Landscaping, gardening and building are all fun hobbies that keep K and I busy and happy, but there is a flip-side that can be a little painful. Over the years we have had minor scratches, cuts, abrasions, etc which can be expected from the type of work we have been doing. But we have had a few larger injuries that could have been avoided and that we should, theoretically, learn from. Maybe.
WARNING: I will be sharing photos of some of the injuries, so please be aware that some of the images my not be pleasant.
Our very first year building the caged walls we learned that cutting wire results in razor edges. Our first set of walls were made with a heavy duty wire that we used an angle grinder to cut. We learned very quickly how fast those cut pieces could draw blood. Luckily, they were always shallow cuts that just looked way worse than they actually were. We learned quickly and managed to avoid future cuts while working with this type of wire.
On we moved to our next style of wall that is made using smaller gauge fencing wire. We were able to use wire clippers to cut this type of fencing and stupidly thought it wouldn’t be as sharp. We thought wrong, still razor sharp. We managed to escape without any damages from that second style wall having learned our lesson from the first one and checking this one before getting to up close and personal with it.
As we progressed in the yard, K went superhuman one day last year and got all of the remaining terraces dug out in one day, putting in a 5 hour shift of just digging. Yea, he did take breaks, but it was still a lot of earth. He was a little sore for a few days, which is to be expected. But that is not the personal damage that is making it to this list. K also has to deal with lifting heavy parts at work, so after doing all that digging on his day off, he then followed it with a week of heavy lifting. The weekend following the big dig, we had plans to go visit K’s parents. Basil is not a jumper, and usually needs an extra boost or a full lift into the truck. She made it halfway in and K bent to help lift her the rest of the way. He was barely lifting any weight, but between the angle, the bit of weight and the strain he had put on his back the previous week, it was the perfect setup for a major back injury. He crumpled and ended up flat on the ground for a solid 15 minutes just trying to breathe through the pain. We believe he tore a muscle under his shoulder blade. It was a few weeks before he could move normally. Major lesson learned. We do not want to do any permanent damage to our backs, so we are much more aware of our limits and what our backs are telling us. We do more stretching and go a little slower. If it takes us 2 days instead of 1, that is fine.
Moving on with our third wall design, which has been a keeper that we don’t plan to adjust any further. This one has a chicken wire run inside of the smaller gauge fencing to make it easier to fill with smaller rock that we often get from our supplier. Both wire fences can be cut with hand snips. Now here is the kicker. This has a double duty of personal damages. Due to the summer we had and working from home, I was able to do a lot of work on the walls that K had dug out.
Hand cutting that wire did some minor damage. Apparently my hands aren’t as tough as I would believe and don’t hold up as well to prolonged heavy cutting. I don’t consider my hands delicate by any means, but apparently they have a smaller limit than I would have thought. Not that it stopped me, I just had to put thicker gloves on and dealt with the bruised pain. Not a major damage, but certainly an annoying one. The palm of my had as well as my fingers had tender bruises for a few days.
Part two of this wall is the double wire and the doubling of razor sharp pieces to contend with. Most of them were short walls, which may have led to my lackadaisical approach to filling them and the resulting damages. Yes, we learned the wire was sharp, and yes I was as careful as I could be when filling the walls. To be fair, I only received minor non-bleeding scratches from filling the wall, which was to be expected. For the most part, people who don’t know me probably thought I just had a mean cat.
Where I received most of the damage was my careless manoeuvring around the walls and the wire that will catch on shoelaces or clothing, tripping you up. Or the fact that some of the levels are really soft sand that we would sink into because we hadn’t finished backfilling. Runner up to the biggest injury from the new walls was a gash to my leg. This one hurt. I went to step over a short portion of one of our walls rather than do the safe thing and walk around it. As I stepped over, my shoelace caught up in the wire and started to trip me. I did not want to fall on the wire wall because I knew it was razor sharp and would likely leave some fairly major cuts, so I slammed my foot down and crouch-fell where I knew it would be safe. For the most part it worked, except the foot caught by the laces. I had forced my foot down next to one of the posts do the back of my calf slammed down onto the corner of the post creating an instant goose-egg. There was also sharp wire stapled to the post that we hadn’t cleaned up, so I also had some good cuts. In the end, the bruising from the post was much worse than the cuts. Because the wire is razor sharp, the cuts are very clean and heal quickly. No, I didn’t learn my lesson.
A few days later, I stupidly decided to take a short-cut and again stepped over a shorter section of fence. This time, my foot sunk into a soft sandy area, which resulted in what felt like the slowest fall ever. Not slow enough to avoid damage though, but slow enough that I didn’t feel the damage. I thought I had gotten away without any cuts because I had slowly fallen onto the razor sharp fence. The pressure was minor and nothing was stinging. So, I kept working. After a few minutes I felt it. A slow sting to start, then the wet dripping. I look down and my arm looked massacred and my leg was starting to look the same way. Into the house I went to clean-up, thinking that it would all be superficial and I would be back out working in no time. Nope. The leg wasn’t bad. Not scratches, but a few small pokes that were bleeding. They stopped fairly quickly and didn’t give me any trouble. But my arm was much worse. It was a deep cut that was bleeding pretty good. It was not deep enough to need stitches, but deep enough that it wouldn’t seal back together easily or quickly. It has resulted in a scar that I will have forever now.
I recently shared about smashing my finger under a large, heavy round of tree-trunk while we were getting firewood a few weeks ago. That is still healing. The finger almost looks normal, still just barely swollen, but it is still quite tender. I imagine it will be for a while yet. The worst is bumping it just the right way and getting what feels like an electric shock up my entire arm. Not so fun.
Last to make the list is a bit of a funny one. We all learn when we are young to be careful with scissors. Our parents teach us how to use them safely and we spend years working with them. Well, that doesn’t mean they are safe to use. K was cutting down some large stalks and thought our heavy-duty shop scissors would be able to do the trick. He had to put quite a bit of pressure because they were just barely making it through. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thought about the placement of his other hand that was holding the stalk. Snip, the scissors finally cut through. But they got more than the stalk, they also cut down the middle of the tip of K’s baby finger. Luckily it was a vertical cut instead of horizontal, otherwise he may have lost the tip of that finger. Still, a painful cut with a long healing period. We can laugh about it now, but at the time it was a little less funny. To top the funny story off though, after I got him bandages up, I took the scissors away and gave him our pruning shears to go finish the job. Luckily he did learn from the scissors and was much more careful about his finger placement.
In all seriousness, although we have had some injuries, we do learn from them and change how we do things to ensure we are being as safe as possible while working in our yard and shop. We are not professional landscapers, gardeners or builders, so we do have a lot of learning that comes with this process. We do our best to read about safe practices when learning a new skill or working with a new tool and use as much common sense as we can. But, injuries are bound to happen, we are just working to make sure they are always minor.