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Possumhaw: Down home on the farm

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

 

"Can bet your boots that I'll be leaving just as fast as I can. I wanna go home with the armadillo ... " 

 

Gary P. Nunn 

 

 

 

Last week talking to R.C., he described what he'd like to do in retirement.  

 

"Have a little farm," he said. "Maybe some chickens, some goats; a dog, some cats. I'm not a real cat person, but they seem to like me. And a tractor ... but tractors always need working on, and I don't much know how to do that. A lake would be good, I'd like to fish, but they have snakes, don't they?" 

 

At first, I thought, our tractor doesn't need a lot of working on. Then I remembered Sam works on the tractor himself and generally fixes about everything on the place that doesn't work right. 

 

"We were talking about snakes just this morning," I told R.C. "We hardly see any at all. Once Sam was in the water working on the dock when a snake came up to watch what he was doing. Sam slapped at the water, and the snake moved on. You know what they say, 'Snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them.'" 

 

R.C. continued, "My dad knew how to work on cars and things and tried to teach me. I have no inclination for it, but if you give me a list and tell me how, then I can do it." 

 

The conversation made me think about the things Sam was doing home at the "farm." That very day I left Sam cutting down trees and limbs that extended into the field. The tree line was asserting itself outward toward the sun and hampering bush-hogging. A number of those trees were "bodock" trees and tough as nails to cut, as well they have thorns that can puncture a boot or a tire. 

 

Sam reported he cut the trees from the tree line but would wait until the ground dried out to use the tractor to shove them into the burn pile. One day the ground is as hard as a brickbat; the next day it's as soft as a marshmallow. 

 

There's a few subdivisions out here in the prairie and J.P., whom Sam knew in high school, mentioned at church something was digging up her manicured yard. The whole thing was torn up, she said. We have four traps so Sam called his bud J.T. who had two special-made armadillo traps. They set up all the traps, along with a game camera. 

 

Now picture this. J.P., who was a former Lee High School head majorette, stepped outside early Sunday morning with her dog. The dog saw the armadillo, and the armadillo spooked and ran into the too-small squirrel trap where the door clamped down on its tail. Quick-thinking J.P. grabbed a metal rake and, using it like a baton, she shooed the armadillo on into the trap. Then she called Sam and J.T., huffing and puffing from all the excitement, Sam said, like a "fella shooting his first buck." 

 

The moral of the story is never underestimate the courage and quick-thinking abilities of a Lee High School head majorette.

 

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.

 

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