Saturday, September 17, 2011

A farming emergency

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is my hero. I love the River Cottage and it's organic, low miles, grow your own veg type lifestyle. It's ideals anyway. In practice it's bloody hard work. Oh for a philipino boy to do thy bidding.

This particular farm is awesome. They have chickens! Always wanted chickens but never had the land for it. These people have quite literal acres, all of it green and vibrant. It is however in the middle of Butt Fuck Nowhere. The nearest shop is a 3 mile hot and sweaty walk away. This is no bad thing however. Little light pollution, no road noise, few people. Days go by and you don't see a soul. Just me and a fellow WWOOFer down on the farm. Most days we work for 3 hours and sit and chill the rest of the day away.

It's very, very cool.

Until one of you has an accident and you need, well, help.

Justin's a dude. I say 'dude' all the time but Justin is a duuuuuude, of Dude, Where's My Car type dudedom. Stoner extraordinarire, 22 years old and dumb as fuck. Being from Vermont you'd think he'd be prepared for our future adventure but no. He was useless.

It's 930pm and Justin informs me he's been bitten by a snake. Now I never see snakes. I've been to four continents, in the tropics, in deserts and jungles, up mountains, and camped next to rivers. I've seen two. It's a tragic tally. Where was Justin when he was bitten? In the woods hanging his washing up. Quite how retarded you have to be to be in the woods at this time of night for any reason I don't know. The reasons abound: alligators, poison ivy, falling over logs, snakes....

I can't see a thing on his leg and tell him to come back to me if anything changes. I should point out I'm FROM THE BLOODY ENGLAND INNIT. What the fuck do I know about snakes?

OK he says. Before coming back twenty minutes later saying he's not feeling too good and pointing out two pinpricks on his leg. He had to point to them three times but I've never seen snakebites before - how do I know what they look like? Now it did feel warm and looked a bit swollen. Hmm. Let's phone the farm managers who live 15 miles away and see what they say.

Where's your phone? I say.

Here he says but it has no charge. Where's yours?

Mine hasn't worked for a few weeks I say. Umm....I'll go charge it. Ten minutes walk away at the barn where the sockets are. Try not to....die. Writes down a number off the wall.

Off I go. Plug it in and wait. And wait. And wait. Ten minutes later finally the bloody thing turns on. Farm owner 1 doesn't answer. let's try owner 2. Whose number I didn't write down. Do I walk back now? Has the phone got enough charge to make it? Nah. Let's give it a few minutes. Hope he's not dead yet...

On the phone theres a similar and vaguely recognisable number in his phone call lists. Let's hope its the right one. Call it leave a message. Walk back.

Feeling alright mate?

No he says I feel like shit.

What do You want to do?

What do You think I should do?

Umm....if we phone an ambulance will you get charged?


Then why the fuck haven't we done that already?

Ok. Phone.

Ok. 911? My friend has been bitten by a snake. Blah blah blah. You want the address? Umm...we don't have it. We're staying with friends. Its Buttfuck Nowhere. Umm...There's a Putnam Drive nearby. And it's off US 1. I don't know which direction. Oh, and the farm gate will be locked. I should go and open, it's a dirt road. Can the ambulance make that?

Justin: we could take the golf buggy

Now the farm has a golf buggy. Don't know where they got it but it's awesome on toast. It's electric and we go everywhere on it. But it doesn't hold much charge. It was on charge at the barn so I had to walk back down and get it. All I know of snakebites is Yiu keep the limb immobile so I was making Justin sit with his leg in the air so he quite obviously couldn't do the walk with me. The 911 operator is badgering me to get to the gate.

The buggy doesn't have headlights. So I'm driving while talking to 911 and holding a torch in the pitch blackness. Storming along, I pick Justin up, drive over a few plants in the dark, and head for the gate. The buggy is getting slower all the time. The farm driveway is 3/4 mile long! We get to the gate, unlock it and there're flashing light in the distance. It's gotta be for us but they're going in the wrong direction. Given that they're on the right road and I'd given them perfect directions for finding us (end of the road, sharp bend, we're on the bend) their navigation doesn't seem the best. I later found out it's a big area for shooting random intruders. Tony Martin eat your heart out. The paramedics don't go in anywhere until they're certain they have the right place.

So we give chase. At 3mph. In pitch blackness on a deserted country road. Waving a flashlight in their general direction. I swear I'm not making this up. We see headlights! Hurrah! Let's stop the car, get them to turn around and chase the ambulance.

It's the farm owner number 2 who having finally listened to my answer machine message thought someone had died and rushed down. We jumped in her car, she did a 3 point turn and promptly drove into a ditch. That car ain't going fucking anywhere. Justin's breathing is getting quite eventful by this point.

I start running up the road (running! Me! Ive not ran for years but my god inwasimpressed with myself) flagging down a second car. The police! Who're apparently aiding the navigationally challenged paramedics in finding us. Well whoopy doo.

The Sherriff looks at Justin's leg and is, I have to say, mildly contemptuous. Ambulance arrives and they are, I have to say, mildly contemptuous. They're adamant it's not a snake bite. For one thing there isn't a bite. And he's not dead yet. Fire engine arrives (I'm looking at it a-fucking-gog. I mean, I didn't order it) and out pops two more paramedics who...blah, blah, blah. I can't help thinking at this point that if Justin gets charged for wasting everyone's time, am I getting charged, too? Fire engines don't come cheap....

The four paramedics might as well have brought cocktails for the party they're having. They're having a great time at Justin's expense and they just seem jolly people generally. All of them at one point or another imply Justin hallucinated the snake bite. Have you been drinking? Are you high? Have you taken anything? (big crystal meth area apparently - making and using). It was hot today - did you drink enough? Wear a hat? Have you eaten anything funny? They may as well have just screamed in his face YOURE A TWAT AND YOURE WASTING OUR TIME which he is but wasn't. It was dark, he felt omething slap against him, he felt unwell, isn't it best to be safe than sorry? I'd have been panicking like fuck in his shoes. I'm already a hypochondriac. Although it could be argued if a snake had bitten me I might also be in a little bit of pain...

Some negitiotiating later it was determined that Justin wouldn't go in the ambulance to hospital (they charge for that apparently but house calls is free - who knew? Tip for the future maybe). He was to keep an eye on his still snakebite free leg.

In one way it was disappointing that there was no snakebite cuz that would've been a cool and daring rescue by me even though in all liklihood he'd have been dead a longtime before we even got to the ambulance. It's also disappointing cuz I'd have been rid of him off the farm.

Still, can't win 'em all.

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