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More research where you least expect it

In a character's backstory, I needed his mother to die in a plausible way on a farm. Since I have lunch with my dairy farmer friend every Monday (she, like me, works many jobs -- we both work at the library and she is also clerk of her township) I figured I'd ask her how a woman would die on a farm.

I'm glad my notion was validated that it's more often men who die farming. Another of my good friends lost her dad that way. He stuck his head between two pieces of machinery, and one of them moved. (Dairy farmer friend also said children get into lots of farm accidents, which was really disturbing. And makes me think, "Ghost twin.")

Anyway, in going through what sorts of things women might do on farms which could kill them, it came out that my friend was hit by lightning as a child. And not just any lightning, but ball lightning rolling around on the ground. How truly bizarre -- and delightful for me as a fiction writer. That's one of those things that you just KNOW has to happen to someone now.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 27th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Ball lightning, how interesting. Can't wait to see how you use it.
I have a dairy farmer friend that lost parts of his fingers fixing the conveyor belt used for grain. If I were working on that farm, I'd probably be trampled by a cow. I'm attacked by the rooster regularly.
Apr. 27th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
My uncle got his arm caught in some factory machinery and it got flayed. Trampled by bull was one of the farm deaths we came up with.
Apr. 27th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about your uncle.
But bulls... scary.
I always stick close to the milking parlor when I'm over there. The bulls tend to like to follow me around and scare the hell out of me.
Apr. 27th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
My uncle's arm recovered but I remember he was off work for a while, and also that changing the dressings was gross. We were also glad he didn't lose his arm at the time. I think when your arm gets dragged into machinery, that's the first thing you think. (This must have been 35 years ago, I was a little kid.)

Even the milking parlor is foreign to me. I ask about every little thing.
Apr. 27th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
Well if you have any questions I'll happily ask him.
He has a small dairy farm, runs it with his dad and brother.
Glad his arm recovered. My friend brought the finger tips with him but they couldn't be saved. But I think that's everyone's initial response - save the appendage.
Apr. 28th, 2009 10:05 am (UTC)
"Save the appendage" outranks "stop, drop and roll" for accident response, doesn't it? Not a bad precaution to have permeated our culture!
Apr. 28th, 2009 10:10 am (UTC)
Very true.
Farming is such a thankless job. Especially now. Dairy farmers are hurting, cost more to take care of the animals and equipment then what they get for the milk.
And with cows you can't go anywhere. Chris is thrilled when I show up to take him out to lunch, its a mini vacation for him.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 27th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
This is one of those deaths that's only backstory, so I actually don't want it to be too vivid. I just wanted a good idea of how women function on a modern farm...and what sort of thing might kill them.

I wonder how many Americans are really distanced from what happens on farms. I know for me, a city kid, it was all really foreign when I went and wrote an article about the way my friend recycled newspaper on her farm.

Of course, she's now my source for all farm questions.
Apr. 27th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Between this entry and the comments, I'm very glad to live in a city now. ::cowers in a corner::
Apr. 27th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
OMG, sexeh icon!

There's going to be some tornado destruction in the story based on my neighboring town, which was completely wiped out in the mid-80's. We met the fire chief at a garage sale when we first moved up here, and he described to us how the village garage caved in and covered the emergency vehicles so that none of them could respond!
Apr. 27th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hope one day to make all my icons feature shirtless Karl Urban.

I love hearing about how you incorporate your life into your stories. The taxidermy story you told me earlier was cool, too. :-)
Apr. 28th, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)
If I could only stumble upon someone who worked with wax museum sculptures, I'd have a field day.

What program are you making your icons with? They look too smooth to be gifs, but they must be.
Apr. 28th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Photoshop. The smoothness comes from much frustrated messing around with settings for saving each gif.
Apr. 27th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Ouch! That machinery story made me wince...but lightening striking makes sense. Where else but on a farm in the middle of nowhere would lightening decide to crack down. And I love the rolling lightening! I've never heard of that before. I hope your friend wasn't badly hurt by her experience. Sounds hairy!
Apr. 27th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
My friend doesn't remember it! (It was probably mid 1950's.) She says her brother saw it happen and she didn't walk for several days.

I've seen TV shows about people who've been struck by lightning and it's always a really freakish way in which they get hit.

I don't know anything about ball lightning but I figure that info's just a google search away :D
Apr. 28th, 2009 12:41 am (UTC)
I have quite a few friends who grew up on farms here in mid-Canada (Saskatchewan). Consider the long-term toxic effects of pesticides & herbicides - carried in open buckets by my friend's dad when she was growing up. Is it a surprise that he died many years ago? (I can't remember the exact diagnosis - affected his skin & lungs.)
Here in the wheat belt, farmers hire planes to spray their vast fields with stuff guaranteed to kill every bug and weed on the planet. So reassuring. :~( And of course, besides farm machinery and large farm animals, there are snakes, coyotes & possible injury from tripping over a gopher hole, possibly when rushing somewhere after dark.
Apr. 28th, 2009 10:03 am (UTC)
I notice the people around here seldom talk about the herbicides and pesticides. It's like they're in denial. I also notice lots and lots of cancer, though I've often wondered if that's because in other places I've lived, people were more likely to be murdered so they didn't get a chance to develop the cancer.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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