Just six weeks ago, Chareva’s spring project looked like this:
Plans and a truckload of supplies. Now the project looks like this:
Quite a transformation of that back pasture, eh? When we first bought the land, we didn’t venture into that pasture at all. It was too scary. No telling what varmints and bugs were in those chest-high weeds.
It was quite a push there at the end. When we finished the first chicken-yard, I raised the net with three poles. That helped, but there are still areas where I have to duck. So before we tied down the net over the second chicken yard, I decided to raise the net in a few places around the perimeter as well.
There wasn’t enough slack in the net to use 10-foot pipes, but I found I could use seven-foot pipes and still have enough net hanging down to tie to the fence. With seven-footers raising the net at the edges, I don’t have to duck anywhere in the chicken yard.
The pipes are galvanized electrical pipes. They’re only $3 each. Trouble is, Home Depot sells 10-foot pipes and five-foot pipes. I’m well over five feet tall, so I bought 10-foot pipes and added an angle grinder to my collection of Dangerous Tools For Guys. I secured each pole to my workbench with Quick-Grip clamps, then cut away a three-foot section. I stood well to the side of where I was cutting so I wouldn’t grind my kneecap if I lost control, and of course I wore goggles because of the sparks.
I spent most of my adult life living in apartments. My entire tool collection fit in a drawer: Philips screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver, hammer and pliers. Now I own two chainsaws, a Weed-Whacker with blade and saw attachments, a bush-hogging mower, two power drills, a miter saw and a circular saw. In other words, I’ve acquired many possibilities for seriously injuring myself.
So I’m careful. I don’t cut so much as a small branch with my chainsaw unless I’m wearing my helmet and protective chaps. I wear goggles when I use any kind of powered saw. I even wear the helmet with facemask when I’m using the Weed-Whacker – a precaution I adopted after a friend told me about a co-worker who lost a front tooth when a Weed-Whacker shot a pebble into his mouth.
If I’d had the sense to be equally cautious while using non-powered tools, I could have saved myself a world of hurt on Sunday.
See the gazebo in the picture below? We decided to put that in the middle of the fenced-in areas so we can sit in the shade and enjoy the view. It’s one of those pop-up models with a light aluminum frame.
After setting it up, we had two thoughts: 1) a stiff wind will blow this thing away, and 2) it tilts too much because of the slope of the hill. The downhill tilt cut off the view when we sat under the awning.
The solution to both problems was to strap the aluminum legs to t-posts. To raise the legs on the downhill side, we’d use bricks:
I pounded in the first t-post with no problems. To pound in the second post, I had to stand downhill of it, since the gazebo leg was on the uphill side to set the distance. The post wasn’t taking well to our rocky soil, so I raised the t-post hammer high to get good, powerful blows.
You know what’s coming, don’t you?
Yup. As I was pounding, I was looking down at the ground to check my progress. Raise up … WHAM! Raise up … WHAM! Raise up … CRACK! FUUUUUUUUUUU@#$%!!!!
Chareva didn’t see exactly what happened, but apparently I raised the t-post hammer higher than the post itself before slamming down. Instead of sliding over the post, the bottom edge of the hammer caught the top of the post, turned in my hands, and continued down onto my skull.
I don’t know about you, but when I suffer serious pain, I momentarily divide into two distinct beings. One is the wounded, bellowing animal self who’s feeling all the pain. The other is a detached, rational fellow who observes and occasionally comments.
When the hammer slammed onto my head, I staggered for a moment, then dropped to my hands and knees, then saw the world around me going dark, as if someone was closing the aperture on a camera. The detached self calmly observed, “We’re about to go unconscious. That’s interesting. We haven’t been knocked unconscious in, what, 46 years?”
Then the aperture slowly opened and the light came back. “Ohhh,” the detached self remarked, “so we haven’t been knocked unconscious. Well, that’s good, I guess.”
I heard Chareva tell me to lie down as she ran to the house. I didn’t lie down because I didn’t want my head anywhere near the rocky ground. I sat up instead. I don’t remember taking my hat off, but it was off. Perhaps the hammer knocked it off. I also don’t remember grabbing the top of my head, but I know I did, because there was blood on both of my gloves.
While Chareva was in the house retrieving an ice pack and some towels, I did my best to check myself for a concussion. I held out a finger and moved it side to side, making sure my eyes were tracking. They were. Nausea? Nope. Slurred speech? Let’s see …
“That hurt like a mother@#$%*&! How the @#$% did I do that?”
Nope, all spoken clear as a bell.
When Chareva came back, she blotted the blood from my head, then applied the icepack. I’m happy to say she was calm under pressure. Frightened for me, but calm.
We sat there for a good while, and I explained that if a comedian is going to die an untimely death, it may as well look like something from a Three Stooges scene. I hit myself with a steel t-post hammer while she twists my nose with pliers. I go cross-eyed and fall backwards.
The top of my head hurt like hell, and I could feel a tiny chip in one of my bottom teeth – no doubt from my mouth slamming shut when the hammer collided with my skull. My neck also hurt, and there was a pinched-nerve sensation between my neck and left shoulder.
But all things considered, I felt okay. More than anything, I felt grateful. Slamming a 16-pound steel hammer onto your head can end with far worse than a headache. If my tongue had been anywhere between my teeth, I could have ended up screaming, “Thith really @#$%ing thuckth!”
I reminded Chareva about a conversation I had with a dentist who removed two of my wisdom teeth 20 years ago.
“You know, you don’t have thick bones,” he told me. “But they’re surprisingly hard and dense. So take it from me, you are officially hard-headed.”
Hard-headed is probably the reason I was talking to my worried wife instead of riding in an ambulance.
After a half-hour or so, the icepack had done the trick and I felt okay to stand up and move around. My head was still trickling a bit of blood, so I put a paper towel inside my hat. We finished anchoring the gazebo – Chareva pounded in the last post – and went inside.
Chareva covered the wound with bandages. I accused her of indulging a secret fantasy to see me wearing a yarmulke.
I took this selfie three days after the collision. It’s still not pretty up there, but the wound is healing.
Accident notwithstanding, we got Chareva’s spring project done in time for our visit from Pete Evans on Monday. I explained to him that I’d best wear a hat for the filming, since my head a was a bit of a mess. I’m just glad I didn’t knock myself into a hospital and end up having to cancel on him.
On Tuesday, Chareva and I spent some time just sitting on the bench under the gazebo, admiring the view from up on the hill, watching the chickens scratch and peck bugs from the grass, and remembering what that pasture looked like a year ago.
Man, was it a satisfying feeling.
Here are more pictures from Tuesday.