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Dairy Diary #7

March 2, 2013
The Waikato region, NZ

The Waikato region, NZ

Before lunch Barry asked me to fill the 4-wheeler’s spray tank with 100 litres of Bloat and spray a paddock on my way back to the house. Bloat is a herbicide used on young grass to prevent the legume content killing the grazing cattle.

I went about the job as I had umpteen times before – phlegmatic and routine-like. After a brief but recent spell of rain the weather was growing clear and cheery. The air felt fresh and it blew with a gentle spring crispness.

Tootling along the upper fence line I watched yellow strands of sunshine fall between parting clouds and glint on the surface of the wet grass. Reaching a bend in the fence I turned and climbed a slight incline.

Throughout most of the spring season I found myself contesting with a strange and violent wind that would whip in from the east and try to blow the herd clean off the hill side. But, today it seemed in playful mood.

The giddy winds painted quick brush strokes across the canvas of the landscape and the clearing sky gave a marvellous freshness to the colours – a myriad of blues, yellows and greens. It was the kind of mid-morning that would make you thankful for a life outdoors.

Ahead of me now the paddock grew narrow as the fence-line turned downhill. It led to a small patch of the paddock barely big enough for 6, maybe 7 cows, before doubling back along the bottom. The bottom fence-line ran parallel with the track, but overhung it by six or seven feet.

Knowing what I do now, avoiding this patch would have been a sensible choice, but not wanting to seem negligent (after recent events, I was making a concerted effort not to kill any cows) I steered towards it. Approaching the back side, I saw that the paddock took another turn downward, only this time shorter and sharper.

I gave myself too little space to properly manoeuvre and I’d noticed too late to pull out. I pressed on the brakes but the extra weight of the spray tank rendered them useless and the tyres skittered over the slick turf beneath. Being forced towards the fence my immediate reaction induced me to pull the steering back uphill, but despite my efforts I couldn’t regain full control of the bike.

I felt the two right-side tyres lift off the ground and the bike tilt towards the drop to my left. The wind turned wicked as a wild squall rattled through me like an almighty wave. I drew the steering back downhill to right the bike, but this meant heading squarely back towards the fence. With nowhere else to go, again I turned uphill; and again the tyres lifted into the air. I had no another option, and now I was out of room and out of time. The tyres kept lifting higher and higher; and the bike kept tilting further and further – I knew it was hopeless.

A kind of breathless hush took over as the wind, the sun, the clouds, and all of nature paused and focussed in on the bike teetering on two wheels. I released my grip; rose up out of the seat; and with only the toe of my left boot resting on the pedal I seemed to hover weightlessly waiting for the fall.

The next second I was laying face-up, trapped in a ditch between the bank and the track, watching the bike crash through the fence. The peaceful silence was shattered by two tonnes of machinery tumbling down towards me. It was now as if time was catching up with itself as the next moments happened in a flash of panic.

Unable to move right, unable to move left, all I could do to avoid being crushed was to throw my legs over my head and roll backwards. The bike fell so quickly I had only managed half a roll when its full weight struck the base of my spine with the force of swinging sledge hammer.

The impact punched the air out of my lungs and detained it in my throat. I kicked out my legs and clawed at the dirt. Eventually, after what seemed like minutes, my lungs relaxed and I coughed out a breath.

A frightening numbness took over my body: the pain was indistinct but I knew I wasn’t able to stand up. Managing to regulate my breath I could hear the frantic beat of my heart steady in my chest. The bike had rolled back onto its wheels in front of me with its engine still rumbling. I reached into my pocked for my mobile to call for help.

On almost every day previously my phone had been able to get about as much reception as a bar of soap and so I was relieved when it connected to Barry. Were it not for this mini miracle it was figured I would have been lying there for another three hours before someone would have found me.

Two ambulances arrived within fifteen minutes. The medics cut me out of my overalls and administered a substantial dose of morphine which seemed to put rather a rosy aspect on things.

After an X-ray it was discovered I had crushed three vertebrae in my lumbar spine, and was therefore prescribed a strict course of morphine, codeine, and other wonderful sedatives.

I’ve never stuck to a diet more rigorously.

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From → New Zealand

2 Comments
  1. Ouch. I love the descriptions of the landscape and sunshine. The pace of the writing building up to the accident is really good, although at the same time I was hoping the seemingly inevitable wouldn’t happen! Glad you got help quickly. Mmmm morphine 🙂

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