Saturday, December 09, 2006

Well, the snow was purdy and all, but not without its victims.

Alas, poor Mikey, despite mega-doses of antibiotics, cozy quilts, and a heating pad did not recover from his bout of pneumonia. Poor old Mikey is now buried in a quiet place in the forest where he had recently been able to root about (quite an accomplishment for a pig who, only five months ago, couldn't walk due to his weight issues). Though his diet had been quite successful, Mikey was still a hefty creature, which is how I found myself in a ludicrous predicament yesterday morning.

After having recovered from my exhausting five days (could it only have been five days????) babysitting Bodicea Farm (which, due to the blizzard, actually meant commuting back and forth on icy roads to tend to my horses here and the 25 horses or so, over there....) I decided to move Mikey's body from his shed over to the chosen burial place. Moving him, I thought, would make it a little easier on Bert who was scheduled to arrive later in the day with his backhoe to do the deed.

Turns out Mikey weighed a LOT more than I thought. I'm not a very big person but take foolish pride in my relatively hearty muscles and broad streak of independence... Undeterred by being unable to shift him when I gave a tentative test tug on his back legs, I looped a lead rope around his back feet, threw the other end over my shoulder and heave-hoed wih head down and every one of those muscles straining. He slid about six inches, which I took as a good sign. I only had to move him about 75 feet out of his shed, through his pen, and over to the foot of a suitable tree...

Approximately 144 hearty tugs later, I had covered 73 of the 75 feet, was dripping with sweat, and staggering sideways between pulls. Wheezing and coughing, I spread out a big bed sheet/funeral shroud in front of Mikey, weighed down the front edge with two concrete blocks, and prepared to heave ho a couple of final times to slide him onto the sheet (so I could wrap him in it before the funeral). To get the pig onto the sheet I had to heave and lift at the same time and this, I knew, would require an extra vigorous pull... I wrapped the lead rope around my forearm, worked my shoulder under same, and gave one almighty pull and heard a hideous noise in my lower right back muscle - something akin to what I imagine denim would sound like if you tore it underwater. This noise was followed by about a second of stunned silence and then a wave of excruciating pain as the muscle spasmed... I dropped like I'd been shot, right onto the funeral shroud - at which point the muscles on the opposite side of my back went into spasm... I screeched some not very nice words, and then experienced a bizarre ripple effect as all the lateral muscles across my stomach and ribcage all spasmed leaving me gasping as I tried to draw a breath into my much-reduced-in-size ribcage.

At which point a series of thoughts pushed into my mind like, "If a fallen Nikki cries out in the forest, who will hear?" and "I guess I'd better call 911."

But then, I imagined how the 911 call might go.

"Oh hi - I need an ambulance."
"Where are you located?"
"On a funeral shroud. In the forest. Beside the dead pig."

Good grief. I'd never live a call like that down!

So I opted instead for the deep breathing, conscious muscle-relaxing, there's no point in panicking method of crisis management... Which was really disconcerting with this corpse beside me. I managed to wiggle the sheet out from under me and flip it over the body... which took much longer than it should have, but eventually Mikey was respectfully covered. And, some time after that, I was able to roll myself over to my knees and ease myself to my feet. Amazingly, I was able to walk all the way up the hill to the house and then, even more amazingly, found some Robaxacet tablets. Downed a couple of those (foolishly, this remedy was taken on an empty stomach so I was soon dizzily staggering around the house, bumping into walls...). At that point, did the only sensible thing and went back to bed, allowing the meds to work their magic.

Very, very sore today, but reasonably functional. And, no, Mikey is not still lying under the trees, covered in a bed sheet. Bert arrived later in the afternoon with his backhoe and very efficiently dug the grave, placed Mikey therein, and was extremely kind about the whole episode, not laughing too hard when I told him about my antics earlier in the day.

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