The farmer versus the city slicker

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The farmer versus the city slicker
The vegetable patch before it was eaten by cows.

I was electrocuted today.

Normally, I’m a careful, health conscious person and I don’t touch charged wire.

However, I live on two acres next door to a farmer who has hundreds of acres and had recently charged the fence. He should have told me he’d electrifiedthe fence but didn’t because he probably assumed I wasn’t going to touch it – which I wouldn’t have done if he’d warned me.

This farmer always causes problems.

He electrified the wire after I complained about his cows straying on to my property and eating the vegetable garden.

Then he flooded my property after building a massive greenhouse with faulty drainage. After one particularly heavy deluge, a small river formed and gushed under the fence (which had yet to be electrified) and drowned the remainder of the veggie patch the cows hadn’t eaten.

And another time he had a really nasty bull that stood next to the fence and watched me. The bull wasn’t getting zapped because the fence was still a normal fence and he knew it. The bull made funny noises when I was around and I’m unsure whether it wanted to mate or impale me, but I always ran away so that I didn’t have to find out.

Soon after all this, a tree from the troublesome farmer’s property fell on the fence and my sheep got out. I was at work when I received a phone call from a friend who told me she’d seen the aforementioned sheep loose on the highway as she drove past my house.

Sheep on a highway are bad – but not as bad as four horses.

A friend had asked me to mind his horses for a few weeks. He said they’d eat all my overgrown grass and earn their keep. In fact, they chewed the grass so well that they ate themselves onto the highway.

Four horses on a busy road cause panic.

Luckily, I didn’t receive a council fine. I’m sure they would have loved to drain my bank account but apparently you can’t fine someone for horses loose on a highway. Unlike sheep – for which you can be fined even though they have the same amount of legs as a horse and are not as likely to kill you if you run into them.

As well as careless farmers, rickety fences and escaping livestock, a multitude of surprises await unwitting city folk who move to the country. And I’m not just talking about poisonous tiger snakes (although it’s freaky being confronted in the driveway by a reptile that can kill you). The snake and I both knew it had the advantage. It was quick, it was deadly and I was spoiling its sunny Sunday afternoon. After deciding I wasn’t worth a shot of its poison it slithered away – probably to go chill with the horny bull on the other side of the fence.

Mind you, being bitten by a snake would be painful but being bitten by a spider is just as bad. Which isn’t to say that being bitten by giant bull ants with pincers the size of fork blades, or wasps that sneak up and bite your neck aren’t painful. A pissed-off spider, however, is in a category all of its own.

This particular spider decided that it didn’t like being displaced from its dark, comfortable home by my foot as I slid it into my gumboot. Added to this, it had been shaken around in the boot and probably had motion sickness which prevented it from getting out to spin a web somewhere else. Anyway, when no spiders emerged after my boot shaking I decided it was safe and put my foot inside. I felt this incredibly painful bite above my toes and I kicked off the gumboot (quicker than you can run away from a horny bull) shouting”ah, shit…agghh……”

The spider bite became extremely itchy both morning and night for three weeks.  I haven’t retrieved my gumboots since and the spider is probably back in its home where it won’t have to worry about stupid people putting their foot on top of it again.

Which just goes to show that when you’ve been stung, flooded, out-stared by a snake, escaped a randy bull and rescued sheep and horses from the highway, being electrocuted isn’t so bad after all.

Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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