How not to build a bridge

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body.  But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming …. WOW what a ride!”  — Unknown

Today I added several new cuts and bruises to my already extensive list of accidental bodily injuries. But I had a blast doing so, and don’t regret any of them!

Sheep and lambs
Sheep and lambs

Hubby and I went to a friend’s farm today to spend the afternoon. We ooh-ed and aaah-ed over the newborn lambs, offered fresh grass stems to the month-old calves, and tried to sneak up on the wild ducks to get pictures of them on the pond. It was great fun! The lambs are simply adorable, especially the ones that were only a week old. They’re still clumsy in their movements, like they don’t always know where their legs are or what they’re supposed to be doing. So cute! The calves are startled by everything, kicking up their heels and running back to their mothers.

And then I fell through a makeshift bridge over a 3-foot deep and 6-foot wide drainage ditch. Twice. No, I’m not THAT heavy. We apparently are just that lousy at bridge building. Want to read the details?

We walked through the cow pasture to see the creek. Last time we did this, it was high summer and the creek was little more than a trickle of water moving from one muddy cow footprint to another. But today we could hear it burbling and gushing before we even got there.

The first obstacles included climbing over three fences, so we could reach the cow pasture without entering the enclosure that held the bull. (I’m learning that a lot of farm life involves going where the bull isn’t.) Then follow the tractor path to the broken bridge. Once there, our host suggested we carry some of the beams with us, so we could cross the drainage ditch easier. They weren’t able to hold a tractor anymore, but a person’s weight should be no problem. So that’s what we did.

Crossing the drainage ditch
Crossing the drainage ditch

We reached the drainage ditch, which turned out to be a three-foot deep, six-foot wide, quarter-mile long pool of stagnant water.  Our host went first, and crossed on the newly-installed beams without a problem, except she said the second beam had developed a deep crack running lengthwise while she was walking on it, so we should be careful. I went second, and was a step from the opposite bank when the crack became a bona-fide split, the beam rolled over, and my foot was dumped into the water-filled ditch. I am grateful my other foot landed on dry ground and I could pull myself up quickly. I wetted nothing but my foot up to the ankle. Hubby was still able to follow us with judicious use of the branches of a nearby tree.

The creek was lovely. One great thing about Oregon is that everything is always green! Green grass, green trees, green moss on rocks.

On the way back we picked up a large felled tree limb to replace the broken beam. We put it in place, and again our host crossed easily, noting that the limb bent in the middle but didn’t sound like it was going to break. Again, I crossed second, but this time the limb broke without even bending, dumping me into the water past my knees as I dangled from the branch of the tree I was using to keep my balance. With help from my hubby I pulled myself back up to the bank we had started from. This time, covered in bumps and bruises.

But now what? Our host was on one side of the water, and we were on the other. Our attempts at bridging it had failed twice, and I was in no mood to try again. So we walked. And walked. A quarter-mile into the cow pasture so we could go around the drainage ditch. So we could walk down the tractor path, so we could climb three fences, so we could get back to the sheep.

The result is approximately seven inches of cuts on my arms and legs, five square inches of new bruises in the same areas, and a lump the size of a dollar bill beside my knee. But a story to tell and a day to remember!


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