Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sawmills, Dogs, and Calves

Wherein the dog is the hero.

"Hand me that one-and-a-quarter box wrench, Boy."  Uncle Jep held his left hand toward me without raising his head from beneath the frame.  Grandpa and Uncle Jep have this old sawmill they cobbled together years ago.  We are getting it ready to saw some logs we've had stacked for a couple years down by the river.  Those two old coots have got it into their heads that they can erect a new chicken coop and storage barn with the native timber they have collected.  I am not exactly work-brickle, but I hate that sawmill.  You would too, could you see that 48-inch blade in action!

So anyway, I am told that years ago Uncle Jep and Grandpa argued the merits of building their own sawmill as opposed to carting the logs miles away and hauling the lumber home, and paying someone else to do what they could do themselves.  Well, as they travelled about the countryside doing their work here and there, junk started coming home with them, a few pieces at a time.  Rails for a carriage, scrap iron for frames and beds, the old rusty Buick.  And now here stands the testimony to their ingenuity and perseverance.  And here we are, Uncle Jep working on that old Buick straight eight that powers this monstrosity.

"I ha'n't tole you I went over t'see Eldon last night.  Been two months now since we carried him home from that field yonder.  Eldon's doin' right well, now.  Doc Barrett tells him that fer a man what suffered a stroke like he did, he is right lucky.  Well, you've seen him a time or two and know that his right leg is a bit game.  Speech still some slurred, too.  But he is right alert, and determined, too.  Since you saw him, his gait has improved a good 'eal.  We walked together to his hen house last evenin'.  He made it fine.  His talkin' is easier to follow now.  Du'n't seem to have any memory loss or mental lapses.  Fact is, he tole me what he was up to in that field the day he was struck.  Gonna put 'er in broomcorn, can he get all that yucca and tumbleweeds cleaned out.

"Now crank that thing while I crawl outta here."  I jerked the crank once.  She fired immediately.  Uncle adjusted the idle, revved it a bit and she was purring like a kitten.  Then we set to getting the belts down, installing them and dressing them.  While we were attending to the task, Uncle Jep said, "Did I ever finish tellin' you about the time my dog, Budge, brought in that red calf durin' the snowstorm? Yep, jes' comin' on dark and the snow was fallin' perty good, not a blizzard, but definitely gonna pile us up some snow.  I was jes' comin' up from the hen house with a bucket a eggs when here come Budge a pantin' and a whinin'.  I set my bucket down an' start rubbin' his ears.  But he turn back to the barn lot and start barkin'.  'Okay, Boy,' I says, 'let's go see what you want.'

"Well, doncha know he got me back a the barn lot an' layin' there in a snowbank is this little red calf.  Could see she jus' been born a little while ago.  I could see from the tracks that Budge had got her to walk to here, but then she musta drop an' could'n go on.  Well, sir, I pick up the calf and take her to the house an' set Grace to workin' on her.  I start to set down by the farr, but Budge won't have it.  He grab my jacket cuff and he tug me toward the door.  Long story short, he take me out in that snow storm and lead me plumb down to that elder stand by the crick.  An' what do you think?  Layin' there up agin her Mama's body is another calf!  Ol' Maudie had done had twins, but hit were too much for her.  The cow were dead, but the calf were still alive.

"Anyway, those two are Jennie and Jodie, and you well know they are our best milkers.  Good ol' Budge.  He were some dog!

© 2014 David W. Lacy


Vee said...

Good story, and a reminder that the art of storytelling has pretty much been lost. Because everyone is so busy, the stories of our generation may be never be told.

Pearl said...

Oh, I love this.

You need to pull these together, make an anthology. Or start sending them to Reader's Digest!!


vanilla said...

Vee, I try to tell as many as I can; hope I do them justice.

Pearl, I truly appreciate your comment. Glad you like them.

Shelly said...

I agree with Pearl- these would make an excellent anthology- and need to be read by more than just us on your blog.

Sharkbytes said...

What a neat story. And I agree... you should compile some of these.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, thank you. I appreciate your assessment.