Monday, April 15, 2013

Amanuensis Monday--Elsie Crocker’s Manuscript, Part 14: Animal Tales

To read this project from the beginning, click here.

Well, here we are again. It has been longer than I care to admit since I have posted one of these “weekly” transcriptions, so it’s about time I resumed the habit. This installment tells a few animal tales in the lives of the Underwoods.

One morning Dad came in to the house, Mother could see he was upset about something. “What’s the matter” she asked him. Dad told her that the mother pig refused to let one pig nurse. If this goes on we will lose the little one. I over heard what was going on and volunteered. Dad informed us this little pig had to be kept warm and fed often. Mom agreed to let me take him, if I kept him on a blanket back of the stove. I had to keep him in the kitchen.

I was so happy to have a little pig for a pet. I know how to feed him as had helped feed some calves. I’d get a clean cloth and double it up like a nipple. Put it in a pail of warm milk. Tightly holding on to the nipple, the little pig took to this right away. He was hungry.

Later on I used two fingers held in the pail of warm milk he would suck on my fingers. He seemed to like it. He was hungry all the time. I had a lot of fun trying to keep this little pig in the kitchen and on his blanket back of the stove.

He was pink skin with light short hair. I spent my days chasing this little pig. Mother would say “Get that pig out of here”. So I would run and try to caught him. He was so chubby and fat, I would put both hands around his stomach and try and hold him. Sometimes my hands would slip, I’d get ahold of his leg. He’d squeal something awful. Mother would yell “You’ll break his leg. I don’t think I held him that tight. I would let him go and Mom would yell “Will you get him out of here.” I was trying my best, but pig’s hair grows from the front to the back, making it hard to hang on to.

Well the little pig grewup, he could eat by hisselve now. He got a long with the other pigs. I missed him I wondered did he miss me? I really think Mom missed him too.

I think every child should have a pig for a pet. I’m lucky to have had one, it a great experience.

A magpie is a large bird, very much like a big crow but much uglier. Someone told me if I could catch a magpie and split its tongue it would talk to me. It had to be a baby bird.

Maraget Church my girl friend and I was at the creek, at the far end of our farm. Above us was a big willow tree. There’s nest, after watching for a while, the mom and dad bird appeared. Oh, it’s a magpie couple. We could see the baby birds reaching to be fed. Margaret urged me to climb the tree. So I did. I stole a little bird, we took it home, right into the house. Mom and Margaret’s mom was there. Everything broke loose when my mom saw that bird.

I had never seen Mom mad like that before. She asked what we were thinking about to steal a baby bird from it’s mother. Go back and take that bird to it’s home this minute But Mother we wanted someone to cut it’s tongue so it would talk to us. My mother asked “Who ever put that idea in to your heads? I never heard of such a thing.”

So Margaret and my brother and I took that bird home. The birds parents seemed to be glad it was back. I never found out if we had split it’s tongue if it would talk. The was the first time and last time I ever stold a bird.

Living on a farm the children always had chores to do At least helping with them. Bringing in the wood two kinds kindling, wood for the range and heater. Horses beded doun, and fed, cow to milk, chickens to feed and to gather the eggs, etc.
Our family album has a very decided shortage of pictures from the time covered in Elsie’s manuscript. This is a picture of my grandma, Elsie’s sister Aileen, holding a chicken a decade or so after the incident Elsie describes below.

I used to like to feed the chickens and help gather the eggs. Sometimes one of the hens would decided to sit on some eggs. My brother Bill would, lift the hen up and I would reach under her and get the eggs. Later this hen would be put on a special nest with a dozen eggs to hatch. In a short time we would have some baby chickens. They are so cute. When you hold them in your hand you can feel their little heart beat thru the soft doun feathers.

Never knowing Dad had bought a new rooster, I started to feed the chickens. This rooster knocked me doun and started clawing my face. My dad jumed the fence, grabbed the rooster twisted his head off and threw it over the fence. Mother was upset spending money for the rooster and not having it one day. Dad told her if she had seen that rooster clawing at my face she would have done the same thing. I’m glad my dad was there, I still have the scare right close to my eye.

I remember when Elsie was still alive she showed me the above-mentioned scar. It was faint, so faint that I never would have noticed it if she had not pointed it out to me, but it was visible. I think that this story is the reason that I am wary of chickens to this day.

To continue with the next installment of Elsie's manuscript, click here

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