As I sit here with a purple, blue, red, yellow, black right eye, I am seriously considering putting warning labels on various things around the farm. Goat farming can be a dangerous occupation if one isnít alert at all times. And, one of the most dangerous things on the farm is that innocent looking hay string lying on the ground.
Lee and I try to pick up every string that falls off our hay bales, but sometimes in the hurry of the moment we donít notice a string that falls or we think weíll come back and get it later. So, that string lies there, lurking, waiting for the unsuspecting foot to come by and get tangled in it. Or, better yet if it has found a way to anchor itself under something heavy and the other half lies out there in the open waiting, maybe with a bit of hay lightly covering it, waiting for that innocent foot hurrying along.
Then, Wham! You either trip or fall from an entanglement with that hay string, or you find yourself doing an unbelievably wild and crazy dance through the barn, trying desperately to catch your balance. Since you havenít danced that way in years, it can be a painful dance, all that jerking and skipping and staggering about, but it sure beats falling.
Friday evening found all hay strings carefully picked up in the barn aisle way. I was hurrying outside the barn door to continue on with chores, when the most dangerous string of all got me, the uncut and anchored hay string. A hay string that is one big oblong circle. Dragged off a hay bale instead of cut is worse for us than hobbles to a horse. Sometimes you can kick a cut hay string loose from your foot, but the uncut string has got you, once that loop settles over the foot. And, then to have part of it anchored, oh my.
I was hurrying so fast that the string caught my right foot and in spite of my vigorous kicking, it twirled me to the right and dropped me like a tree. I didnít even get a chance to throw up my hands to cushion the fall, but fortunately the right side of my face caught me.
My three old dogs who help me feed, hurried over, very concerned about me lying there acting stunned. They sat down around me considering their options. I rolled over on my back, wondering if I had broke anything and noticed them studying me. It seemed they couldnít make up their minds if they were suppose to jump on top of me to play. Was this play time? Or, was I going to keep lying there and they were going to miss a meal and have to eat me.
Thinking of their options, I decided to hurry and stagger to my feet. Everything seemed in working order. I kept spitting dirt out, and my teeth felt a bit loose, but past experiences of falling off horses had taught me that if you donít keep wiggling them with your tongue, the teeth eventually tighten back up again. So, I kept on with my chores, after cutting that treacherous hay string out from under the anchoring board, of course.
Later on Lee came to the barn and asked in a shocked voice what happened to me. Evidently the right side of my face was coated in mud. Weíd had a light bit of rain that day, not enough to make thick mud to soften a fall, but enough to get good and dirty with. I also had a lump above my right eye the size of an extra large egg. Strange, the goats hadnít complained a bit about my looks. The feed bucket had looked just fine to them.
So, thatís how I got my flamboyant color to my right eye and got me to thinking about warning labels, possibly warning signs. A few Iíve thought of are: "Beware of Treacherous Hay StringsĒ, "Watch Out For Falling Goat FarmersĒ, or "Knee Level Goats!Ē
That last is a good one. I donít know how many times Iíve backed up to look at something and not noticed that a young goat was standing patiently behind me. Iíve flipped over backyards quite a few times in the past years doing that.
Or, "Watch Out For Small Baby Goats!Ē is also important. The little scoundrels will get excited or scared and run right between your legs. When you are still walking and they do this, it can be quite exciting in flailing around trying to keep your balance.
"Beware of Hoses" is important. We water year round using hoses. On our hill farm in the winter time we can drain these hoses so they donít freeze by simply walking up the hill, holding onto one end of the hose until that end is higher up the hill than the other and it drains out nicely. Now when those hoses get covered in snow or get a nice frost on them, one innocent step sends your foot at super speed, sliding down the hose. You either do a spectacular split or find both feet up in the air, level to your nose, as you drop like a rock.
Yes, goat farming can be a dangerous, but enjoyable experience. Just watch out for those traitorous hay strings, and a few of the other things I mentioned. Did I mention buckets? Well, thatís for another time.