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Posted 8/12/14 (Tue)


I learned something again yesterday. So don’t ever think you are too old to learn. Because I’m getting pretty long in the tooth and still pick up something once in awhile. I learned it while cutting second cutting alfalfa. That makes two years in a row that we cut alfalfa twice! Wow! Climate change is good in our area!
Anyway, I’m cutting this alfalfa, and listening to public radio. On weekends, when in a tractor, I enjoy Prairie Home Companion. And this weekend it was an “encore” presentation. To you less read than I, encore is a nice way of saying a rerun. Makes it sound as if it’s in great demand. Here is an “encore” presentation…
I’m a brave son of a gun. I ain’t scared of nothing. Except Shirley. And then only if I’m in reach. But yesterday I met my match.
We were driving across the flat. If you’ve never been here, the flat is a big gumbo flat above the badlands. It’s eight miles to water. Kind of reminds me of a ranch we looked at last spring. Down by Newell, S.D. The place had water for the cattle. In the Belle Fourche River. But they hauled water for the house. I asked the rancher how far it was to water. He said it’s eight miles to Newell or 32 to Belle. That was the closest two places. I said, “No, I mean if you drill a well. How deep?” He thought a minute and said it’s a lot further that way. That’s the way the flat is. It’s a long way to water.
Back to my story. We were driving along the flat looking for some bucking horses. All of a sudden Shirley let out a scream. I drove on. She does that a lot. Finally I noticed she was pretty excited and I asked what she was screaming about. She kept pointing back.
So, being the good husband that I am, I turned around. There, walking across the flat was a huge snapping turtle. I mean huge. He must have been a couple of feet across his shell. Weighed like 40 pounds. I got out to catch him. To tell the truth, there are not many wild animals I can outrun. So I was pretty excited too.
I had heard stories about turtles biting guys toes off, or fingers, or other appendages. So I was a little wary. I studied the situation pretty closely. Shirley and the dogs were pretty nervous about this deal. I went to pick it up. And it snapped at me. If I grabbed it by the shell it would hit me with those big claws on its feet. Nobody had warned me about that.
After studying the situation, I got a sorting stick out of the pickup. I stuck it down by his head and he bit it. Then I just threw it in the pickup. The stick and the turtle. The dogs really didn’t like this deal. Shirley was a little upset that I put it in the cab and she had to ride in the back. But then who would argue with a 300-pound man with a turtle on a stick. It’s not a situation you normally see.
We hauled the turtle down to a little dam. And I led him down to water. He led pretty good. He was sulled up and wasn’t going to let go of that stick. And I couldn’t get it out of his mouth. I figured he was mad at me. I think maybe he was heading for the river. And at the rate he was travelling, he would be there in 20 years. And he had been travelling for about 10 already. And then here comes this fat guy along and hauls him back to the dam where he started.
So he sat there, mad, with that fiberglass stick in his mouth. And I left him. So if you ever run across a big snapper waving a five-foot fiberglass rod at you, it’s him. And if he’s headed for the river, maybe just let him go. I think he had a plan.
I was feeling kind of bad that I had wasted this turtle’s time. But then I sat back, lit up, had a drink, and figured “what the heck? What’s time to a turtle?”