning the kitchen, I spent an hour talking to folks at Tracfone. They had been unable to transfer my old number to the new cell phone, and I’d just realized that the new number they had given me could neither send nor receive calls. My new phone was useless. Once again I waited endlessly on hold and kept my voice calm as they told me the problem might take days to clear up. The technician thanked me over and over for my patience. I have no patience. But with children and service people I can pretend.

By the time I hung up, the skies had miraculously cleared. Thanks, God. I really need to get this mowing done. I drove back down to the farm.

But it wasn’t meant to be. I had only been brush-hogging for fifteen minutes when a fist-sized rock suddenly shot out of the back of the mower and struck me in the left leg. The blow was so quick and so extremely hard that I staggered.

For a bad moment I thought my leg was broken. It hurt so much I caught my breath. I fumbled to cut the engine.

Oh my God, I’ve broken my leg, I’m all alone, and I have no phone.

Then I realized I was still standing so it was unlikely my leg was broken. I was doubled over, breathing deeply. I injure myself fairly regularly down at the farm, generally in falls, and though involuntary tears often come to my eyes I realized long ago that when you’re alone, crying is a waste of energy. Though just as useless, swearing seems to be my usual default. Since I rarely curse, somehow profanity best expresses my pain and fear. So I swore.

Finally I straightened up and put my weight on the bad leg. It held me. Then I stamped my weight on that foot. Stamp, stamp. OK, I was fine. Very sore and hurting, but fine. I limped back to the brush hog, flipped the throttle forward, and was about to fire the machine back up when I glanced down and saw that the entire lower leg of my fawn-colored Carhartts was red with blood. Oh.

Rolling up my jeans I noticed there was a tear in the blood-soaked fabric. Now I found a matching hole in my leg along my shinbone. It was only about 3/4″ long but it appeared deep. Blood was flowing copiously down my leg into my wool sock.

Luckily I had been lazy and driven out to the back field, so I didn’t have to limp and bleed all the way to the barn. There was nothing in the truck to stanch the bleeding and only Band-aids in the tack room. I drove myself home.

To make a long story shorter, my friend Joanne, a nurse, thought I might need stitches — and definitely (looking at my filthy Carhartts) a tetanus shot. I drove with DH to the emergency room. X-rays were taken to make sure there was no fracture of the leg or fragments of rock or Carhartt in the wound. The wound was deep enough to be considered a puncture and the decision was made not to stitch it, to guard against infection that might spread to the nearby bone.

While the doctor was anesthetizing the leg with multiple pricks of lidocaine for irrigation, the nurse was giving me a tetanus shot in my shoulder. When I was younger the prospect of needles made me weep with fright and hold my mother’s hand in a death grip, but there is something about becoming a mother one’s self that requires one to buck up. DH was working on his computer in a corner and did not even notice my conspicuous bravery.

By the time the doctor had finished cleaning and wrapping the 3/4″ wound in thick layers of gauze and a giant Ace bandage I looked as if I had been in a war. I felt ridiculous: “It’s really a very small cut.” However the doctor was scandalized when I asked if I could go back to work brush-hogging that afternoon. Absolutely not — in fact, he thought I should lie down at home with my leg up and my husband should wait on me hand and foot.

DH has zero domestic skills. He looked up and smiled. “Maybe I’ll hire that part out.”

Today I’m feeling battered and sore but I’m fine. It’s dark and raining so Lucy and I will have a quiet day at home between barn chores. The mower will probably stay parked.

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7 Responses to Blip in the Plan

  1. Beth says:

    It’s all that cherry, cherry-red, crimson, ruby, ruby-red, scarlet (you get the picture) liquid squirting from our bodies that makes us nervous….even though we are mothers. Right?

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      I was actually fascinated to realize that it doesn’t hurt to bleed. My leg really, really hurt, of course, but once I got over that shock I was entirely unaware of the blood soaking into my clothing until I saw it. When it comes to fear, I think I am just constitutionally afraid of pointy sharp needles poking me … I have to breathe deeply and remind myself I’m a grownup! 😉

  2. Bonnie Morgan says:

    Might you consider wearing soccer shin guards while working that machine? Hope you heal hastily! You needed a day off 🙂

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Aren’t you funny, Bonnie! I was thinking the exact same thing. I need shin guards! 🙂 But for the moment I’ve returned the machine and will weedwhack my fencelines while the hole in the leg heals.

  3. Tricia Park says:

    OMG, so glad you are going to be okay. Keep a close eye out for infection- since I know you will not rest and keep slogging on. A hint, throbbing that doesn’t go away, swelling, red streaks, fever……. no it isn’t the flu….. you have an infection! Don’t call the vet- go to the doctor. NOW!!!
    Hope the phone thing is working now? Did you mention to Tracfone you just posted (on an international well read blog) why you like them? and now we know they aren’t there when you need them!!!
    Let the snow take down the weeds on the fence lines. Next year you need a WOOFER…. or two…. volunteer interns??? You have the apartment!!!!

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Thanks, Tricia! My leg gets better every day. Yesterday I got to have my first shower, so that was a relief! 🙂

      DH has talked about me having an intern and housing him/her in the cabin (I’m trying to get the apartment ready as a vacation rental). Even for a couple of weeks in summer it would be a help. My problem with interns — I had help from interns when I worked at the school farm — is that I generally give them the fun jobs and give me the crummy ones. I was the one who did the slog of mucking the chicken house, for example, while the intern worked cheerfully with hammer and nails. But more importantly, I don’t have any cool things to entice an intern — no tractors or great garden or special knowledge or anything like that. Just grunt work. So I tend to think it might not be possible. But I dream about it! 🙂

  4. Tricia Park says:

    Gee You do know that farming is grunt work right? Not just those Adirondack farms, ALL OF THEM!!!! Hello????
    so let’s see you raised your own meat chickens- and butchered them yourself, milk your cow everyday BY HAND, provide I’d say all the meat your family needs such as beef, lamb, chicken, pork plus extra. You are doing an awesome job of improving pasture- let’s just think of the rye not to mention all that manure spreading.
    I think you should look at what other farms require of their volunteers/interns- hard work the workers get the experience and learn new skills. Now really hand milking the cow is an experience few ever get especially with the scenery you have.
    I’m rethinking our whole outlook on it- asking questions of those with interns even asking former interns.
    special knowledge? oh please you have bucket loads of it- well wheel barrow loads….

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