As a soil conservationist, one of my official job responsibilities is to walk farms and give farmers government-sanctioned advice on erosion issues. These days, most farmers have some sort of side by side, like a Gator or Mule, so walking is more just me holding on for dear life. I’m not sure if farmers are trying to impress me with their off-road driving skills or sling me into orbit, but a lot of times I would just rather walk.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like to put one-foot in front of another, repeatedly, in an ambulatory journey. My fondness for walking started in childhood when my parents, apparently unworried that serial killers might snatch me, let me walk home from school. It makes me feel old to think my parents let me walk home. A parent would get thrown in jail for that now. No cell phones and no adult supervision, it was just me and the open road, plus a couple of my friends and fellow walkers, hoping to find something neat on the roadside to examine, like a hubcab or, if we were lucky, roadkill.
But walking, even in friendly confines, isn’t without danger. Last year, a farmer and I were strolling through a pasture, when some little camouflage birds rocketed up from a clump of grass at our feet. “Well, I’ll be!” said the startled farmer, “I haven’t seen a covey of quail in ages.” We were both suddenly giddy with excitement, and as our heads caught up with and tracked the birds’ flight pattern–they went zooming into the woodline–the farmer noticed another strange sight: in the underbrush, a creature, which resembled a velociraptor, was pounding toward us.
Oh, to have been a cow grazing in that pasture, watching two full grown men flee for their lives. Weighed down by boots and a thick fescue sod, we were each trying to high-step and outrun the other and in so doing place the other closest to the enraged momma turkey. Had we had a moment to think, we would have known no self-respecting quail would be caught dead in a fescue pasture (which has about as much habitat for quail as a parking lot) and realized those little camouflage birds that streaked through the air into the woods were not quail, but baby turkeys. But, as it was, we were blind-sided by the momma turkey who, wings-flapping and cackling, pursued us halfway into the horizon.
If there is one thing I’m certain of, it’s charging mommas are to be feared and avoided. Not only have I been charged by a momma turkey, but I’ve been charged by momma cows twice. All three of those charging incidents were frightening. But the scariest charging I’ve ever witnessed was my own mom charging on my behalf. I cringe still thinking about it, as it pertains to my baseball career.
Basically, the highlight reel of my illustrious baseball career includes the line drive I caught by closing my eyes and sticking my glove straight up, my strikeout of the most far-sighted slugger in little league, and the pitch that plunked my knee. Strangely, the home-plate umpire thought my spin to try to avoid the pitch constituted a swing. He wouldn’t let me go to first base–not that I wanted to go to first base because my knee hurt. Mostly, I just wanted to flee the field because everybody was staring at me, and I may have been shedding a few tears while the third-base coach examined the stitch marks in my kneecap (that part of my memory is blurry, likely due to watery eyes).
As much as I’d like to forget the memory, what isn’t blurry is the sight of my mom (who is normally of a quiet and peaceful demeanor) charging through the dugout and onto the field to argue with the umpire. The crazy thing is my mom barely checked on my welfare; she just left me laying there with the third-base coach attending to my kneecap while she handled the threat. As she did her best Bobby Cox impersonation, I shed a few tears for the umpire.
17 thoughts on “Never Come Between A Momma and Her Offspring”
You have a knack. Serious observations (I like to call them ‘vignettes’) wrapped in a taco shell of insane (and delightful) humor. Was looking for something from you and pulling back on my “manage” list to see if I’d missed a gem. Delighted to find this post, then only nine minutes old. New thought: it’s in our blood. Folks think me goofy when I explain how I love the SMELL of new-plowed earth. Course nobody PLOWS anymore, and for the chemicals and diesel, stand a better chance of smelling six hours of sweat in your shirt than the earth. Still, there’s yesterdays hay waiting to be tedded…
Thanks! One day when we’re both world famous writers of high repute, I’m going use “serious vignettes wrapped in the taco shell of insane and delightful humor” as a back cover book blurb.
Love that story!
Your do have a knack for telling a great story; very enjoyable.
Seriously good article. You haven’t lived until a covey of quail take flight nearby. I haven’t experienced that in decades. Clean farming doesn’t give them a place to live. I wish I could super ‘like’ this article. Great writing.
Thanks. I occasionally still hear a few bobwhites calling while out at farms, but they are few and far between, just not enough habitat. Meanwhile, the turkey population has exploded in this area. Sometimes I’ve seen flocks of forty or more.
What a fun story! I also loved walking home from school. I remember when an opossum got killed and it was a real highlight each day to see it decompose more and more. Of course, at my ranch, there are so many vultures that nothing gets to decompose.
Yep, you could learn as much about nature walking home from school as you could at school. Thanks!
I only began to understand the function of mothering when we got Muscovy ducks. I first thought Muscovy as in Moscow, and they reminded me of such terrifying women as I met in the Eastern Blok, so I assumed that’s where they originated. Nope, they’re from South America, apparently, and I was thinking it all wrong for about 2 years. In any case, GREAT mamas, if you’re in the market for ducks.
By great I mean terrifying, btw.
That’s funny. I’ve been bit by ducks several times. It was surprisingly painful for animal with no teeth.
I’ll admit I’ve been there. When Darling Daughter was about 9, an obnoxious little boy was picking on her. I wanted to skin him alive. I didn’t, of course, and now console myself with a strong belief that he is probably still living off his parents and playing video games in their basement. Daughter, on the other hand, is a fully functioning, independent adult, even if a bit scarred by his nastiness. She persisted!
I would have wanted to skin him alive, too, but you’re right–he’s probably still picking on people while play fortnight in the basement.
Brilliant! Brought back memories of sleeves rolled up defending my chicks. Noisy quails and flapling geese.