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January 29th, 2018 by jomo

I was eating lunch at a student hangout on the edge of campus on the first or second day of the fall semester, eavesdropping on a full table of students next to me, telling how their summers had gone.

One person related how she had accidentally encountered her parents having sex. There were groans of dismay and disgust around the table.

Then she said “I can’t believe they enjoyed it.”

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Keep On Milking

January 12th, 2018 by jomo

My great-uncle Ed was milking twenty-six cows, mostly holsteins, but there were some jerseys mixed in. After a bit of whole milk for the house, the remainder was separated and the cream was shipped by rail twice a week to a creamery in Trinidad, Colorado, about 60 miles northwest. The skim milk was fed to the hogs, dogs, and whatever else was around.

The milking parlor had six stanchions as I remember. There were four of us milking: Rex, Wayne, and I worked by hand, and Uncle Ed, about 80 years old then, used a Surge Milker. I was the least experienced and the slowest, so Ed and I would do one cow each go-around, while Rex and Wayne milked a couple each. The Surge required less labor, but required more fussing around and Uncle Ed wasn’t real nimble.

Wayne wanted to go off and join the rodeo circuit. A few days before, he had packed up a bedroll and some stuff, taken one of the horses and ridden away. He was only gone for one night, but it caused quite a commotion. A lot was said about it, but mostly not within my earshot because I was sort of an outsider.

Anyway, he was back, and we were doing the evening milking. Rex was Wayne’s uncle, in his early 30s at the time, and Wayne was about 16. Something was said by one to the other that couldn’t be abided, and suddenly the two of them were down on the parlor floor behind the cows, rolling around in the cow flop and piss, flailing away at each other and cussing a blue streak.

Uncle Ed hollered at me, as I looked around the back end of my cow to watch the goings on, “Just keep milking, Slim! Just keep milking!”

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A night visitor

January 6th, 2018 by jomo

I was asleep in a hammock in the middle of the night at my Dad’s fishing lease on the Devil’s River in West Texas, when I was awakened by some animal rattling the bushes near my head. I fumbled around for the flashlight, found it and turned it on. The batteries were so weak that it gave off feeble light only a little better than the previous darkness. I saw there was some dark mass on the right side of my hammock, now near the far end, but I couldn’t tell what it was…some big bush that hadn’t been there earlier? A large tumbleweed, although they didn’t grow around there and there was no wind? Then the thing moved a bit, and its round face came into view, looking mildly back at me over its right shoulder – a porcupine! The only time, however dimly, I ever saw one alive on the ground.

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A snake story

January 2nd, 2018 by jomo

My wife came in and asked me “What kind of snake is red, yellow, and black striped on one end, checkered brown on the other end, and doesn’t have a head?” I told her that I needed to take a look at it.

Outside, among some rocks, was what she described. I turned over a rock that the strange snake’s midsection was beneath and it was revealed that it was two snakes: a coral snake was swallowing a garter or ribbon snake (small blotched water snake?).

We were bent over in the yard looking at the snakes when our landlord came driving by on his way to work. He stopped and came over to look, then went back to his pickup and got a tire iron, which he used to pound the coral snake to death (the other snake too, but it might have already been dead). Then he put the dead coral snake in a wide-mouth gallon jar he had in his truck and went on his way.

Later on he told me that he talked to Parks and Wildlife about the record size of coral snakes in Texas and said that our’s was right up there at around 35″, but it was hard to tell it’s exact size with the mangled front end.

I regretted his killing of the snake(s), but it was on his property, and he had three severely visually-impaired children that walked around the area. A coral snake is not much of a threat to most folks, but could be deadly to a blind person.

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