Monday, November 2, 2015

Bitten !

I've worked fairly seriously around animals since I was 15. Through the years I've taken my share of hits -- kicks, bites, & knocks. Yup, I've been stepped on, squashed, knocked off my feet, run over, pinched, scratched, thrown through the air, and bitten. That's not including the times I've been peed on, pooped upon, vomited on, spit on, slapped with manure laden tails, etc. I've got more scars than I remember. And I have to admit that 99% of the time it was my own fault. I was doing something wrong. I truely believe that most accidents involving animals are avoidable if the human is smart enough and alert enough. Ha, but that doesn't always happen, does it. 

I'm going to show you what happened when I took my attention off one of my donkeys that I was working with. Oh, everybody thinks a donkey is sooooo cute. Everybody wants to hug and pet them. But I don't let anyone near my donkeys, and for a real good reason. It's a big animal, and big animals can hurt a person in a big way. Most people who are not animal savvy get really upset when they get damaged by an animal, and totally refuse to accept the fact that the injury was their own fault in some way. So I'm not stupid enough to let someone get hurt and then turn around and sue me. Nope. 

When working with my livestock I try to stay totally focused on them. When you least expect it they will take advantage if your attention wanders. Thus after trimming my donkey's feet, I stood still for a moment listening to a new bird song coming from the next pasture. With my eyes gazing afar, the donkey took its revenge. She clamped down on my leg.....hard! You talk about getting focused instantly!!! My immediate fear was that she would try to lift me up and shake me., thus tearing my leg muscles. So I did something clever but also foolish, I shoved my fingers into her mouth and dug it into her tongue. Ok, she instantly released me but I got a finger bitten in the process. Geez, now I hurt in two places. 
From this angle it doesn't look all that impressive. A couple of pinched cuts and a light ring about the size of a hardball showing where the rest of the teeth clamped down. But looking down from the side shows the monster swelling. 
No, my leg isn't normally bowed. All this swelling is what it looked like AFTER I had ice on it for an hour. (Actually I used frozen packs of food which conformed to the leg better.) Without ice I dread to think how bad it would have looked. Yes, that donkey bit down really hard and took a full mouthful of my leg. 

The reason I'm discussing this is not to get sympathy. Frankly, I don't deserve any. Getting bitten was my own fault. But I want wannabe farmers to be aware that live animals are not like plush stuffed toys. Real animals can do real damage, even to experienced owners. Just because you exude love & peace, just because you don't intend to mistreat the animal, that won't protect you. If you believe that it will, then perhaps you should reconsider having livestock because one day you're going to get seriously injured or even killed. If you have  livestock, accept the fact that some day you will get injured in some fashion. It's not a case of IF you will get hurt, but WHEN and HOW you will get hurt. The idea is to keep the injuries small and infrequent.

Donkeys aren't the only farm animal that can hurt ya. Chickens peck and spur you, drawing blood. Ducks pinch and can gouge of piece of flesh out of unprotected arms and legs. Geese can hurt you with their wings, even breaking fingers and arms. Cute little bunnies can bite and scratch deep gouges in you. Cats can scratch and bite. Dogs can too, but they can also maim and kill. Pigs can cut you up bad, mauling you, even killing you. Sheep and goats can gore, ram, break bones. Cattle are even worse and can easily kick, bash, and stomp you into pulp. Horses and donkeys can bite, kick, trample, squash. Plenty of farmers and ranchers have been seriously damaged or killed by their livestock. Even when the animals aren't attacking directly, working with them can result in serious injury when they slip, fall, shy or unintentionally mangle you in some way. Working with animals is not for wusses. 

I'm hoping not to get injured again for the next few years. Yes, I'm hoping to be smarter for a while. 

And if you've noticed, I'm not showing you my finger at the moment. It's got a nasty crush wound. No broken bones and it still works, but it will be nasty for the next week or two. It looks pretty gross. 


  1. Auwe Nui!! So glad you didn't find out how a Hare splint works (for femoral fractures!), but that bite reminds me of a smaller but equally painful chomp on my shoulder by a very ornery stable horse. My fault, of course, caused by idle chatter while I was brushing him down. Next day, though, we went out on a trail ride as if nothing ever happened. Keep up the ice, though, and try to keep your thigh elevated as much as you can. And yes, we all want you to get well real soon!

  2. Oh, my goodness, Su Ba....that looks like a nasty and very painful bite...So sorry.
    Aren't you going to the ER to see about the leg and finger? I think you should!!! I hope the swelling and pain goes away soon, but please go see about it!

  3. This is the truth! I'm glad you decided to write about it because I really believe that people think barnyard animals are Charlotte's Web. Oh boy is that ever as far from the truth as it can be. Working with farm animals can be very rewarding if a person will take the time to learn their ways. We think they will adapt to us and they will to a certain extent but they always have their nature and for that we have to be respectful and know what to do. A friend of mine talked about the "bomb" proof horse she had once. She was a very savvy horsewoman. She came around the end of the stall without warning one day and got kicked out cold. The next thing she knew she was waking up underneath the horse and she credits the good ole horse with not completely eliminating her from this planet but also knows it was she that got much too casual. The horse as my old Mam would say "just doin' what come natchall."

    I hope you feel better soon! Arnica, too.