Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eye Spy

It has been a difficult week here at Kurtwood Farms.  I tend to prefer to only describe the more positive aspects of this small farm.  The benefits, the joys, the challenges that conveniently end in a positive outcome. But, like the rest of life, this farm life is often difficult.

Three weeks ago Dinah 2.0, the new Dinah, was in the milking parlor with me.  I was in the process of the regular twice daily milking when the exuberant young cow swished her tail to rid her back of the errant flies.  Cows, and especially this cow, are quite strong despite their gentle appearance and I often forget to be prepared for their strength.  Unfortunately her long, bony tail did not swish the flies but rather landed square on my right eye.  I remember thinking how painful it was and what a good shot she was.  Actually I think I was much more vocal than that. I was most un-pleased to say the least. But I went on about my day.

A couple of weeks later I began to see spots floating across my field of vision.  By the end of that day the spots had graduated to large rafts of smoky moving across my eye.  A few minutes later I lost all sight in the one eye.  As I had recently had Lasic surgery a few months prior, I thought my eyes were simply dry and proceeded, to apply a lot of eye drops, to no avail.  Panic began to set in.

Early the next morning I called the eye clinic where I had had the Lasic surgery with the guess that something had gone terribly wrong with my corrective surgery.  An hour later I was in their office and when I explained to the doctor that I could not even see the wall much less the chart on the wall he got a bit nervous.  He called in a retina specialist who confirmed that my eye was filled with blood from a torn retina.  I was scheduled for surgery a few days later.

I have come out the other end of the surgery process.  With technology incomprehensible to me, the surgeon went into  my eye and repaired my retina, drained the fluid and replaced it with new, and inserted a gas bubble to hold the retina up until it can heal.   

As I sit here and attempt to see the computer screen, I am using one eye and a very blurry second eye. The gas bubble is grossly limiting the vision through that hopefully repaired eye. In addition to the possibility of the eye never fully healing, I have the greater anguish.  The gas bubble is very sensitive to atmospheric pressure. The surgeon has banned me from flying for weeks for fear of the bubble dissipating.  Hence I will not be attending the cheese making course I had so looked forward to at the University of Vermont next week.

And so I have found the occupational hazard of the small dairy.  I always believed that the country life, the calm farm job, the life out of the city was the safer option.  Living here I would eat well, work well and live well.  Alas, not always true.  I still have not decided if I will fly out later in the fall or if I will count on my own abilities to make cheese here at the farm. Thankfully for Dinah 2.0 she is with calf.  Had she been not yet bred, she most likely would be headed to slaughter, as the focus of my frustration and anger.  


  1. Sorry to hear about your eye - hopefully it will make a full recovery. We always used big clips to attach the tails to the stalls during milking and prevent that sort of injury. Looking forward to the book!

  2. I have certainly lived and learned on this one. The tails are now held up to the wall. This cow -- Dinah 2.o -- was the first springer I have had and hence she had less long hair on her tail. Without that lengthy appendage the tail could fly quickly and smack just right. With the older cows, being hit with the tail was almost welcome, the long swisher gently flopping around.

  3. I am so sorry! I too got hit the other day and boy did that tail smart in my eye....she got her point across! I'm grateful now that I realize just how dangerous those tails are...I hope you fully recover.

    I had my first farm tragedy. The vet pulled a dead calf from my first heifer this weekend. I'm so new at this and I didn't need such a horrible thing to happen right off the bat. The calf had been dead for 4 months and my girl carried it to term. She did not come into milk and we have to wait another year. She is doing well and I am so grateful that she did not die. These gentle giants have captured my heart.

    I wish you a speedy and complete recovery!

  4. Hi Kurt:

    I am one of your former milk customers and I have been meaning to catch up with you via your blog for a long time. I finally searched out your site this evening to find to my dismay, that you have an eye injury and are in for a second surgery. Best of luck with it and here's wishing you a complete and fast recovery. I can't wait to try some of your cheese. I'm especially hoping that you are still going to make parmesan.



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