Broken Ribs

The drop Wm


The vertical drop behind the house


It’s ironic that I’m working on the Precipitous Bank over the first anniversary of rusty duck. A little over a year ago we were working up there too. Or rather Mike was. Briefly.


Our first major job after moving in had been to fell about 30 tall conifers, most of them on this bank. They towered menacingly over the house and swayed quite alarmingly in the wind. Both the surveyor and thatcher had recommended they come down. Trees restrict air circulation and cause a thatched roof to deteriorate more rapidly than it should. The work went well, but the tree fellers left behind a large stump at the top of the bank. Mike decided to finish off the job.

I had wandered up the drive to see how he was doing. “You won’t let it roll down the slope, will you? It will damage a lot of plants… “


But with the stump cut through, Mike had tried to lift it. It was much heavier than he thought and he lost his footing on the slope. The section of trunk took off down the hill, picking up speed and heading straight for the house. Cob walls are not built to withstand tree stumps in free fall. They are only dried mud after all.

Half way down the slope Mike caught up with it but couldn’t stop it. The thing was huge and goodness knows what it weighed.

“BE CAREFUL… Let it go!”

The tree stump disappeared over the vertical drop into the gulley behind the house. Mike was still hanging on to try and slow it down. In a flurry of legs and arms, the stump pulled him over too. There was a monumental thud. And then a moan. What to do.. if I followed the route my husband had taken I would end up by the roof of the house and could do no more than look down. So I turned and ran the 100 yards down the drive, doubling back on the path to the house.

By the time I got to the gulley Mike was on his feet and leaning against the house wall. Winded. The tree stump was wedged in the gap between the bank and the house. Despite the pain in his chest he insisted on trying to move it. Somehow we managed to shove it, end over end, until it was clear of the wall of the house.


Mike had a lucky escape. Whether his ribs were actually broken, cracked or badly bruised we will probably never know. As the treatment (do nothing and leave to heal) is the same in any event, these days there is not even an X-ray. The doctor in A&E made sure that no lung was punctured and then sent him home.

He was grounded for several weeks, finding jobs that didn’t need too much moving around. But when my dearly beloved is not wrestling with tree stumps or dreaming up new challenges for the mice Mike is a bit of a computer geek. And so he hatched a plan that I’d been mulling over for a while. He had hours of endless fun setting up a website and loading it with the WordPress software. rusty duck was born.


The stump Wm


2017-11-17T18:41:52+00:00July 2nd, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Justine July 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Ouch! But then without those injured ribs we might not have the pleasure of you blog…

  2. Justine July 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    *your* blog. And I trust the ribs are fully recovered?

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      They are.. but it took quite a while! Thanks Justine.

  3. haggiz July 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Gosh that sounds scary, but I suppose it could have been a lot worse and silver lining we get to read rusty duck every other day now! Julie x

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      It could have been a whole lot worse. He fell onto concrete, no soft landing!

  4. finlaygrayJohn July 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    When I was a spinal injury nurse
    We had a lot of admissions from slips and falls when garden ending and DIY

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      These things happen so quickly and easily. We are both more careful than perhaps we used to be.

  5. Denise July 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a hero! Have you a HUGE log pile now?

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply


  6. Denise July 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Ouchkabibble! But as Justine quite rightly said, without that unfortunate incident, these blogger friendships would never have existed. The Universe works in mysterious ways.

    Are you going to put a top on that tree trunk and make it a garden seat? You could call the area Mike’s Folly!

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      What a very good idea!
      It now resides down by Mike’s bonfire area. I have often wondered whether it will ever make it on to a bonfire or if he is just keeping it for posterity.

  7. snowbird July 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful beginning to Rusty duck!!! Struth, the stump could have damaged plants, the stump AND Hubs could have wreaked HAVOC!!! lol….so glad that he was ok though, that fall sounded scary! xxxx

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      It was extremely scary at the time. I think of it often when I am up on that bank, because from there it looks such a very long way down!

  8. Em July 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Every cloud Jess…

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      Indeed Em.

  9. Vera July 2, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Honestly, I didn’t have a very small smile on my face as you related the tale of the tumbling stump and your man. Honestly, truthfully I didn’t. Bless you, but at least he was alright, plus Rusty Duck was born, so all good things come out of potential disasters.

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      All’s well that end’s well, except that I get less done in the garden these days because I spend too much time blogging!

  10. frayed at the edge July 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica
    Just catching up after our weekend away! Congratulations on your anniversary!! Malcolm fell off a ladder two years ago and badly bruised his ribs – it took him a while to recover. The previous time he fell off a ladder, he wrecked it (rats, it was my favourite little ladder!) and broke a glass-topped table …… he is much more careful now!!
    Looking forward to reading more of your entertaining blog!

