Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

The Best Decision

As anyone who keeps livestock, and owns rural property knows, fencing is an ongoing project. Even if a pasture hasn’t been used for a season, and was in good repair at last inspection, it still had to be checked again. A tree could fall on the fence, deer could jump into electric wire, and take it down or break it. Sometimes, there’s no reason or explanation. The fence is just broken. Every so often, I would go for a walk, check the wire and insulators, and look for breaks and shorts, or other problems.
Our property runs about half a mile back, alongside a fairly quiet, dirt road. I had walked most of the fencelines that day, but still had the stretch that ran along that dirt road, left to check. Small bucket of supplies in one hand, hammer in the other, I set off. With a bit of luck, I would be done before dark.
Dark and I, don’t get along all that well together, when I have a hammer in my hand. I’ve pushed to finish projects after the light had become poor, too many times in the past. My poor left thumb, actually physically aches, whenever I pick up a hammer. Nevermind picking one up. If I as much as glance at a claw hammer, my thumb begins to remind me of my misses. By misses, I’m referring to missing the nail, but not my poor thumb. The ache of reminder, isn’t the only way my thumb tells me to put the hammer down. There’s also a rather lovely line, running straight up the middle of the nail. Yup, I permanently damaged the poor thing. It’s always a bit worse, when hands are really cold. Numb fingers don’t work well, but warm hands in mittens are unwieldy. Hence, mitts come off, cold fingers hold the nail in place, and the rest is inevitable. Fortunately, for my sissy of a thumb, this was still summer, and I intended to be done, before the ability to properly see was reduced too much. With a little bit of luck, there would be no further torment self-inflicted.
Steadily and surely working my way along the fenceline, I was just past the field entrance, when I had the oddest sense that I was being watched. Straightening up, I took a bit of a look around. No one and nothing came to view. No one was on the dirt road. No horses were in that pasture, and when I looked back towards the yard, I could see the hubby, still busy working on the semi, much like every evening. That was the thing about gravel trucks and trailers, rarely did you get to work hard all day, then come home and park. Nope, work hard all day, then work on them for hours afterwards.
With no reason for the odd sensation, presenting itself, I carried on with the fence repairs. Yet it was a good, little while, before I could shake the feeling of being watched. Finally reaching the furthest corner, completing the task just as dusk was falling, I was pleased to have the job done. My thumb was greatly relieved to have survived, without suffering a single blow, as well.
Instead of walking back through the pasture, I crawled under the fence, (yes, I could still do such things back then, and quite easily), walked through the ditch, up onto the dirt road. The walk back would be a whole lot quicker, on the bare road, than walking the half mile back through long, thick grass. Besides that, there’s always the trip factor to consider, as I’ve been known to be a bit of a klutz.
Setting off at a brisk walk, I was making excellent time, when through the failing, evening night, I could just make out something in the ditch. There was something, something rather large, down by the culvert of the field entrance.
“What in the world is that?” I muttered under my breath, as I tried to make out what it could be. Was it a really big cat, thick, squatty dog? I simply couldn’t tell.
As I continued to walk, the dark shape moved out of the ditch, up onto the middle of the road. I slowed down. I could see what it was now … a skunk. The darn biggest skunk, I’d ever seen, and it’s full attention was on me, which was fair, as my full attention was on it, too.
To my surprise and slight concern, it didn’t appear to have any intention, of getting out of my way. Instead, it grew in size, raised that tail in warning, and stamped its feet most threateningly.
I stopped walking. It seemed the prudent thing to do, given the situation. When the darn creature began slowly moving forward, stamping and shaking that darn tail in warning, I came to the most logical decision. I would go into the field, and bypass the miserable beast, thus removing myself, from the situation.
The skunk had other ideas. It mirrored my movements, leaving the road to make its way through the ditch into the field, then started towards me!
Quick as could be, I scooted back under the fence, and went back onto the road. If I was going to be chased by a skunk, I preferred running on a somewhat regular surface, over one where the trip factor was far higher, like the pasture.
Well, as it turned out, that darn skunk, followed me a ways back as night slowly descended upon us. In fact, it followed me almost to the train tracks that run behind our property. Then it stood intently watching as I went through the ditch, under the fence, and headed east along the back fenceline. To my great relief, it didn’t follow. Until it got too dark to see, I kept an eye on the territorial, little beast, and it remained on the dirt road. Keeping even with me, until it reached the field entrance.
Needless to say, it was pitch black by the time I reached the back yard, and yes, I did trip in the long grass, once or ten times.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB