Saturday, April 28, 2007

Crickets Chirping

It's quiet on Eegeebegee this weekend. Last Saturday, all the family within driving distance converged to celebrate the news that the Colonel was going to be a grandfather x 2. Number One son and the mother of my first grandson (an exalted position for which she receives regular accolades) drove up from the Redneck Riviera to bring the good news. I'm hoping for a granddaughter. My mother laughed at that hope and proclaimed, "It'll be a boy."

Caleb had a blast. He loves rocks and the gravel road up to the house was just an amazing bonanza. He would toddle along, spy a rock, bend to collect it, and announce as if it were not one among millions on the drive, "Ock!" He took great pleasure in pitching his "ocks" in the pond, and was amazed when the rock I threw skipped a half dozen times. Great age--everything Pop does is magic.

But this weekend, I'm alone with a flock of hummingbirds to keep me company. Miss Brenda and her family are on a trip out West to raft the Colorado. I was invited, but I'm too busy printing money to pay for the trip.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Honoring Michael

One of the members of my team e-mailed yesterday with the sad news that a young member of his extended family, a soldier named Michael, had been killed in Iraq. At the end of his e-mail, this 20-year Navy man expressed the sentiment of our nation in the question: "When do we say enough is enough?"

In addition to expressing my condolences for his family's loss, I felt compelled to challenge the unspoken assertion that Michael's sacrifice had been for a lost cause. I told my friend that,

"I have to believe that his sacrifice makes our country stronger and safer. I am so proud to be associated with you and yours and the tiny percentage of our nation’s population that has answered the call to secure the freedoms of the rest. No soldier who as ever given his life for America’s interests has done so in vain. I assure you, our warriors’ sacrifice and service during this time will not be in vain and will add eternal light to our great nation’s beacon of freedom. There are great accomplishments being made by our uniformed men and women in the name of freedom, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world, despite the self-serving pronouncements of many at home who denigrate those efforts. I will remember Michael."

I am, frankly, disgusted with the spineless anti-war political manuevering and posturing from all but a few of the more principled of our nation's political leadership. Most of the current war critics were all for taking the fight to the terrorists and the states sponsoring their barbarity, when the popular mood in our nation was for that. Now that our people are turning against the war effort, self-serving politicians are attempting to grab power by cynically bending to the American populace's fickle will.

On the other hand, most of the "hawks" in support of the war are not willing to take the needed steps to put this nation on a true war footing. I saw a picture the other day of some graffitti scribbled on a white board in a Marine combat outpost in Iraq that read, "America is not a war. The Marine Corps is at war. America is at the mall."

Michael was a soldier--a member of a tiny minority of our nation's men and women who answer our country's call to service. Michael's service was selfless. His sacrifice was honorable. His, and his comrades', accomplishments in the name of freedom are greater than most in our nation will ever recognize. Michael and his fellow American freedom warriors deserve our honor, and one of the best ways to honor them is to demand that our political leadership make the hard decisions to truly take our entire nation to war against the nations supporting terrorism as a tactic against freedom. Until the political mullahs and ayatollahs exhorting their nations to jihad against the west are silenced (read: crushed by force of arms), we will not truly honor the sacrifice of our warriors in the cause of freedom.

This Marine will remember Michael.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Home on the Range

There's cows in my yard this morning, and I'm not a bit surprised.

Our premises protector and anti-turkey-hunting neighbor dog, BUD, was going out of his mind yesterday barking like a... well, like a dog with something seriously different to bark at. Miss Brenda stepped outside to investigate and came back in the door with the announcement: "We have cows" (Italics provided to indicate feminine announcements and pronouncements).

Miss Brenda and I pulled on our boots and went to see if we could find the break in the fence with our neighbors, through which our bovine visitors had breached our security cordon. My thought (out loud to a very skeptical Miss Brenda) was to herd the cows back through and conduct a field expedient repair of said breach. Miss Brenda, ever supportive, remarked in her confidence-building way, "Yeah, right. You don't know the first thing about cows, and when was the last time you worked with barbed wire!"

Ignoring her completely baseless assertions and aspersions regarding the competency of her MAN regarding all things manly (i.e., pushing cows, mending fences, defending the homeland, etc.), I led the way on a circuit of our property to find the interlopers' entrance. To save time, I picked up the trail of cow prints and began back-tracking. Miss Brenda tagged along, mumbling something under her breath about cows and mountain men.

As hard to believe as it may seem to those of you who are aware of my keen eye for tracking game, I lost the trail. Miss Brenda tried to help, "Here's a track!"

"No, Dear. That's a deer track."

"Here's one!"

"Sweetie, that's a turkey track."

"Stupid cows!"

We looped back to pick up the trail again, and soon I was hot on a fresh set of cow tracks. Bent at the waist, my eyes fastened to the trail six feet in front of me, it was all I could do to keep from baying like a coon hound.

