Friday, June 17, 2011

A hay wagon ride down memory lane to where the buffalo roam...

It was a brisk summer night out of the farm with children laughing and singing songs as we climbed on the hay wagon.  It had been  western night at the long weekend retreat we (City Impact volunteers had been hosting for the 40 low income children we had been teaching in Bible Clubs. We had roped hay bale steers, rode horses and other activities surrounding life in the country.  Most of the children had never done any of the activities so it had been a fun and eventful day of intrigue for them.

As we loaded the hay wagon I had sat next to two little girls.  One of them was very apprehensive.  I kept assuring her that it was safe.  She finally climbed up next to me.  I wrapped my arm around her.  As the tractor took off across the field all the kids were recalling the fun events of the day and then we broke out in song.

All of a sudden we felt a jolt...and the next thing I knew I was on the ground recalling where all my organs were located in my body...then someone yelling, "Back up,  hurry!"  Pressure released and I recoiled, springing to my feet.  I had been pinned under the tire of the hay wagon. It had rained several days before.  The water  had washed a small area out.  The tractor tires were big enough to take the pothole with no effect.  The wagon was not so lucky the tire hit the hole and tipped just enough to dump  quite a few of us on the ground.

 My first reaction was to checked on the little girl who was next to me.  She was fine. I then made my rounds  to all the others who were laying on the ground.  Everyone kept asking me if I was OK.  "Of course I am.",  I replied.  Then, I found a little girl who was still on the wagon crying.  She had been in my club the last few years so I tried to climb up to help her...that was when I realized...I really was hurt. 

One of the guys took off his shirt making a sling for me.  Off across the field we went toward the house.  He was recalling the events of the evening marveling at how comforting to others I had been despite what had just happened and how much pain I was in. One of the things he told me was how I responded to the little girl who was still wrapped in my arm.  I guess I kept telling her over and over again, "It is going to be OK. Just stay calm."  She was not hurt in the whole ordeal.

Once we had arrived at the house.  I walked in and the paramedics put me on the couch checking my vitals.  It seemed as everything looked OK.  I waited as they checked all the other kids.  A gentleman walked in the door asking, "Are you okay?"  All of a sudden it dawned on me.  I wasn't even suppose to have been there that evening.  I was suppose to be having dinner with him.  I had stayed at the retreat because they were shorthanded.

They put me on a stretcher and rolled me to the ambulance.  Couple of the girls that had minor injuries slid in on the bench across from me timidly.  I was talking with the paramedics and trying to assure the girls it was safe to tell them things about themselves and the fun day we had.  The last thing I remember before going into shock was the paramedic asking one of the girls her take on the evening.  "We were havin' fun and singing...(pause)... and then we all fell off." was her reply.  I ended up injuring my rotators cuff and my wrist.  Nothing a little time and physical therapy wouldn't cure.

To this day I am leery of hay rack rides.  So when I got the email from the mom's club about going to the Dillinger's Buffalo Ranch and read that you took a hay ride to the buffalo I swallowed hard.  Should I go?  Should I  take my daughter to such an event or not.  I decided it was a beautiful day so we were going to do it.  We arrived.  We got to touch the pelts, horns and bones of this wild animal that is unafraid of anything before even getting on the wagon. When we came out of the barn I saw my nemesis.  My pulse quickened. The  wagon looked safe.  It had bars on all sides so surely nothing will happen.  As we left I noticed we were on a path that eased my mind.    Then all of a sudden we were in a field....memories flooded me and I found my heart pounding and my mind saying its gonna be OK.  Then we entered a wooded thicket...crossed a small creek....mind still racing....came to a fence...went in and stopped...deep breath and sigh of relief.

Once we stopped the buffalo came and surrounded the wagon.  The kids got buckets of pellets they could feed the buffalo.  Some were timid and just threw them at the beasts.  Others let them eat right out of there hands.  There were babies among them who follow close to their mothers.  They were not allowed to venture to close to the wagon.  I guess buffaloes have a matriarchal hierarchy. 

Exposing Charleigh to the buffalo was fun.  I am not sure how impressed she was with the massive animals.  She watched the kids as the fed the buffaloes more than the animals I think.  But the trip was worth it because I had to face a fear to do something fun for my daughter.  And I think I pulled it off with no one even knowing how apprehensive I was.

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