Sunday, February 26, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 53rd Installment

for the back of the old house, and at the corner, I looked back and sure enough he was following 20 feet behind. I untied my club from the wagon wheel rim that was holding it in a curve as it dried. We had selected and cut them while they were green from the old willow tree, so we could bend them just right and let them dry. I had made my club 36 inches long, stripped off the bark and carved a rough handle. Russell’s was almost exactly the same only a little more slender and with more curve. These were useful for swinging when we got close in. Lying on the ground were our throwing clubs. We made these about a foot long with a fair heft. We liked to have the throwing clubs to hurl at jackrabbits trying to escape. We sometimes hit them but rarely killed one, but it was just plain fun to throw at a running target.

Jackrabbit drive clubs?” Bootsey Monte Everett Rudd asked. They were his first words in ten minutes, but that suited me. I didn’t like school kids who chattered on and on about nothing. “Chattering is my job,” I thought.

Okay listen up,” I became the teacher. “Just like locusts move in ten year cycles, jackrabbits become thick in ten year cycles. I mean really thick, so thick they over–run the farmers, eating half of the alfalfa the farmer produces and pooping on the rest. Hasn’t Ted told you about this?” He shook his head. “So during the uppermost peak number of the tenth year, the farmers need to kill as many as they can before the invading horde of jackrabbits puts the poor family farm out of business. The farmers and ranchers get together and organize ‘jackrabbit drives.’ The farmers use the age–old method of building a funnel. They put up the pen which is a fence built in a thirty foot circle and about ten feet high. There is one entrance, and from that opening, the men put in several hundred feet of snow fence at ninety degrees out both ways to create the huge funnel. The snow fence slats are close enough so a jackrabbit can’t get through. A lot of the farm families and ranchers show up with their kids and horses, and the women bring ten gallon cans of coffee and hot chocolate to drink and about two hundred dozen donuts. They build a huge fire which keeps the coffee and hot chocolate hot.”

Then what?” That was Bootsey Monte Everett Rudd’s fifth and sixth words and last words that day.

Then about ten or fifteen horsemen ride out then starting about two miles out riding toward the drive. This seems to get most of the jackrabbits moving in the same general direction. About a half mile out Russ and I and fifty or so volunteers join in the horseman’s line. We whistle, yell and bang

500 more words tomorrow

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