Our oldest son, Zac came up for a short visit, for one. This re-energized the firewood crew, and changed the dynamics in the cabin. (Eric and Tate were pretty tired of their routine; select a dead tree, fall it, drag it to a shady spot, cut it up, split the rounds into small pieces, load the wood in the trailer.)
The infusion of new energy made for more fun, a little masculine competion, and more production. My part of the process (tow the full trailer to someone's house, push a button, tow the empty trailer back to the shady spot) was taking nearly my full time. On Monday, I had snuck away to the front of the ranch where a road needed my attention and about 20 loads of rock. Happily making progress on the road work, I was a little annoyed to see that all three of the men in the firewood line were in the truck bringing a loaded trailer to me for delivery.
Then I noticed the look on their faces. And that Tate was holding a remnant of his shirt to his face. And that everybody had blood on their clothes.
A piece of firewood had split explosively, a portion striking Tate's eyebrow with enough force to knock him back. (He wants me to be clear here that it wasn't able to knock him down, he kept his feet!) Time for a trip to the hospital... it's about an hour away, and since the trailer was full and we're just sensible like that, we delivered the wood on the way. Believe it or not, Tate was not the top priority in the hospital's triage. He got a room alright, so he would quit bleeding on their floor, but it took four more hours to get his wound stitched. Five stitches on the inside, and a dozen to re-align his eyebrow. The E.R. physician offered to refer Tate to a plastic surgeon since he was formerly "such a handsome guy", but Tate had had enough waiting. "Get 'er done!"
While his antibiotic prescription was being filled we had a mexican food dinner and then drove home, picking up the trailer along the way. I think we even stopped to get the mail. Sensible.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Cue the music in a minor key... Eric and Zac had found their existence slightly mundane without Tate, and probably were aware of all the attention he would be demanding tommorow, so they staged an accident with the skidder. My heart sank when I noticed the tracks starting at the front of the ranch. The large track-loader I had been using on the road rocking had been driven several miles back toward the firewood area. I was actually hoping that the skidder had suffered a breakdown, and the loader was just filling in at the landing, hoding the logs in the air for easier cutting. Upon reaching the cabin, in the dark, and finding no-one home, and noticing that even the old d-6 was missing, I had a pretty good idea that our luck at keeping the "shiny side down" had run out. Since there were no emergency vehicles on scene, and the brothers hadn't gone to seek medical attention, and I hadn't been called, I guessed that it was something that they figured they could handle on their own... and seeing them coming down the hill riding double on the quad was a good relief.
Eric, operating the skidder, had found himself on a slope that he couldn't back up, and it gradually steepened into a vertical face but ended on a flat landing where he was piling logs. The face was just small enough to look possible, and just big enough to make the skidder stand on it's dozer blade, pirouette to the left, and roll sideways down the hill. Eric wasn't wearing his seatbelt, so he describes the ride as it was, a life-or-death struggle to stay inside the cage and avoid being crushed by the machine. At one point he even recalls hating the guy who decided that men's ballcaps should have a metal button on top. (At the point that the skidder was momentarily on it's top he was somwhere else in the cage, and landed on his head, hard). The machine came to a rest on it's side without crushing Eric, and the only damage was a few minor cracks which we will weld this winter, and a blown tire and crumpled wheel.
Upon reflection, There was so much mercy, and grace extended to us that day that I cannot view it as anything but a GOOD DAY!Tate took the close call to his eye all in stride. He also placed a courtesy call to his mom, right AFTER sending her a picture taken BEFORE the stiches. He even went back to work the next day. Cowboys are tough!
This was taken the next day... notice the addition of protective headgear for the splitter operator! And Tate has seemed to prefer to split by hand lately...
This is the skidder, back in action, shiny side down,(the bottom stays REALLY shiny driving over brush and stumps and slash all day) AND the seatbelts are going to stay shiny from constant use now too!