In a Sow’s Ear | TheFencePost.com

In a Sow’s Ear

by Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

Newbie Newcomer wanted a place where he could look upon Mother Nature so he fulfilled his dream by purchasing a chunk of western land. At the foot of the property flows a fast-moving river. The rippling waters split around a picturesque small island ” “his” island. Newbie Newcomer built a log mansion on the bank of the river where he could view Mother Nature through an enormous picture window.

Naturally, Newbie Newcomer hired Local Yokel to “caretake and manage” the imposing residence while Newbie remained most of the year in the City earning the big dollars. Yokel’s job was to keep the structure in the best shape possible, the fences repaired or built as needed, and the grounds tidy and trimmed.

Newbie Newcomer said he loved watching Mother Nature’s wildlife ” mule and white tail deer, fox, geese, ducks and beaver ” parade like royalty across his bit of paradise.

Herons nested in the crowns of cottonwoods. A half-acre or so of tall grass and brush lay between Newbie’s dwelling and the river’s edge. Eagles and hawks soared high looking for a lunch of rabbits, gophers or mice that inhabited the half acre.

But Newbie Newcomer thought to improve his view.

“Those willows,” he said to Local Yokel, “spoil the picture. They look bedraggled and I can’t see the deer behind them. I think that untidy brush should be cut down.”

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Newbie dug up offending willows, spaded up rocks and any pesky wild saplings. He mowed the grass. Tiger Woods would have approved. The half acre became a smooth green carpet.

Though he could have said something, Local Yokel kept his mouth shut and just hauled the debris away.

Newbie wasn’t finished enhancing his property. Tall cottonwoods grew thick along the shore of the river. They thrust up without rhyme, reason or discipline. To make the panorama postcard perfect, Newbie Newcomer decided to cut down some of the cottonwoods. The remaining trees balanced his artful design, he claimed.

Though he could have said something, Local Yokel kept his mouth shut and just hauled the debris away.

Picture a sienna-colored log residence contrasting with an emerald half-acre blanket of green, its edge caressed by swift moving river water. Imagine a fringe of sky-reaching cottonwoods forming a framework for the oh-so-perfect scene.

Newbie was proud ” but puzzled. Now that willows and brush no longer impeded his vista, no deer appeared. He spotted nary a fox nor raccoon. Geese flew overhead from time to time, but none landed. Eagles and hawks merely dipped their wings, but made no attempt to drop by for a visit.

Without natural brush cover, the small varmints had vamoosed for lusher territory.

Naturally, the eagles and hawks followed. Larger creatures departed the neighborhood as well. They didn’t know they were supposed to hang around as lawn ornaments.

“What’s wrong,” Newbie asked Local Yokel. “Where have the wildlife creatures gone? I’ve made things beautiful for them. I have a thing about watching Mother Nature.”

At that moment, one of the cottonwoods at the river edge creaked, groaned and toppled.

It fell with a loud crash and splash.

“My tree!” gasped Newbie Newcomer. “What happened?”

“Well,” said Local Yokel, “not all the wildlife has skedaddled. Beavers like what you’ve done. They’re building a dam.”

“Oh, no!” said Newbie Newcomer. “It’ll ruin my design!”

Local Yokel could have kept his mouth shut, but he drawled, “guess ya gotta blame it on that darned Mother Nature.”