The below is also published in the 2009-2010 Tarrant County College Fine Arts Literary Journal, “Marine Creek Reflections,” along with a few other of my pieces which I may add here later. These three narratives are all true.
The “28 pound screaming angel with golden curls” in the final of the three accounts, is my precious niece, Kami Deann Hunter, who passed from this plane of existence on May 1, 2013. She asked me before she left us to write her biography. I reminded her that I had already begun in a way, having written this about her. My brother Paul, in the first story, is her father. We are all brokenhearted to lose her, but I hope comforted a little remembering her precious, unique personality and courageous spirit evidenced so early in life.
Dedicated to Kami Deann Hunter, 1975 – 2013. Aunt Donna loves you.
Peril and Rescue on the Farm
by Donna Hunter, 2008
Some snapshots from my childhood and youth. Most days were uneventful, boring even. But when they weren’t, they were often scary. Here are three stories of dangerous situations and the heroes who came to the rescue.
The Red Bird
My brother Paul thought he’d raise some chickens. He bought the brooder and the fertilized eggs. The eggs hatched. He took care of the little chickies for a while, and at some point lost interest. They managed to grow to adulthood anyway (most of them.) Reddish gold colored chickens, roaming wild, dotted the property. Paul had moved on to another venture. I watched as their numbers dwindled. The local predators were likely enjoying a time of plenty. Every so often it would be observed that there were noticeably fewer of them until one day . . . there was one. And he was not well. Survival in this heartless world had made him crazy and mean. No one, especially not a 9 year old girl, was safe if they dared enter his territory. I discovered this pretty quickly after a failed attempt to go play in the barn. An angry squawking blur of rooster feathers and talons flew at me, driving me back to the house. I was no longer allowed to play in the barn; the Rooster owned it now along with the surrounding area. I was sad and afraid. I begged Paul to take care of the problem, but he was in no hurry. Finally (I imagine when it became clear that I would never stop begging) he agreed to kill the rooster if I would agree to bring it back to the house from wherever it landed. I agreed. He shot it at the very back of our 6 acre plot of land. No problem; I got baling wire from the barn, tromped determinedly back to where the little bastard lay – finally motionless, harmless. I had won. The barn was mine again. I looped the wire around his foot and drug him through the dirt all the way back to the house, where Mama and I plucked him, boiled him and ate him with dumplings.
The Big Sheep
His name was Buck. My brother Byron bought him to raise, and show for Future Farmers. Buck was the biggest Ovine I’ve ever seen and he struck fear in the barnyard. The sound of his bleat would not have been recognized as coming from his species. On hearing the sound, unaware of its source, one would think himself near to encountering something vicious, perhaps even demonic. It was a low, guttural “BUUUUUGGHHHH.” I trembled when I heard it. I remember watching Byron standing on one side of the pasture while Buck charged at him. Buck outweighed his lanky teenaged body by a significant amount, but he was unafraid. Byron planted his feet, squared his shoulders, stretched out his arms and clasped his hands together in front of him while he watched Buck gain speed coming toward him. As soon as he could reach Buck’s head, he leaned forward and put his clasped hands on it to stop him. Buck’s rear legs flew up in the air and Byron’s feet skidded back in the dirt a few inches. But the charge was over and Byron had shown himself to be the master in this relationship. I did not fare so well. Once, daring to attempt to cross the pasture I found myself trapped halfway to the barn by this beast. I don’t know what kept him from knocking me to the ground, I only remember standing there pulling at his wool, petting him, afraid to stop because every time I started to let go and walk away he would seem to start to charge again. I have no memory of how I escaped this situation; it’s kind of a terrified blur. My guess is that Byron noticed me missing and came to rescue me.
Perhaps I wasn’t intended for farm life.
The Vicious Dogs
By my teen years, the scary farm animals were not much of a problem anymore and I sought adventure beyond our property line. One day, while babysitting my niece and nephews, I decided to take them for a walk in the woods behind our property. Today this area is a fully developed neighborhood, but in those days it was still just “the woods.” It was beautiful, shady, filled with interesting trails and quiet adventure, one of my favorite places; and I thought the children would enjoy it as much as I. They padded along behind me, my small, innocent companions, trusting that their teenaged Auntie knew how to take care of them, and certainly knew better than to lead them into danger. It was a peaceful, beautiful day walking the trails, until . . . suddenly it wasn’t. As we walked up a trail curving up a steep hill, we heard a horrible sound coming from a distance but approaching very quickly – growling, barking, drooling, snarling, running beasts! A number of dogs (the terror of the moment erased the exact number from my mind) were dashing at us at top speed. With several small children to protect and nowhere to hide, I had no idea what to do and no time to think about it. Running would have been pointless at best; I could not have moved fast enough with all the children to get away from the pack, and running from a dog is a bad idea anyway. Only a few seconds elapsed from the time I was aware of the impending attack until we were all rescued – by a 28 pound screaming angel with golden curls. While my mind raced and screamed silently, and no doubt all the children were terrified, we were all suddenly stunned by an ear piercing screech and turned to see the youngest of our group – my niece, Kami – knees locked, bent forward at the waist, fists extended behind her, nose to nose and eyeball to eyeball with a dog at least twice her size, screaming into his face at the top of her tiny lungs. Time froze. I don’t know how long she screamed, but it was long enough. The dogs were all stopped in their tracks and turned and ran back the way they had come, silently except for the sound of their quickly retreating paws.