Thursday, September 16, 2004

Chickey in the Straw

Another Fallon Story...

When we first moved to Fallon, we lived out on the ranch of some friends of mom's, Maryann and Dave. She had gone to junior high school with Maryann and they've been friends ever since. The ranch was 140 acres, mostly alfalfa, about 8 miles northwest of town.

Anyway, one thing the feed stores out in the rural (and not so rural) areas used to do is sell you a bag of feed and 50 fertilized eggs which you could then incubate, hatch and raise chickens to then sell and make a little dough.

So Maryann and Dave managed to cull 12 grown chickens from the bunch. They were free range, meaning Dave never got around to throwing up some chickenwire to keep them contained. It was kind of cute having all those chickens wandering about.

There was one problem. You know the old saying, "Slick as chickenshit." Well, there's a reason for that saying. And they crapped everywhere. Everywhere.

One day Maryann came out the back door, planted her foot on the patio and *schwoop* fell flat on 'er arse.

That was it. "Dave," she said, "I want these chicken butchered and frozen. I can't stand this no more." Or somesuch.

So Dave gathered up one of the illegals (they had a not-nicer name for them then, of course) living on the ranch and they spent the afternoon gathering up the 12 chickens. To keep them from running off, they used a narrow rope to tie each one down, about two feet apart, by its right leg, like a little chain gang.

Well, the two of them got two chickens butchered and plucked and ready for freezing, but it's a time consuming task and it was quite late by the time they did all that. They decided that rather than spend half the day rounding the others back up they'd just leave the chain gang where it was and finish them off in the AM.

Sun comes up and out they go. The rope is still there. Every two feet there's a knot, and in each of the ten knots, there's a yellow chicken leg.

But that's all. No chickens. Just ten little legs stuck in the knots, lying there on the ground. Dave was about to curse the coyotes, but the rope was just outside the house and they hadn't heard a thing in the night. So he looked around and what did he see?

Chickens. One-legged chickens, hopping about the yard, like everything was normal and they'd never had a second leg. He called Maryann out, who couldn't believe her eyes either.

She felt very guilty, and very bad for the one-legged chickens, so much so that she couldn't bear to let Dave butcher any more of them.

And that's how the Hernandez Ranch got a whole flock of One-Legged Chickens.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Few Footy Fans 'Round Here

Well, the NFL season is underway next week, which I'm happy about. Love that hard hitting football, love those Raiders.

But right now, and for the rest of September, are the playoffs that these days are a little closer to my heart, the Australian Football League Finals.

I fell in love with this intense variant a few years ago, catching the weekly coverage on Fox Sports World. I couldn't believe that this sport, for which I'd had a distant fascination, was actually being shown regularly right here in the ol' U. S. of A.

I instantly fell in love with the Collingwood Magpies without knowing why. Then Zen was kind enough to inform me that the Collingwood is the most vilified and hated club in the AFL, that their barrackers are known to be toothless, inbred white trash, and that the barrackers of every other club would almost rather see the Collingwood lose than their own club win... almost.

In other words, the perfect choice for a Raiders fan.

It was a spiritual connection.

So, why am I blathering this all here? Because I'm in King Freakin' City, California. If I walked up to someone here in town and said, "Hey, how 'bout them 'Pies?" I'd get nothing back but directions to the nearest bakery. It's sometimes a little tough to be a fan of a sport that's played several thousand miles away, with that day's games done before it's, erm, that day. Nobody over here cares.

Oh well, I do. My 'Pies were the Grand Final losers the last two years, but this year, due to injuries and a lack of the previous seasons' over achieving, they settled into the bottom 8 and never really threatened to break out.

Regardless, I love the sport, and will watch every game broadcast to the very end. I don't know who I'd like to see win this year around, since my club is out. Perhaps Port Adelaide, just to see them shed the "choker" label. Perhaps Geelong, such a surprise fourth after last season.

Truthfully, for me, it's anyone but the Lions. It would be nice to see a non-subsidized team win for once. Sour grapes? You bet.

Wish there was someone local for whom I could buy a drink and regale with all my complaints and whinings.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Upon a Mountain of Sand

Sometimes I miss Fallon, Nevada. I did a significant portion of my growing up in the little desert-locked hamlet.

I was seven when we moved there, my mother, my younger brother, and I. Dad had finally taken off and left us flat, which was, in reality, better for all four of us at the time.

Anyhow, we spent the first three years living out on an alfalfa ranch owned by a friend of mom's, then moved into town for four years before making our way back to California.

Being so far out in the boonies, and in so small a community, severely limited our options for outings and field trips with the class. Every year we went to Fort Churchill, a tiny frontier Army outpost that was, in all, pretty boring for a kid. There is a power plant nearby, which always sort of rescued the day. I've never had the chance to go back as an adult. I'm sure I would appreciate it far more today.

We also visited the Fairview/Dixie Valley Earthquake Fault. That was also fascinating for about 15 minutes. Striation: very cool. The Southern side of the area being 4 or 5 feet higher than the northern: very cool. The long drive out and back on the same school bus you rode into town on for 40 minutes that morning: very not cool.

The cool field trip, which usually ended our year, was out to Sand Mountain. Two miles long, a mile wide, six hundred feet high, nothing but sand.

The climb was excruciating for our still-growing legs. It's like walking on the beach, but at 20 to 45 degree angles, trudging through the sand to the narrow, dusty summit. Here and there were three and four wheelers cutting grooves in the face of the mountain, only to have the wind cover their tracks while they were still fresh. Mostly there were just hikers, walking along the ridge and up and down the face of the giant dune.

Sand Mountain was one of the challenges of my childhood that was somewhat daunting while never hopeless. Brushing the dirt out of our eyes and putting up with the grit getting stuck in our teeth and nose and hair, we'd make one trip to the summit, then run, dive, and roll down the face until there was more sand in our briefs than on the mountain. Standing up there was like being on top of the world, looking down on the little ants buzzing around the base of the dune just starting their climb. For one day, we were adventurers, conquering heroes, courageous explorers.

There were some things about being a kid in Fallon that bit rocks, but there were some things you can't find nearly anywhere else.

I kind of miss that place.


It's about me, dummy!!!


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