Through the Fence 6-7-10
June 7, 2010
My friend, Terrie, is my hero. She has done more, hard ranching work in the last 20 years than most cowboys do in a lifetime. She’s pulled calves, bailed and hauled hay, raised orphan sheep, goats and calves with a milk goat. She’s nearly had her finger pinched off while working on a skid-steer. She got second degree burns last summer when the tractor radiator blew up before she could jump off of it. She’s roped calves, branded cows and castrated bulls. She gardens, cooks, repairs farm equipment and changes her own oil in the car. She’s no girly girl. That’s for sure.
She’s had lots of wild experiences in all that time, some of which I used to doubt happened the way she described. They just seemed too outlandish to be true. For instance, she tells a story about shooting a raccoon that had wandered into her front yard during the daytime. Knowing that it would not normally do so, she figured that it must be rabid. After shooting the animal, she called her husband who has a morbid fear of getting infected with rabies. He advised her to burn the body.
She dug a hole far away from the house and poured enough gasoline in there to fill a truck. When she struck the match and tossed it in the hole, the instantaneous explosion was so powerful – according to Terrie – that it launched the flaming carcass over the roof of her house. That may be the Gospel truth, but her only witnesses were her sons, 2 and 6 at the time.
She told me a wild story just last week that’s made me consider the possibility that her stories are, in fact, not exaggerated at all. This one was backed by a credible witness, her husband, Jesse. He never embellishes a story. If anything, he tends to downplay or withhold the dramatic details.
The other day they were getting their truck loaded with metal pipe to start building their new barn when they saw a huge red-tail hawk floundering on the ground a few feet away from their truck. Her husband stayed back at a safe distance, but Terrie walked fearlessly up to the animal.
It was oblivious to her presence because of its dire predicament. Apparently, the hawk had swooped down and grabbed a snake with his powerful talons. But when he did, the snake immediately wrapped around his feet and body. The hawk was totally entwined by the large snake, helpless to free himself. The more he squirmed and flapped his wings, the tighter the snake coiled around him. Terrie and her husband watched the frantic scene for a few minutes. He ran to get the camera, but couldn’t get it to work. (Where’s National Geographic when you need them?)
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Terrie went to fetch a spade to kill the snake. He kept advising her to “Get back or you’re going to get hurt!” which she ignored. She cautiously approached the tangling animals that were still vying for supremacy.
She pinned the snake under the sharp blade of the spade and cut off its head. Somehow in all the action, the hawk had flipped over on his back. Carefully, she untangled the hawk’s body from the snake’s death-grip. Terrie used that opportunity to pry the coils off his feet, gingerly avoiding his razor sharp claws.
The huge bird lay there motionless for a few moments, exhausted from the struggle. Carefully she grabbed one of his large wings and flipped him back over. The hawk paused only momentarily before regaining his footing. Then, without any apparent effort, lifted himself off the ground and flew away.
Terrie and her husband stood in silence with their mouths open. They couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. Even though she tells some crazy stories; this one may just prove that she doesn’t add extra details, after all. Then, I’d know that when she tells them, they are, like Barney Fife used to say, “No brag – just fact!”