The City Cousin

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


The City Cousin For any of y’all that may have had the opportunity to live in the country or those that may have been fortunate enough to make frequent long period visits to the country, farm or
ranch, you should be able to relate to this story. I have often mentioned my grandparents place outside of San Angelo, TX. It wasn’t a huge farm or ranch but it and my grandparents were pure
country.

Submitted: January 11, 2018

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Submitted: January 11, 2018

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A A A


The City Cousin

 


For any of y’all that may have had the opportunity to live in the country or those that may have been fortunate enough to make frequent long period visits to the country, farm or ranch, you should be able to relate to this story.


I have often mentioned my grandparents place outside of San Angelo, TX. It wasn’t a huge farm or ranch but it and my grandparents were pure country. 


As with most “country folk” back then (late 1950s), Sunday was a day to go to church, get back home and start on an early dinner made for kinfolk or close friends to come visiting Sunday afternoon. This lunch/supper meal usually consisted of country fried chicken, mounds of mashed taters, gallons of gravy, homemade bread or biscuits, some sort of greens, like turnip or collard, maybe corn on the cob, cooked carrots, turnips (yuck, cooked turnips were just nasty), maybe some cantaloupe or watermelon, gallons and gallons of iced tea, and platters and platters of peach cobbler (maybe apricot if the west Texas hail storms hadn’t beat all the blossoms off the trees that Spring).


There wasn’t any television back then because the television had only become affordable to most folks a year or 2 before and there was no signal broadcast that was strong enough to get that far away from the transmitters. There were only three stations back then and someone would always have to go out to the TV antennae and twist it to receive one of the channels at a time. This was meticulous work, a hair too far to the right or left of perfect resulted in heavy “snow” or horizontal flip (where the picture would flip over and over and over and over, etc.) In our case, it was channels 2, 7, and 9, all black and white and you, as stated before, could not receive all three without adjustments, hollering right or left through a “water brigade” made up of someone in front of the TV, someone posted at the back door, and someone performing the antenna twist required for the perfect picture. Most of the time, it was the “alpha” male of the house that gave the instructions and consisted of “Right, go more right” “Twist the pole right” “Your other right, ya idiot”, “it’s the hand that you put over your heart when you say the Pledge of Allegiance”, and other commands not suitable for this PG-13 story. What the antenna pole twister did not want to hear was “Dad’s coming out”, that was usually a bad thing. The point is, television was not a big part of our lives back then and even less so for country folk.


These Sunday afternoon meals were a big thing. This one particular Sunday, my grandfather’s sister was coming out and bringing her grandkids. There were 3 of them and they were about the same ages as my brothers, sister, and myself. Luke, Bobby, and Becky. Their parents lived in the city and we had a little scorn for their naiveté toward country living. Things like: the chickens don’t like to be petted, especially the big Rhode Island red rooster (he would chase you down and spur you if you irritated him), the green striped lizards won’t hurt you, the big Rusty Ned lizards would chase you, every animal was put on earth to be ridden, you don’t walk through the chicken yard barefooted, make sure there is toilet paper in the outhouse, and always check for spiders under the toilet seat before going, cow patties need to reach a certain aging before they are suitable for chunking, don’t put snakes in your pocket (Granny’s number one rule, actually no reptiles in your pockets was the rule), and don’t throw rocks at skunks (obvious rule). 


After the cursory “hellos” and “come on up” All groups went their separate ways, women to the kitchen to help with the meal preparations and get enlightened on the latest gossip, men to the porch to discuss politics, farm and ranch products prices, breeding stock, stuff like that. The kids split up pretty much according to age groups. As Bobby and Bonnie were about the same age as my little sister (3 to 4 years old) they had to stay up by the porch. As we older kids wandered back toward the back of the house to look for a new adventure, we heard my grandmother’s voice “Y’all let Luke play with y’all!”. Crap, we would have preferred Luke stay up around the porch because he was a “city boy” and wasn’t experienced in the ways of “adventuring” like we were. “Yes, ma’am” we hollered back to my granny. Granny’s commands were law and it’s always best not to make Granny mad. She had a memory like an elephant and a razor strop for punishing errant children. So Luke came trotting up to us with his Sunday clothes on and shined shoes. “What do ya’ll want to do?” My older brother turned and looked at him, “looks like it’s going to be something that keeps you clean, city boy”. 
We headed out toward the chicken yard and the garden that my grandparents kept fenced to keep the deer, raccoons, possums, and other critters out so they wouldn’t eat the vegetables they grew and “canned” every year. We never went it the garden unless it was with one of my grandparents. If you have ever been whipped with a squash plant that you stepped on and broke, you know why. 


Off to the side of the chicken yard, there was a holding pen for occasions when there was a cow about to calve or to hold very young calves till they got big enough to fend for themselves. Grampa would herd a cow that was close to delivery to the holding pen so she would give birth in the holding pen and he wouldn’t have to chase her out of the mesquite and cactus to get the calf closer to the house. Sometimes cows had problems birthing and it would kill them and the calf if someone wasn’t there to help, hence the holding pen. 
This particular day, we noticed there was a deer inside the pen eating the left over cow feed and decided it would be a great idea to lasso the doe and pet her. We had done this numerous times before and it was really pretty simple: toss a lasso on the deer, pull it up to the post that was anchored in the middle of the pen, cover her head with a towel or teeshirt, and it will settle down and be still. The trick is to NOT get stomped or bitten till you get the blindfold on them, this is true with about anything you rope. We gathered up our lassos, sash cord (in case we had to tie her feet), and a burlap bag for the blindfold and started sneaking up on the holding pen to put our plan into action.


