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Deers & Goats & Backs & Things

Goat |

I was sixteen when it first happened. I had been on a weekend school trip to an outdoor pursuits centre and come home with a stiffness in my back. I wasn’t sure what had done it – 4 hours downstream in a canoe, rock climbing a jagged cliff, lifting the heavy sail of a windsurf or jumping from port to starboard as we tacked and jibbed our way across a choppy bay.

What began as a niggle slowly became a pain and then became debilitating. I couldn’t carry my schoolbag. I couldn’t sit very comfortable, and would stand at the back of the class whenever possible. I began to lose power in my leg, which I would drag behind me like I had something tied to my ankle. The doctors were worried – a nerve in my spine was being pinched and if it wasn’t released soon it might never recover. Surgery was the only solution.

Goat |

It wasn’t my first surgery, nor was it my last, but it stands out in my memory as being the only one where I wasn’t fully asleep. They were performing keyhole surgery so a full anaesthetic wasn’t necessary. I remember that the anaesthetist was young and handsome and that I flirted with him a little during the operation. What a sight I must have been, dreamy-eyed and bare-assed on the table. Having such a cringe-worthy memory is probably a good thing as it has occupied all of the brain-space allowed for that day, blocking out any pain memories.

If I had my time again I would have taken the rest of that year off school to allow myself to recover fully from the operation. I was one of the youngest in my year, so graduating a year later would have made little difference in the long run. But I was young and restless and determined to get off to college, so I went back to school less than three weeks later. Back to sitting for long hours and carrying the heavy schoolbag – silly, silly girl. I ended up doing my Leaving Cert (the Irish equivalent of SATs) in my own room with a bed and a high desk and my own private invigilator.

Goat |

Years later I was at a mid-summer’s eve celebration in Ireland with a bunch of Lithuanian friends. The event was organised by a Lithuanian food company to celebrate Joninės, one of the biggest celebrations in the annual Lithuanian calendar. They had been expecting 200 people and 2,000 had turned up, resulting in long queues for food and drinks. Had I known the damage I would do myself standing in those queues I would have taken off my platform heels and gone home early. The back that had never truly recovered rapidly deteriorated, resulting in six months out of work, excruciating pain, more drugs than I care to remember and, ultimately, further surgery.

This time round I took my recovery seriously. I went to physio every week for over a year. I took up Pilates and practiced at least once a week, more as I became stronger. It took a long, long time but eventually I ended up stronger than I had been since before the initial injury at sixteen. I can do most things I want to do, though I still steer clear of water sports and am reluctant to ride horses. I get the odd twinge, but mostly I’m good.

Goat |

I have spent the last two days processing a deer that was felled by our friend last weekend. The guy had cleaned and skinned it for me, but I prefer to butcher my meat myself so I know which bits are which and can label them to be used appropriately. I’m good with a knife, having practiced on fish and chicken for years. It was slow work, though, and a little awkward in places. It was only my second time butchering such a large animal and I was taking my time to ensure nothing got ruined or wasted. By the time I was finished, I was pretty butchered myself. My back aches and, much more troublingly, I have pain down through my leg, indicating that the nerve is irritated. I’m delighted with my freezer full of organic, wild meat but I’m annoyed with myself for pushing to get finished quickly and not taking more breaks. I can’t afford to have a bad back. Literally. I need that back strong and healthy to do all the things that need to be done on a homestead – digging, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, canning, preserving, cooking from scratch. There’s just no room for pain in my plan.

So, I’m going to have to do what that sixteen-year-old should have done. I’m going to have to take it easy, at least for a week or two until the pain has fully dissipated. It’s not my style, but I’d be foolish to make the same mistakes twice. It’ll mean I can’t really cook, but instead will take long, leisurely walks with the dog. He’s smiling already.

PS: These photos have nothing to do with anything except that I took them recently and thought they were cool. The camera didn’t do the sky justice so I played with my HDR settings to bring out the colours. They’re a bit arty, but I like them!

If you like my photos then you might also like my 2016 Calendar, which showcases 13 of my most popular photos from the last year. I have only printed a small number, so please order early to avoid disappointment.

Goat |

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. longchaps2 #

    I WAS trying to figure out how the goat fit in. I thought maybe I was missing an analogy, lol. He IS a handsome goat. Now I know the back story on your back :). I admire your toughness. Nothing keeps you down for long.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 23, 2015
    • Ha! I should have left out the explanation and left you all wondering! Yeh, I’m a pretty tough cookie. A boss once called me “tenacious” in a reference. At the time I had to look it up, but when I saw what it meant I had to agree that he was bang on!

      Liked by 1 person

      December 23, 2015
      • longchaps2 #

        “Tenacious” is also what will keep you young. My mom has that gene too. She’s always the last person to sit down at night. She’s almost 78.

        Liked by 1 person

        December 23, 2015
  2. If I’d known you had butchery experience I’d have dragged you up to Limbazi for advice, Bad backs are a nuisance, but I had the best treatment ever here in Latvia. I went to the doctors in agony and came out pain free with full movement and no problems for the last 6 months. Among other things I had calcium intravenously which gave me hot flushes. A bizarre feeling.

    Great photos as usual,

    Liked by 1 person

    December 16, 2015
    • Thanks Andy! Very jealous of your lamb – it’s a long time since I had any! I did a post about butchering a pig a while back – might be worth a read before you try one. Really, though, they’re all much the same – just different sizes. Happy to hear you got your back sorted – back pain can be so debilitating.

      Liked by 1 person

      December 16, 2015
  3. Stunning photos June, totally stopped me scrolling! Hope you feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 30, 2015
    • Thanks Dee! The back is on the mend now, thankfully. 🙂


      November 30, 2015
  4. Sorry to hear about your back troubles. It’s so frustrating not to be able to do stuff but hopefully you can rest it for a bit. Groovy goats!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 22, 2015
    • Thanks Karen. Groovy is the perfect word for those goats and the skies behind them!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 23, 2015
  5. So sorry to hear about your back, June. Very smart of you to take the time to allow your body to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 21, 2015
  6. Hi June, I’m sorry to hear your back is bad again. I remember the very obvious pain you were in at times while you were in eircom, and as a fellow sufferer, I can say I feel your pain. If you think two weeks rest will do, take three. And more as necessary. There is no nobility in pain.
    Get better first, and take care of the rest later.
    I love your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 21, 2015
    • Hi John. Lovely to hear from you – thanks for stopping by the blog. Yeh, I don’t know where we get this idea that we need to soldier through pain rather than take the time to heal the cause. I’ll do my best to put my feet up for a while. Take care, June.


      November 21, 2015
  7. Back issues are troublesome at best and seem to linger. Take good care.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 20, 2015
  8. Handsome goats 🙂 Hope the niggle niggles itself out asap.

    Liked by 2 people

    November 20, 2015
  9. Love your goats, and I hope your back heals soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 20, 2015
  10. sbdagape #

    Oh my goodness!! Please take as long as necessary to get better. Let me know if you need anything. We can always drive out. BTW does Arunas cook?? The goat pics are the best. I love them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    November 20, 2015
    • Thanks Susan! Thankfully Arunas does cook, and quite well too. I see lots of sauerkraut soup in my future!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 20, 2015
      • sbdagape #

        Mmm Mmm Good!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 20, 2015
  11. Take it easy kid and get well soon. G.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 20, 2015

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