Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Charming Redneck Life

Yesterday, Mack, the guy who mows my farm and repairs fence and cleans out the patch of pines will die before he gets to the pines, because no matter what I say or do cleaning out the pines is somewhere on his priority list down below dying--anyway, Mack offered me a slab of deer meat and a taser. I took the deer meat. I declined the taser. It was a thick short black stick, like a police baton, and Mack showed me how it functioned as a flashlight. "And then when you click this button over--" He hit the switch again, and blue and silver sparks crackled insanely around the rim of the thing. I jumped three feet. Mack looked disappointed. "I thought you might be afraid of it," he said.

"I am afraid of it," I said. "Furthermore if I stuck that thing in my purse I'd hit the switch by accident and tase myself." Furthermore--though I didn't say this to Mack--I've caught hold of electric fence enough times to know that I hate being electrocuted.

"Well, I worry about you, Miss Kim, I do," Mack said, sadly tucking the taser away. Mack is always after me to learn to shoot his 22, but he knows as well as I do that even if I learned to shoot a gun I wouldn't actually own one, much less keep one on my person. Not that Bristol's a dangerous place. If you're not shot by a blood relative or someone you are sleeping with, you are pretty much not going to be shot.

"Somebody comes after me, I'll just kick him in the nuts," I said, and went to put the deer meat in the freezer.

We had some fresh deer meat on our farm recently, enjoyed by the pack of coyotes I suspect have taken up residence in the woods between my fields and my neighbor's. I hear the coyotes at night, sometimes right up around the house, and I've seen them in my fields in daylight, which is rare. I don't begrudge them their deer, but I wish they wouldn't have scattered the bones of it all throughout my fields. "Is that a LEG?" asked Caroline, my young friend, when we were out riding the other day.

It was a leg, with a tiny split hoof attached. I suggested to Mack that it might be time to do something about the coyotes. He promised to shoot them. Stanley, another old friend who is repainting my barn, overheard. "Can I have the pelt?" he asked.

"Stanley, he shoots it, you can have the whole damn thing," I said. "Don't you go skinning it in my driveway."

Stanley nodded and grinned but I knew for sure that Mack would never shoot the coyotes. Despite carrying an arsenal in his pickup, Mack never shoots anything. I've seen him miss groundhogs on purpose. Only thing Mack ever shot, in fifteen years on my farm, was the wasps' nest growing on the back side of one of my cross-country jumps last summer. By the time we noticed it, that sucker was as big as a beach ball, and impervious to normal means of control. Mack drove out to the field and emptied four cans of wasp spray onto the nest with no apparent result. So he drove out with his 22 and blasted the thing to pieces. Skunks came at night and ate up the wasps.

It was a historic win until the jump collapsed right where it was shot. Though as my daughter says, she and I built it ourselves, so maybe it wasn't all that sturdy to begin with.

I've been casting about for more coyote-killers, with surprisingly bad luck. Usually people around here are just lining up to shoot at things. Every week or so security at the local regional airport posts a photo of a GUN they prevented from being taken on an AIRPLANE, but we all know it's not terrorists, it's just another woman who forgot to empty her purse before she got in the security line.

I discussed this problem with Mike, who boards a horse with me. Mike is my more usual source for deer meat and I figured he probably keeps a gun or two in his truck himself. "I'm not sure you want to kill the coyotes," Mike said. "Haven't you noticed? We ain't had any problem at all with skunks this year. I believe the coyotes are eating all the skunks."

This is a strong point. I'm still considering it.