We were moving a bunch of boxes around, preparatory to having some painting done, when I came across a box of old records. It has been necessary over the years to do an occasional cull of my record collection and whenever they turn up, it behooves me to have a look at my past.
In a boxed-set of Donovan's “Gift from a Flower to a Garden”, a truly gag-worthy pile of hippie tripe, I found this old 45.
The memories came flooding back, as memories do, and I figured it was absolutely imperative that I immortalize the flipside for posterity, as a tribute to the ingenuity of our rural folk. (I couldn't do the the Wabash Cannonball as the trial software I downloaded for the purpose limited me to a single track. It is, however, excellent software and I have paid for it, but finding all my login information seemed way too cumbersome. It's called LPRecorder/LPRipper and works great.)
The record was a gift from a friend from way back who grew up, to the extent that any of us grew up, in Nicollet, Minnesota.
In Nicollet, by all accounts, they like to kill things. This is the story of the Eden Valley Fox Hunt which concerned the winter recreational event of a neighbouring county. Rather than donning the pinks and pursuing the hounds in a display of spiffing horsemanship and jolly good sportsmanship, these yahoos wait 'til winter so's they can release a panic-stricken fox on the stark white snowscape. They give it a headstart, then proceed to run it down with snowmobiles.
As I recall, the final verse of the tune goes something like:
"Did you ever wonder how it feels,
Bein' chased by twenty snowmobiles,
Dragged underneath the bogie wheels,
And bleedin' all over the snow? Oh! Bleedin' all over the snow!"
Whether it was the isolation or the inbreeding, the sense of fun in the town was exquisite. One of the local fellows had a trapline and dogteam, in keeping with their desperate grip on a disappearing pastoral culture.
Feeding a team of sled-dogs is never an easy prospect, and when finances get tight, as they will in a small town at any given moment, one needs to get creative. In a mixed farming neighbourhood, there are always, shall we say, disposal issues. Most especially in winter when, should old Bessie, the prize milker, unceremoniously croak, it's damn sure tough to dig a hole in the frozen ground to give her the dignified burial she so richly deserves for all her service to the family.
No, best you should call up buddy down the road who will respectfully load the deceased into his half-ton and cart her away to a finer place. Whereupon Bessie, now frozen stiffer than a wedding prick (a phrase I picked up from Wayne) is chainsawed into manageable chunks and flung over the chainlink to the waiting huskies.
So, what if your daughter's beloved Shetland pony, purchased on the cheap due to rather high mileage, becomes sad, lame, and incontinent? The twenty-two calibre out behind the barn doesn't seem to be quite the solution, so you call up buddy down the road.
Lies having been told, the pony is loaded into the reeking half-ton. "You'll give Shelby a good home, won't you?" pleads the tot. Uncomfortable and not being entirely accustomed to live livestock, the boys assure the little girl that all will be well, slam the tailgate and get back to the homestead to give the problem a bit of thought.
Now, this being a beloved family pet, it seems only fitting to do the job with a sense of style. After some cogitation, consultation, and beer, one of the boys comes up with an idea, as well as a small, eight-point rack. These antlers, having been removed more or less intact from the skull of a none-too-large buck, turned out to be the perfect fit for old Shelby. A little baling wire to secure them in place and the hunt is on.
Now, I've seen the shaky Super-Eight film of this debacle, and it truly is a wonder. Sad, really. In a kind of hilariously surreal way. They placed the bewildered little nag in a woodland clearing and she looked around curiously, antlers askew, as the boys skulked into position.
They took up a tactical pincer with the wily beast at the focus of the crossfire. On some inaudible signal, Super-Eight being very primitive visual technology, they all opened fire.
Shelby took it well and dropped unceremoniously where she stood. Typical trophy still-shots were taken to immortalize the moment; grinning buffoons astride the majestic eight-point shetland buck. I don't have any pictures or films, but if I can figure out how to get an MP3 of the foxhunt up here, it shall be done. Further bulletins as events warrant.
Disclaimer: Management neither supports nor condones cruelty of any sort. The above is strictly a matter of historical record. So there.