Being employed by a company who excels at micro managing, every day is rigorously scheduled. You may unchain yourself from your desk at 10:15 to piss and smoke and by 10:12, my co-workers and I get quite antsy, anticipating the fifteen minutes of freedom so close on the horizon. I imagine myself as Andy Dufrane, queerly giddy, watching my comrades drink beer in the warm, spring sun, as we make our way to the corporate patio, feeling, if just for a few minutes, free.
This morning during our break, oddly, there were a group of young boys, (around 8 or 9 years of age) crowded on the shores of the office park pond, hurling rocks onto the weak, thin, cover of ice. We struck up a conversation about why those boys were doing that? Is that fun? I thought about the kids in my life and how Young Son will sit out in the woods in our back yard and slap a tree stump with a stick for hours on end, so yes, I can see how tossing rocks onto thin ice for hours at a time can be amusing.
This got me reminiscing my own childhood, growing up in the country and the weird shit we used to do. We lived on about 50 acres of farmland which consisted of pastures, woods and about a dozen dilapidated barns. My parents were not farmers, but we did lease the land out to a cattle rancher in town who had exceeded his own land, so there was plenty of livestock to chase and harass. Mr. Murray (the rancher) was really nice. Thanks to himself and his farm hands, I learned how to cuss like a pro, as well as dip by age seven.
My brother and sister and I are very lucky people. Not only because growing up on the farm kind of rules the school for little kids, not to mention the added bonus that we were NOT farmers, so there were no ass busting chores we had to embark on at day break, but, because we are alive today. There were so many “games” we played that could have killed us. The only casualties to ever happen were some broken arms and a few stitches here and there.
We had a hay stack (can I get a HELL YEAH!?), where we would pile the bales on top of each other until we could get to the rafters. We then would un-string a hay bale and use the STRING to tie to the rafters to swing across the barn. SAFETY FIRST! Amazingly enough, only one time did I bust the string while in mid-swing. It wasn’t too damaging to me, as there was a big pile of hay to break my fall, though I did find the needle in the haystack that day. It was sticking out of my butt crack.
Way back in the cow pasture, near our property line, there were a bunch of stone foundations from, what we referred to as “old pioneer homes” and barns. Out of all of the structures, only one was still in tact; a small shed that had a spigot from a natural spring that flowed into a rusty old tub, so there was always “fresh water”. We played “house” back there all of the time and DRANK from the rusty old tub. God made rust, too.
One game we liked to play was “Make the cows mad!” This consisted of us grabbing some sticks and rocks, the casing the pasture until we found where the herd was hanging out. Then we, along with the dogs would run up screaming, throwing rocks and slapping them with sticks to get them to “stampede”. We were obsessed with cowboys, so we did this to try to lasso them and play “rodeo”. None of us were ever really close to being trampled, though if it had happened, we would have totally deserved it. We also liked to run through the feed troughs when they were eating. We were dicks.
One game that was always a pleasure was finding petrified cow patties to throw at one another. Good times.
We had quite the groundhog problem on this farm. Every spring, the farmhands would drive up to the fence around our pasture with long-range rifles and cases of beer. They would sit there for hours looking through the scopes on the rifles, waiting for a groundhog to pop up, then they would shoot it. I LOVED hanging with them when they did this,(hence the cussing and dipping) and I shot my first animal, (a vile groundhog) with help from Roy (the main hand) at age 8. After they would shoot a few, they would drive into the pasture to pickup the carcasses and fill in the holes.
Ground hog holes are dangerous for livestock. Livestock animals are stupid. They don’t watch where they are going and fall into the holes, breaking their legs and dying. Livestock animals are also incredibly expensive, so one dying in the night due to a fall, was a huge net loss, therefore there needed to be as much damage control as possible to prevent these situations.
I also fucking hated the damn things. They were vicious assholes that would chase you and if they got a hold of you, very likely might maul you to death. Luckily we had Beauregard J Puppy dog, defender of small children and ground hog assassinator, who saved me from numerous ground hog maulings. Beau was a bad ass and quite the killer. Unfortunately, we had a couple of other dogs and cats that perished at the fangs of the dreaded groundhog. One puppy, Bouncer, got his jaw ripped off by one of these nefarious creatures. He limped up to the porch and the jaw bone was dangling from his face by a thread of flesh. My mom had to hold his torn jaw to his face, tie a bandage around his head, and drive him to the large animal vet down the road to have him put down.
The day I shot that damn ground hog, I did it for Bouncer, man.
One day, my sister and I were walking through the pastures, looking for some cows to bully and we found a rotting ground hog carcass. After inspecting it thoroughly, WITH OUR BARE HANDS, we yanked its jaw out, then started unhinging its teeth to fashion a tooth necklace for Bouncers Revenge. I don’t recall ever seeing a movie where someone did this, so I think this is proof that savagery and revenge are inherent human emotions. We then headed inside to have dinner and I doubt we washed our hands, though Mom did not let us keep the groundhog teeth to make our necklaces. Le Sigh.
My friend J grew up on a farm, too. We like to swap stories on whose upbringing was grosser and who had the least supervision. I think I beat her on the supervision part, as my parents NEVER knew what we were up to, but, she beat me on gross with this doozy. Her daddy was a pig farmer and in the spring they had to slaughter. After the pigs were slaughtered, gutted and parted, they would toss the remains behind the barn before the disposed correctly of them. Well, the remains became bouncy and J and her siblings liked to jump on them, for they were quite springy and soft. Her parents hated this and finally bargained with the kids that if they bought them a trampoline, the kids would stop jumping on the pig remains. J, to this day swears it was more fun to jump on the dead pigs, but never did again out of respect for her parents.
So, there you have it. Kids do really dumb and gross things to entertain themselves. I wish I was back there on that farm, sitting on the fence, contemplating my next move, rather than tied to this desk, at this soul sucking job. My only pleasure was remembering all of this for you all.