Monday, August 2, 2010

The specter of injury

How dependent on our physical health is homesteading!

This was brought home to me yesterday, via a minor injury. I thwacked my knee with a pickaxe. It didn't hurt too badly, but describing it out loud, or writing it, does make it seem both serious and awkward.

I was trying to get a boulder out of the lower driveway. It was, and remains, a big damn thing, bulking up in the middle of the dirt. It sticks up about three inches into the air, annoying the undercarriage of cars driving over it. So I thought to dig around the rock, carving out a trench, and maybe rolling the thing out of the way.

So I used the pick to excavate on all sides, since the dirt was a ferocious mix of glue-like clay and tons of little rocks. After around 50 vigorous swings of axe through dirt, the pick hit what must have been a hidden part of the big rock. Like the classic iceberg, the boulder must have been bigger underneath that it appeared from above. WHACK and the pick rebounded off in a flash, hitting my left knee.

I decided that it was probably a good time to take a break in my labors. Using the pick and shovel as braces/crutches, I hobbled back to the house along the driveway, alongside the fresh earth of my most recent excavations. Ceredwyn gave me one of those Looks, and agreed that, yes, it sounded worse when said out loud.

The knee is ok now, after ice, shame, and sitting down for a bit. But I'll not dig any today.

What does this have to do with homesteading? Just the fact that the ability to work on land - the basics of existing, of surviving! - are predicated on basic physical health. If that pick's arc had been one centimeter to one side, or struck with a bit more force, I could have lost the use of that leg for at least a month. That would have cost us deeply, removing one adult from our labor force.

It reminds me of one reason Barbara Kingsolver's homesteading book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, is so irritating. It blithely presumes fine health for all concerned. Other homesteaders don't do this. For instance, the Nearings are keen to describe their physical health.

Well, this is also a reminder to continue writing...

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