"Look out!"

From long experience with the different tones and modulation of my lovely wife's voice, I detected a hint of caution, with a touch of alarm. I recognized the tone immediately, because it was one I normally hear just before something falls on my head. I stopped cold, and went into my fighting crouch (Miss Brenda later remarked that my "fighting crouch" looked more like a "defensive cringe." But her untrained eye misses a lot of nuances of the fighting style of a trained, steely-eyed, combat Marine).

"There's a cow in the pines, right there next to you!"

Upon further examination, I determined that she was indeed a point. There was a cow...with a new-born calf. And, when I say "new-born," I mean NEW-BORN. Still wet. Wobbly. Momma not happy with my proximity to her baby.

After an interminable period of oohs and aahs and picture-taking ( Miss Brenda never goes anywhere outside any more without her camera), we gave momma cow and calf a wide berth and picked up the trail once again. It led to a low point in the fence, over which it was obvious that the cows had easily trespassed on my domain.

I gave up on the idea of herding the errant walking hamburgers. Pushing momma and her calf was a non-starter, and one of the cows was actually a bull, who, though he seemed docile enough, was a BULL.

I called our neighbors on the phone and asked if they were missing any cows. They came right over, but came to the same conclusion I did about momma and the calf. My neighbor said, "I'll come back in the morning with a bucket of feed and they'll follow me home."

He must be a late riser, because it is past 0800 and the beeves are still roaming my range. Darn "free-grazers"! Better see if I can find a gun for hire--there's liable to be a range war.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Global Cooling?

Evidently someone at Weather Control Central didn't get the global warming memo. I know I'm not in warm, sunny Florida anymore, but North Mississippi is still in the Mid-SOUTH! Sustained below freezing temps during the first week of APRIL just ain't right. All the crepe myrtles around the house and lining the drive agree with me. Two weeks ago they were covered in a month's worth of green leafy growth. Now they look like someone sprayed them with the stuff they use to control kudzu alongside the highways.

It was so cold last weekend, that #2 son and I decided that hanging around the house with his mother would be more fun than sitting in Vaught-Hemingway stadium watching our Rebels play each other in the Grove Bowl.

I was sitting in a barber shop last week and heard a turkey hunter claim it was so cold that he had seen a frozen Butterball in the woods. I know that is hard to believe--but it is true. The little bald colonel still needs haircuts.

It has been so cold here on Eegeebegee that even the grass over the septic tank has turned brown.

But, I'm not complaining. Two months from now, when the temperature and humidity are having a contest to see which can reach 100 first, we'll be begging for this cool weather.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's hard to hunt turkeys with a german shepherd in your back pocket.

We haven't met any of our neighbors yet, but we have become friendly (too friendly, if you ask me) with our closest neighbor's dog. In fact, BUD (Big Ugly Dog) met us at our gate the day we arrived at Eegeebegee. He is a fearsome looking german shepherd, with the gentlest disposition. He must not get much attention at home, because after we patted him on the noggin' once he has spent more time over here than away.

I like the fact that we have a big black dog patrolling the premises. But this morning I wasn't happy for his companionship. I was trying to slip into the back forty and call up a tom turkey. I set my decoy out, put my back to a big ole tree, and broke out my slate call. At least three gobblers were sounding off in my general vicinity, so I started in on my best rendition of a hen turkey looking for some love. Two gobblers answered. So did BUD. He came racing into the field and ran up to my decoy growling like it was time to fight for Corps and country. When I hissed, "Git!!", ole BUD spun around and looked in amazement at the bush that sounded like me. I hissed at him again and he took off.

The toms were still gobbling, so I started in again on the slate call. One gobbler was coming in from the right and about the time he closed the distance to 150 yards, and about to come into my property, a shotgun blast ended his trot towards me. I couldn't see, but I guess my neighbor got him. "Wonder why ole BUD is not pestering his owner, instead of me," I grumbled.

I got up to move, and BUD was instantly at my feet.


BUD looked hurt and slinked off.

I walked further back on my property and set up on a powerline where I had heard a gobbler the other day. As soon as I scratched the slate, a gobbler answered. So did BUD. The stupid dog was not going to let me hunt this morning. So, I got up and did a little scouting. BUD thought this was a much better idea than turkey hunting and he raced around me in exploratory circles through the woods.

When we came to the fence at the back of my property, BUD scooted under and into the pasture on the other side. He disappeared into a brushy gully.

Ten seconds later, BUD came racing back out of the gully, looking over his shoulder. He ran up to and through the fence ten yards from me and spun around to face his chaser. I looked back in the direction from which BUD had come, and saw the biggest coyote I had ever seen stopped forty yards away, looking my way. We stared at each other for a few seconds, while BUD barked and growled menacingly from his side of the fence, and then Wiley spun and disappeared.

He's lucky all I had was bird shot in the gun.