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      It sounds like Malcolm was lucky too… glass topped table, ouch!

  11. Jo July 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    I always say that everything happens for a reason. Poorly ribs are so painful and it doesn’t take much to break them, my sister broke hers by coughing. Hope Mike’s fully recovered.

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      He is, thanks Jo. Your sister too I hope. I’ve suffered light bruising and that was bad enough.

  12. wendy July 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    I can only repeat ‘every cloud…’ – that’s certainly true about the birth of your blog! We work with trees here, and I’ve seen how trees and slips and tools can mean nasty injuries (I’ve done the A & E run more than once). I’m glad Mike was OK.

    • Jessica July 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks Wendy. It’s the chainsaw that worries me the most..

  13. Crafty Gardener July 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Out of adversary a wonderful thing was created ..

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

      Thanks! The abysmal summer last year helped too (or didn’t..). Gardening opportunities were few and far between.

  14. knitsofacto July 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    That has to among the more unusual birth stories! Happy Birthday Rusty Duck 🙂

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 10:44 am - Reply

      I would recommend a less traumatic approach!

  15. Virginia July 3, 2013 at 5:21 am - Reply

    Holy Smoke! I was imagining “super Mike” complete with cape (and tights!!) changing the trajectory of that tree!!! Why do they believe they’re invincible? I’m glad he wasn’t much more seriously injured, and that the blog was born. Weeks of TLC on your part I’ll bet?

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Ha! I don’t know Virginia, but sometimes they just have to find out the hard way! Was careful not to overdo the TLC, in case he got used to it.

  16. BadPenny July 3, 2013 at 8:51 am - Reply

    What a story…you tell it well. Is the stump still sat there as a warning ?

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 10:55 am - Reply

      I was asking him only last night what is going to happen to it, seeing as it’s been in the same place over a year and is sprouting moss…

  17. Bilbowaggins July 3, 2013 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Poor Mike, damn tree stumps. Huge sympathies, I did something similar (although mine involved catapulting over a stump that I was trying to push and landing on it ….. badly). Tell Mike I recommend ‘Revenge by Chainsaw’, it’s immensely satisfying.

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

      Ouch! If that stump doesn’t get made into a seat then I think that is exactly the way it will go.

  18. Rosie July 3, 2013 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Your garden does sound very hazardous and it looks as if you have both had some lucky escapes and ‘could be have been worse’ experiences but from out of poor Mike’s pain came the pleasure of Rusty Duck:)

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rosie. The garden is a huge challenge. But, too late now, onwards and upwards!

  19. Abby July 3, 2013 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    I feel slightly dizzy just looking at your first pic! This is not going to be a house for your retirement, is it?! Unless they’ve invented outdoor Stannah stair lifts by then…… x

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      Our predecessor was 90 when he left, so hopefully it kept him fit! But, no. A bungalow by the sea perhaps..

  20. CherryPie July 3, 2013 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Ouch!! Thankfully no real damage was done.

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 11:35 pm - Reply

      He was very lucky.. he managed to avoid squashing any plants.

  21. Marian July 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    So your husband had to have his ribs broken/damaged/bruised for us to enjoy this beautiful blog…. One year already? Congratulations! I discovered your blog only recently and so glad I did. From what I’ve read, your garden has its dangers though, so be careful!

    • Jessica July 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Marian. I enjoy yours too!
      It is not an easy garden. I had hoped that I could use the gradients and different levels to create something quite dramatic in terms of design. But it will take some time, mostly because I’m discovering that much trial and error will be involved!

  22. Sarah July 4, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Poor Mike, it must have been very painful. No wonder you now take extra care with your sloped garden. At least something good gave out of the incident. I love visiting your blog and like you find blogging takes up lots of my spare time!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica July 4, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      It is quite amazing how much time it soaks up.. just as well it is enjoyable time. Thanks Sarah.

  23. Brismod July 5, 2013 at 7:31 am - Reply

    Well thank goodness he did. Congratulations on one year of blogging! xx

    • Jessica July 5, 2013 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Thanks.. It certainly doesn’t feel like a year!

  24. Josephine July 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry Mike was hurt in the starting of your blog, but we thank him for his nobel effort !
    Carry on…

    • Jessica July 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. I’ll let him know!

  25. rusty duck July 12, 2013 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Test comment

  26. Charlie@Seattle Trekker November 9, 2013 at 4:18 am - Reply

    The one year anniversary is a good thing for all of us…I enjoy your blog, congratulations.

    • Jessica November 9, 2013 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Thank you Charlie! I can’t believe how quickly the first year went. And I have already learnt so much from your fascinating blog.

I'd love to hear from you..