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Safety First

So let me tell you a story, are you ready for a good laugh?

We usually feed the animals in the evening, because it’s when we have time. Mornings are hectic, daytime is hot. Plus we make it part of our kids chores because a) we want help, b) we want to teach them how to take care of animals, and c) we want them to learn to be responsible (especially for something that is entirely dependent on them). Monday evening I was taking on this chore by myself. My husband frequently travels for his job and Monday he was in SC. The Boy, wanting to get away from his younger sister, rode with him. The Girl in question was attending VBS. I figured since the boys would be in late, I’d just go ahead and handle evening feeding. Seemed simple enough. I’ve done it many times before. I grew up feeding animals.

Well as you’re aware it’s been hotter than the south side of hell, and so humid you can feel the air as you breathe it in. Monday I had a serious case of the man-sweats (let’s face it’s been every day lately). You know what I mean, like everything is wet, you’ve soaked through your shirt, it’s pouring off your face, your hair is drenched, and no matter how much deodorant you put on you smell like swamp-as*. There’s just no other word for it. All of this was from watering my flower trays and filling up the water tank to carry water down to the farm (I’m just a sweater). That’s it. So I decided to keep my flip-flops on because a) it was so danged hot and b) I didn’t want to put on socks and boots or tennis shoes and c) I didn’t want a blister from not putting on said socks. The main reason we wear closed-toed shoes in the pen with the animals is that Maybelline is very aggressive when she’s fed and will step all over your feet. She will come up to you and push on you and nudge you. She’s not meaning to hurt you, but when you have a several hundred-pound animal coming at you like that, it’s easy to get hurt. However, in my infinite wisdom I decided I’d try JR’s running trick and I’d be down at the feed buckets before she would. Once she’s got her feed she calms down.

Yet, of course, it didn’t work out that way for me.

I rode down to the farm and filled up the feed bucket. I approached the gate. Everyone else just climbs over the gate, but last fall I had a incident where I climbed up a split and rotten board and it gave way on me and I tell you I thought I’d been split in two (and this happened while I had a couple families there feeding the goats so yeah…it’s never a dull moment for me). And, the woven part I’d be climbing up on the gate has come unwelded (is that a word?) from the actual structure of the gate which just doesn't seem safe for climbing. And, well, frankly I'm not a small girl and this is a lot of as* to be climbing up a gate anyway, much less one that’s not structurally sound. So I decided to open the gate instead. I had to sit the bucket down to unchain the gate and step in, and by the time I did all that and chained the gate back the animals were all over me like white on rice. Maybelline was pushing on the gate trying to get to the bucket. Clarice was hollering as usual. Herbert was jumpy and tilting his head up and sticking his upper lip out like he was going to nip. Billy was even right there and he usually doesn’t come around people. I figured, well, it’s worth a try. I grabbed the bucket and took off running.

So I don’t really run much unless there’s some kind of emergency. If I’m running I’m in a terrible hurry, there’s a hurt kid, or I’m being chased. Well, Monday I was being chased, by a hungry 500+ pound spoiled cow and her posse. About halfway through this run I realized it wasn’t going to work. I’m not fast enough, and I was trying to dodge cow patties (which always look dry until you step on it and then your feet are slipping out from under you and you’re landing in cow poo), and I had on flip-flops, and I was carrying a bucket, and I was trying not to pee (I had 2 kids naturally, one of which was over 10 and a half pounds, so sometimes leaks happen), and I could see Maybelline running and jumping out of the corner of my eye. About three quarters of the way to the buckets I gave up and stopped running. Well I was attacked. I had Maybelline pushing and nudging like I was a mama cow, Herbert doing that “I’m going to bite you” thing with his lip, and two goats desperately trying to get their due with no appreciation for personal space. I pushed and fought and twisted my way to the feed bucket (mostly because I was scared of Maybelline stepping on my feet), where I dumped enough food to get Maybelline off my back. Then here came Herbert. He got jumpy and went to kicking, and in the process stepped on my naked foot which really hurt. I quickly poured feed and got the heck out of there, limping a little, with nearly mortally wounded pride. Still I couldn't give up and sulk in the air conditioning about why God decided to make me mortally un-coordinated and physically awkward, or kick myself about wearing the dang flip-flops which I KNEW were a mistake when I slipped them on. I still had to water them and feed the little goats and Clementine, who is still up in the sick pen trying to regain some weight. I wiped sweat on my shirt and grabbed a water from the berry shed, and drove back to the house to finish the job, mentally berating myself for being an idiot the whole way there as my foot throbbed. We hit a low point about two weeks ago where we felt Clemmy was just suffering too much and we were going to put her down. The next day she was out in their little pasture eating. Every day since she's been up and eating, so maybe there’s hope.

I tell this story for a couple of reasons. One, it’s just funny. Two, I want to lament…why did I have to be born so physically awkward? Is there a limit I’ll hit or will I continue to get more and more awkward as I get older? You can bet if a job requires physical labor or me to use my hands at all I will find the most un-coordinated way possible to go about it. It’s a fault. Three, I just want to highlight some farm safety. If you’re ever visiting a farm (or really anyone's place of business), PLEASE heed the rules for being around equipment or a playground or animals. If you’re asked to wear something special, do it. If you’re asked not to touch something please don’t. Watch your kids (!) so they don’t. We’re not trying to encourage fear, or trying to be hard to get along with, we’re just trying to protect you so you don’t end up like me! I knew the risk I was taking (which is worse). It could have ended up worse. Instead of being scratched and sore he could have really torn skin or caused damage to my foot. So long story short, I hope you got a little comic relief for your hump day, and when you go to the farm, follow the rules!

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