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Mike Leahy's Diary

Day 28: Extracting Gold

Mike cutting rocksDay two is usually my favourite day because I can get on and do things but it starts badly. I've been feeling really nauseous and vomited the previous night, perhaps due to the difficulty I have in breathing because of a series of asthma attacks. It's raining; all I have to look forward to is another day of rock crushing and worse of all by far, I meet Mikey to find that he has been involved in a car accident. He is bruised and has quite a few nasty lacerations on his head. There could be worse injuries hidden away so he must go to the doctor. Needless to say, the programme will be difficult to make with Mikey in hospital but the show has to go on.

Mike sieving the rockMartin points out that he thinks there is so little gold in the ore we are using that I will have to powder the remaining five and a half sacks of rock by later that afternoon. Angie, Derek, John and Kate come to help. Kate takes the sledgehammer and breaks some rock for the camera. It's a tiny six-pound specimen, which is just the right size for her but very frustrating for me to use. She makes it hard for herself because she doesn't know how to use it properly but ten out of ten for effort.

Mike pounding rocksWith all the extra help, the rocks are soon broken down to useable sizes. The next step is to pound the small rocks with one of the heavy half-shafts. It's very labour intensive. The dust gets stuck in my throat and goes down into my lungs. I have another asthma attack but can't find my inhaler. It is difficult to breath, let alone talk.

Without Mikey around the afternoon was plain sailing because little could be filmed. I really didn't have much to do, so made tea for the others and slept. I needed the rest anyway.

It's difficult being away from home for so long but I'm pretty sure that it's harder for those at home. I wish that they could come to visit, or at least that they could see how we live. I increasingly treat Rough Science as a job. It's a nice job, but quite a hard one and isn't always fun.

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Photo: Mike Leahy
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