Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Two Less Gophers

He only looks cute.
See that hole? Not good.
Warning: Many, many gophers were mortally wounded seriously harmed  in the telling of this story.

I want to preface this story with the fact that gophers, on a ranch, are bad news. They dig holes that unsuspecting horses and livestock stumble into, breaking legs and other appendages. They eat bushels of valuable grain. And they make dozens more little gophers. Who grow up to cause even more trouble. Thus costing ranchers hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Gophers may look cute, with their little dark eyes. Their fur and their ‘chirp’. And their I.Q. which, if it went up a point or two, would reach the level of ‘imbecile’. But they are very bad news. Think of them as the little rats of the ranching world.
On to my story . . .
On a ranch, the use of firearms is a necessary skill. Coyotes, wolves, cougars and other predators can, and do, threaten the herd.
Marksmanship is also a necessity. If you’re going to use a gun, better hit only what you are aiming at. There can be no crazed waving of a gun. No popping off shots indiscriminately.
Let’s put it this way. ‘Bullets leave an indelible mark.’
So we kids on the ranch were taught the proper use of guns. And, during the summer, had daily target practice.
Our targets? The thousands of gophers that infested the prairie hills. We were actually performing two feats in one. Perfecting our aim and ridding the ranch of its number one pests.
It was my turn to be trained in the all-important use of the ‘22’.
Husby loaded me and my trusty little gun into the cab of the pickup and headed out to the nearest pasture. A piece of land heavily pock-marked with the mounds dug by our little, furry vermin. For several minutes, things went well. Gophers would pop out of their burrows. I would aim and fire.
My record, though not stellar, was approaching good.
He moved the truck slowly across the uneven ground. A gopher popped up. And another directly behind it.
I aimed carefully and squeezed the trigger.
Both went down.
I blinked. Two?
We drove closer and I got out. Yep. Two. The second had been blindsided because of the first. As a rancher’s daughter, it was one of my finest moments.
Okay. It doesn’t match the contributions made, daily, by the people fighting disease in every corner of the globe. Or those who constantly put their lives on the line in our defense.
Still, it’s a record that hasn’t been topped by anyone from our ranch.
For a country girl, a real contribution.

Every Wednesday, Delores of Under the Porch Light issues a six-word challenge.
This week's words?
marksmanstellar, blindsidedindeliblecrazed and imbecile.
I'm sure she didn't foresee my using them to describe one of the less-desirable facts of life on a ranch.
Sorry, Delores! :)
Hurry over and see what her other followers have created!

22 comments:

  1. It's a fact of life, even if it makes my heart hurt, and somebody has to do it, so - well done, Diane. When that apocalypse that Pearl often talks about comes, I want to be on your team :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd be welcome, Jenny! :) Us and our trusty 22!

      Delete
  2. Excellent use of Delores' words. Gophers have to go, no doubt about it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hear you about the ranch pests! And like you, I learned to use a .22 pretty young. These days I don't like being around guns, but as a city dweller that kind of makes sense. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. We've pretty much shelved our guns as well! :)

      Delete
  4. Stellar marksmanship! A rodent by any other name?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Life is different on a ranch, I'm reminded. Of course, we had moles in our yard....didn't shoot them...but....yeah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never had much of a problem with moles. I guess they can make a mess of your yard, though . . .

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, Delores! Not as fun as usual, but true. Too true!

      Delete
  7. OH my goodness, Diane! I didn't even notice the word prompts, until I saw them listed at the end! I was that captivated by your tale!
    Our property outside of Calgary where I grew up was gopher ridden as well. Our cats patrolled and became so fat and full of gophers, we never even needed to provide them with a meal in summer.
    I hated gophers, because they ruined many a good uphill for a canter, for fear of a horse tripping and falling in one of their holes!
    Bravo for this use of the word challenge from Delores!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We definitely kindred spirits, Susan! :)

      Delete
  8. Normally I cringe over stories of shooting critters since I'm a rodent fan--- but you actually had me laughing on this one. Funny as always, Diane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a rodent fan as well, Marcia! So cute and furry. Until I lost a horse to one of their stupid burrows. Sigh. Then it a was no-holds barred them or me!

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  9. This is tonight's memory...my hubby and his brother bought a 22, since their father was alcoholic guns and hunting wasn't in their vocabulary. My husband passes out at the sight of blood so he has NEVER been hunting. I on the other hand had a father and 4 brothers who lived for hunting. Being the only girl I learned boy things (I'm a clown at fixing my hair and God Lord on the makeup). Back to my story my BIL wanted my hubby to teach him how to shoot it. They put a full bottle of water on a fence post a good ways away. I sat in the kitchen with the SIL and heard bullet after bullet coming from the gun so I walked outside and asked "How ya doing"? To which they both said at the exact same time something is wrong with that gun! I said let's take a look, now my husband has seen me shoot a few times and back in the day I was pretty good. I picked up the 22 and inspected it, all was fine. I looked at the water filled to the brim (20 oz. throw a way). I aimed the gun at the bottle, fired one shot and blew the cap off of the bottle (and never spilled a drop). I looked at their chins on the ground and nonchalantly said "Maybe you were just thirsty" sat the gun down and went back inside to see my SIL staring at me wide-eyed(she had been watching at the window). How did you just do that she exclaimed. My answer...I have no clue, just the luckiest shot ever but if you tell them that I'll deny it to the end!!!! They still talk about the day I handed out shooting lessons!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bwahahaha! I love it! I'll never tell . . .

      Delete
  10. Excellent use of this week's words!
    I've only ever seen gophers on TV but I can see the problems they cause ranchers, farmers and the owners of golf courses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, River! I've never golfed, but I've heard about their troubles. I can testify to the aggravation they cause us ranchers, though!

      Delete
  11. You did a wonderful job with the words; of course, you always do. I can just envision your shinning moment. Being a farm girl my self; I can totally relate to this one. Those Gopher's are a hugs problem on a ranch or any place for that matter.
    Blessings on for this one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, LeAnn! We farm girls have to stick together! :)

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