Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 11-7-11
Been busy this week getting my gardens “winterized.” I picked the very last of the late green beans, cherry tomatoes and peppers. All three were a pretty sorry crop, but better than none.
Then I pulled all the dead plants and the steel posts, stored the tomato cages, and tilled the garden plots. I also mowed a few weeds that survived the drought.
Now, all I’ve got to do to finish getting reading for the winter is put plastic over the windows in the chicken house, plant some late wheat in the gardens, put some window shutters on our home, cut a few dead trees, burn a brush pile, overseed the yard with fescue in hopes it will rain sometime, soak down the roots of the small trees in the yard and put up the wild bird feeders. I also need to build my deer blind.
My wife, ol’ Nevah Yield, harvested her herb garden, dried the herbs and stashed them away for winter fare. She pulled all the dead flowers, except for her mums which are still blooming spectacularly.
Last week our regular group of card players got together at the Old Boar’s Den. I made some of my “beef and everything else” soup for lunch, then we played seven point cut-throat pitch until 5 p.m.
One of the best things about this group of fellers is that I’m always bound to hear at least one story good enuf for this column. This time ol’ C. Faren Wyde provided that story. Here is it.
Faren grew up around two old cowboys named Coop and Shorty who could remember the good old days in the Flint Hills beef bizness.
Coop said that in the fall when the huge ranches in the southern part of Chase County were gathering and shipping their calves, he and Shorty would bunk out for the duration of the roundup in a hardly-could-call-it-rustic place they called The Herd Shack.
The Herd Shack wuz a one-room building crudely built out of scrap lumber and tin. It wuz equipped with a wood stove, two bunks and not much else. However, the Shack did have a ceiling made out of burlap bags and above the bags wuz a few inches of prairie hay insulation.
On the night this story happened, Coop and Shorty had spent a long, chilly, rainy a’horseback day gathering cattle. When they arrived at The Herd Shack, the first item of bizness wuz to put an old metal wash tub on the floor to catch the rainwater dripping steadily through the roof and ceiling.
Second order of bizness wuz to get a fire roaring in the stove to heat the place up. Both tasks were accomplished in short order.
But then things started happening. As the stove and stovepipe heated up, the “attic” began to heat up too, which in turn awoke the “little white-bellied mice” who called the hay insulation home. Soon, Coop and Short could hear the mice scurrying about to escape the heat and, sure enuf, pretty soon one of the mice tried to escape through the ceiling and fell directly into the wash tub catch basin, which by now had about an inch of drip water accumulated in the bottom.
Coop and Shorty went about their bizness of fixing something to eat for supper and began drying out their clothing. All through this action the little white-bellied mouse wuz trying to crawl out of its new watery home and made a persistent scratching on the sides of the wash tub.
Eventually, the scratching sound began to wear on Shorty’s nerves. He asked Coop, “Why don’t ‘cha do something about that mouse?”
Coop replied, “Why don’t ‘cha do something about it yourself if its bothering you so much?”
So, Shorty did just that! He pulled out his revolver and with one horrendously loud shot that reverberated throughout The Herd Shack and Coop and Shorty’s ears, Shorty put an end to the mouse’s misery.
As the echoes of the shot died out, the rest of the “little white-bellied mice” vacated the premises – apparently deciding that sharing space with a couple of grouchy old cowboys wasn’t a wise thing to do.
Faren added that Shorty and Coop worked out of The Herd Shack for years after that and never burned the place down. They both lived to ripe old ages.
Guess that’s sufficient grist for your mental mill for this week, so I’ll close with a few words about cowboys from Steve Kanaly. He said, “Despite what people think of them, cowboys take pride in how they look, and that look is important to them.”
As a part-time drugstore cowboy myself, I agree with that statement.
Have a good ‘un.