In a Sow’s Ear 2-1-10
Lulubelle claims that early in her marriage, porcupines taught her about the romance of ranch life even though quilled critters are not Lulubelle’s favorite animal. She wonders what does one do with one? She can’t cuddle it, pet it, groom it, teach it tricks or sell it at the stockyards. Porcupines eat bark off trees and at certain times of the year emit a horrendous yowl. She is convinced if the animal were an elk, that hideous noise would be called bugling.
Lulubelle maintains the screech is because of in-grown quills. She ponders: Does a porcupine scratch behind its ear? Does it grow new quills after it shoots them at something? How far does a quill travel? Is porcupine meat really good to eat? Does it taste like chicken? It’s said one shouldn’t kill a porky because if you’re lost in the wilderness and starving, you can always chase one down on foot. Do you use the quills as toothpicks? In the forest, if you had nothing but your bare hands to catch it, how would you pick it up?
Lulubelle thinks porcupines are part of Nature’s sense of humor; why else the quills on porcupines, tails on lambs and facial hair on men? She researched the subject and found the purpose behind each of the afore-mentioned aberrations. Quills protect porky’s while they waddle where they will. Lambs tails wiggle while they suckle signaling they’ve found the faucet, and facial hair on men gets them parts in movies.
Recently a porcupine found its way into Lulubelle’s and hubby, Bigger’s, (not his real name, but then, neither is Lulubelle’s) herd of cows. Bigger came up with words not necessarily found in dictionaries and never on a computer’s spell-check.
“Gracious,” said Bigger to Lulubelle, “a dear little porcupine has put frilly quills in five of the darling bovines in the north pasture. Sweetheart you must saddle your sweet little mare and ride this morning.”
“I’m happy to do so, Light of My Life” responded Lulubelle. “Where shall I herd these prickly cows? The pasture where they presently reside has no corrals, chutes or even a deep ravine.”
“Dad-blast it,” said Bigger, “there’s a set of corrals at the old Johnson homestead just a mile from the pasture. Get your dad-blamed horse, and get ’em there quick as you jolly well can. I’ll take the golly-gee-whiz pickup and a pair of dingity-dang pliers and some vinegar.”
“Vinegar?” murmured Lulubelle, “I thought you preferred beer.”
“My word,” declared Bigger, “your wit is exceeded only by your beauty. I suggest, my dearest, that your life will be considerably extended if you leave now.”
No doubt due to the pleasantries of Bigger’s request, Lulubelle complied. On horseback, she drove the cows from the north 40 pasture to the old corrals which had a squeeze chute. Bigger arrived bearing pliers and vinegar.
If quills have worked in deep, some say to cut off the tips and then apply vinegar to help extract the quills easily. These cows hadn’t had their extra decorations very long, so Bigger had no problem yanking them loose if you didn’t count the big bovine with quills in her hind hocks who truly wanted to kick Bigger’s head in.
Bigger developed further language tidbits when he discovered the sides of the chute had rusted tight and would not drop. Which meant he had to stick his head and arm in alongside the cow, ease the pliers down her leg and hope he could escape a broken arm or busted head.
Lulubelle, slightly nervous about the situation, uttered some words of comfort, “Gracious sakes, my dear, do be careful.”
Bigger peered up at Lulubelle from his croquet-wicket position and responded with several clever witticisms that cannot be repeated in a family column.
Lulubelle reports that they got the job completed and that she has increased her vocabulary as well as learning more about the romance of working with livestock.
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