The plan was for me to sneak around the opposite side of the pen so the deer would see me and my older brother would toss the lasso on her. He was also the best with a rope and could rope a chicken on the run. Being skinny as a rail, I was pretty good at sneaking and got around to the opposite side without her seeing me and my older brother got up to the outside of the pen close enough to toss the rope on her. I made some noise and her head jerked up and stared in my direction, ears instantly coming erect and twitching around to locate the source of the noise she had heard. My older brother tossed the lasso and it landed perfectly over her head and he snatched the slack out of the rope, pulling it tight around her neck. This caused the young doe to literally explode, jumping and bouncing and dragging my older brother off the holding pen fence and around the pen in the dirt. My younger brother and Luke jumped the fence to help and their combined weight slowed the deer’s progress of dragging my older brother all around the pen. I jumped the fence and grabbed the rope and looped the slack around the anchor post in the middle of the lot. The friction of the rope on the anchor post slowed the doe enough for everyone to gain their footing and we eased the doe up to the anchor post and I tossed the burlap bag over her head. Being blinded by the bag, she settled down almost immediately. We made a couple of more loops around the anchor post just in case our touching her might unnerve her and trying to escape.


Some folks may interpret this little escapade as cruel but we had no intention of harming the young deer in any way. We rarely saw a deer close enough to be able to marvel at one of God’s creatures close up unless it was dead and we learned from time of toddlers to NEVER kill anything for the sake of killing and that all creatures were God’s gifts. The only time you kill is for food and we didn’t want to eat her, just pet her.
After a few minutes of admiring this beautiful creature, we reverted back to one of the previously mentioned things about country living: everything is meant to be ridden. What a great idea!! We decided that Luke needed to ride the deer! As it turned out, Luke was adamantly against this idea so, being the gentlemen that we were, we decided to help Luke ride the deer. He was small enough not to hurt the animal and he really needed the experience even if he didn’t really want it. 


We loaded Luke on the deer’s back and told him to hold on around the deer’s neck. Luke was not having any part of this adventure so we used some of the sash cord to tie him on the deer, making sure the binding on his wrists and ankles weren’t too tight to cut of the circulation or give him too severe rope burns (we were experienced in these matters from “years” of trial and error). So, here we have Luke securely mounted and attached to the animal and ready for a lifetime experience that he would probably not get anywhere else. 
The moment of truth has arrived, we slipped the rope off the deer’s neck and snatched the tow sack from over its head. Wow!!!! The deer literally went ballistic and launched itself straight into the air. My older brother was trying to get the lasso looped out to recapture the critter when it literally jumped straight over the holding pen fence and went running out across the prairie as if it was on fire, quickly disappearing into the dense “woods” (woods in West Texas is mostly made up of mesquite trees and prickly pear cactus). The really bad part of this was that Luke was still pretty securely attached to her. Necessarily, having become one, Luke went with her. 
I am sure we have all had that “ah haah” moment (as I got older, it became that “aw shit” moment) where you realize that a situation is not going to end well and there will definitely be ramifications for your actions. This realization hit home quickly as we could not return to the house without the very person that was the subject of Granny’s last command (Y’all let Luke play with y’all). We had no choice but to hustle down toward the last place we saw Luke and see if we could at least find the body. 


We ran as fast as we could to that spot, calling quietly for Luke so the folks back at the house couldn’t hear us and become alarmed. Just about the time we got to that spot, Luke came stumbling back in our direction. Thankfully the bindings weren’t too tight to escape but there may have been a problem from dismounting the deer as he had been dragged through, what appeared to be, numerous prickly pear cactus and a considerable amount of the small mesquite bushes. His “Sunday go to meeting” clothes were ripped and stained from the cactus and other obstacles he came into contact with. One of his shoes was missing (we never found it), his pants were torn, one sleeve was missing from his shirt, the pocket had been ripped off, and there were several blood spots where the cactus thorns had pierced the skin. Overall, a sad looking sight to behold.

Understandably, he was crying either from pain or relief for surviving the ordeal or possibly both.
I was the first one to him and made the mistake of getting with arms reach as he socked me in the eye. I am not sure if he was just mad and hurt or if he thought I was going to put him back on the deer. I was the only one punched and did not punch him back, actually I never even thought about hitting him back possibly subconsciously realizing I was one of the reasons his clothes were ruined and he looked like a pin cushion. We picked as many of the obvious thorns and burrs off him as we could and headed back to the house.


There were two things that were crystal clear to us on our walk back to the house:
1. There was going to be a whuppin’ involved for this adventure.

2. Luke didn’t want to play with us anymore

Post script: Luke went on to becoming fearless as he started riding dirt bikes, racing cars, and rode bulls, bareback, and saddle broncs in many rodeos. He is still “kin folk” and doesn’t begrudge us the adventure of riding his first deer and we are all close as kin folk should be. He does remind us occasionally that we never paid him for ruining his “Sunday go to meeting” clothes.

Dan Harry
(c)


© Copyright 2020 Daniel Harry. All rights reserved.

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