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Friday, 19 October 2012 01:31

See You On The Other Side

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When I was a teenager, I had the privilege to live and work on a dairy farm in Sweden. The farm was nearly 500 acres and the pastures were completely surrounded by an electric wire fence. Because we lived in the deep wilderness the fence was made of two electric lines. The bottom line helped to stop little critters and the top line, about waist high, helped to stop the larger animals like elk, bear and moose. I was very familiar with electric fences. As children we often played quickness games where you grabbed the electric fence and then let it go before the pulsing surge got you. It was pretty funny as long as you were winning. Truthfully, when you get shocked, it doesn’t hurt that bad. Once you combed your hair down and cut off the tips of your burnt fingernails, you were basically back to normal. Looking back now I see it did wonders in the development of my brain.

I quickly realized the powerful difference between US and Scandinavian electric fences. I was used to a pulsing charge, however the farm fence had a continuous source of high-powered juice. I should have recognized the hint when I saw it. I was plowing a field when I saw the man drive up. All I remember is seeing him get out of his car, wave to me and then walk toward the gate. I can only assume he didn’t realize he was about to touch an electric fence because he reached out and grabbed it with both hands. I’ll never forget the way he looked. When he grabbed the wire his head kicked back and his entire body went into convulsions. It looked like a stand up grand mal seizure. I was repulsed, but I couldn’t look away. I felt so sorry for the poor man. My body ached to his agony. I couldn’t help but be sympathetic and yet…I couldn’t stop laughing. Is it sadistic for me to laugh at another man’s electrocution? It must have lasted for at least ten seconds. I guess he let go when his knees hit the ground. To save the man his pride, I quickly turned the tractor around so he would think I didn’t see him. But I did see him and boy was it funny. I mean…terrible!

It only makes sense the voltage would be high on the fence. In order to deter the larger animals, the voltage had to be set on maximum to shock through their thick hides. It may have been high enough to kill the poor man! I don’t know … I never looked back.

About a week later, I was told to cross the pasture (nearly 300 acres) and cut some fallen trees. I knew I would be gone most of the day so I had to carry everything I needed, such as a saw, plenty of gas, and food. Finally, after an hour’s worth of walking, I reached the end of the pasture where the trees had fallen. All I had to do was crossover the fence and get started. I was surprised to find there was no way of crossing to the other side. There was no gate and no break in the wire. I had only two choices… I could make the long walk back to where I started and then take the exhausting three or four hours walk around the wire OR the obvious choice, figure out a way to cross over the fence.

I first lightened my load by tossing over all my equipment and tools. The simplest thing I could do would be to slide under the bottom wire. However my protruding bird chest made the distance to small. Although the clearance would be inches, I determined that I could, in fact, fit between the two wires. Being the think ahead type that I am, I took all my clothes off except my underwear and dropped them where I stood. I wanted nothing loose to touch the wires. It should have been a simple maneuver: right leg through…then the chest… and finally the left leg up and out. Everything proceeded as planned with the right foot, but just as my chest paralleled the wire, my left thigh touched. Three things happened instantly, a very loud POP, intense pain, and the instant reaction to standup. My back hit the top wire and I was immediately thrown to the bottom wire, only to repeat the process again and again. I felt like a mix between a popcorn maker and a ball stuck between bumpers in a pinball game. I somehow rolled out between the wire but to my horror, I rolled to the wrong side of the fence. My back and legs were severely striped but the scoreboard said I topped 100,000.

I was hurting, cold, half naked and on the wrong side of the fence. I sat for a moment and thought of the only viable solution. I could hop over the top wire! I had done it before with a split rail fence and figured it wouldn’t be much different with an electric one. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Similar to a Sumo wrestler lifting his leg up and hopping to the other, I would do the same. I would lift my left leg up and over the top wire. At the moment of perfect balance, I would push up with my right leg, and propel myself over the wire to a mirror pose on my left foot. I would then conclude my gymnastic routine by bringing my right leg safely over, completely unscaved.

This had to work! It was my only and final option. Even if I did get shocked, my momentum alone would throw me over. I proceeded as planned and lifted my left leg high over the wire. To be honest with you… things are a little fuzzy from here on out. All I can remember is my right leg slipping as I tried to push myself over. I must have fallen while straddling the wire. When I regained consciousness, nearly 15 feet away from the wire, a line was burnt down the middle of my face and chest. Like a mold line on a cheap plastic doll, my right half looked to be glued to the left half.

Eventually the shock wore off and I was delighted to see my tools and gear beside me. I had made it! I was across! The champion of my domain! I was gathering my tools when the cool Swedish wind reminded me I was still in my underwear. I sheepishly turned to gather my clothes when I saw them… neatly piled…on the other side of the fence.

-Thomas Dismukes


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  • Comment Link test test Saturday, 21 September 2013 18:39 posted by test test


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