Friday, September 19, 2014

My Ol' Flea Catcher

 If my ol’ Flea Catcher could talk, it’d have a few tales to tell. We’ve had a few adventures through the years, indeed we have. I for one remember the time we got swept out of the saddle by a huge old gnarly Locust tree. We were riding a good sized, stocking legged mule, looking to find a hole in it. We had already been through the brush, over, up and down the creek, and through the brambles. Thinking we were done, we’d just about decided to head back to the barn. It was at this time, I spotted a half grown Jersey calf in the brush, down an incline a little piece. “Hmmmmm...” I said. “I just wonder if this molly has ever seen a calf. Well, if she hasn’t, it’s about time she did.” So, off we went down the slope to look at the calf. Winding our way carefully through the brush, and the various thickets of thorns that invariably grow here in the Ozarks, we crept up on our quarry. My little mule, which by the way, at 16.2 hands, wasn’t so little, must not have seen the dreaded thing. Suddenly, she stopped. She had spied the only thing in the woods capable of sending fear shuddering and racking throughout her entire body. She stood stock still, unable to believe her eyes. Here, in broad daylight, was a specimen of the vicious, ravenous, mule eating Jersey calf. Trembling with fear, knowing she was a goner, she was unable to move as the horrid thing approached her.
Meanwhile, chewing his cud in a clearing in the woods, a young Jersey steer looked up to see a most curious site. What did he see, but a man on top of a HUGE funny looking cow. He’d never, in his short existence, seen such a sight. He could not help himself. His curiosity got the better of him. He just HAD to get a closer look at this crazy specimen. The human, he noticed was attached to the cow with weird lines coming from the cow’s mouth. Well, this was more than his curiosity could handle. He for sure had to check them out now. He walked slowly towards them, taking his time so as to take in this spectacle fully. When he got nose to nose with the incredible pair, he snorted. Why, you’d thought he’s set off a bomb under this strange cow’s feet. She must have jumped three feet in the air, swapping ends in the process. Well, this was more than he could handle. He took off in the opposite direction, bawling for his mom.
Miss Mule and I, at the same time were in mid acrobatics. I mean, I knew mules were nimble, agile even, but THIS molly should have tried out for the Olympics. She was jumping and spinning and turning inside out. She’d have made Bruce Jenner look like Barney Fife. We hit the ground going 183 mph, or it seemed that way at least. She took the bit in her teeth and held on for all she was worth. I meanwhile, calm and cool as a cucumber, am brushing aside the various limbs and small trees that get in her way as she tears through the woods back towards the road. In the midst of my calm and cool brushing, I failed to notice that ONE of the trees she was attempting to run over was about 20 feet around. Well, I’m here to tell you, I’ve never seen a mule climb a tree. I didn’t “see” this one either. I still too busy hanging on to my hat, my butt and other various and sundry parts these demon trees were busy trying to rip from my person. She MUST have climbed it, and then deciding it wasn’t safe up there either, JUMPED back down, decided to climb it again, changed her mind again, then took off for the road again. This was about the time that our wild ride ended. The tree, tired of all this foolishness, reached out and grabbed me by the belt buckle and with no remorse, dashed me to the ground. Now, I’m no little fella, and when I hit the ground, rare though it is, I hit with a resounding “THUMP”. This was no exception. I landed on the north end of this south bound Moose. This only served to compound the humility of the situation.  My ol’ Flea Catcher, having better sense than I, had quit his post the FIRST time Miss Mule had tried to climb the tree.
Speaking of Miss Mule, she had run about a hundred yards, jumped a six foot barbed wire fence, and then run a few more feet. It was at this time, that she realized two things. First and foremost, she had lost that demon spawned mule eating Jersey. Whew, what a relief. Now she could stop and take stock of her hurts, which, as fortune would have it, were none. Second, she noticed her human was no longer on her back. Now, where could he have gone to? Didn’t he know there were dangerous beasts lurking in these woods? Oh, well, she’d just have to go and find him. Rescue him if you will, from the dangers of the forest.
She hadn’t gone more than a few dozen steps when she noticed something rustling in the brush ahead of her. Was it another killer Jersey? No, as luck would have it, it was her human. Here he came, walking slowly, and looking like he’d tried to French kiss a bob –cat in a phone booth. Grumbling and swearing under his breath, he patted her neck and swung aboard.

     Well, one thing for sure. I’ve had rougher rides, but I’ll be danged if I can recall any at this particular point in time. Miss Mule and I made it back to the barn, in one piece even. We rode many more times too.  Thankfully though, my ol’ Flea Catcher and I haven’t had one THAT rough since. 

If you enjoyed this tale of the ne'er do well mule, check out the rest of our stories in our book "Cinch Marks" available on our website: