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June 17, 2024

Rats in the Barn

By Richard D. Houff

Rats in The Barn

The family farms were dying out
as fast as you could say, Jack Robinson.

Our farm being no exception,
an 80-acre rock-infested tragedy
is what Bud called it.

He grew up with my mom
on this very spot of land.

What little corn we cultivated was stored
in a single silo next to the barn.

It was important to protect the feed
from the rats that lived under the barn.

Bud was an expert shot
and loved killing them.

He took great pride in showing us
the art of rodent disposal, so we could
take over when we were older.

The whole ordeal consisted of running
just enough water down a burrowing hole
on one side of the barn, and then shooting
them as they came out the other side.

You didn't want to overfill, because too many
rats would pop-out for the .22 caliber pump
to handle -- no survivors was the general rule.

I cannot remember how many shells
a person could feed into the gun, it had
to be a substantial number; the bullet feed
ran the length of the barrel.

By the end of the day, he had shot well over
two hundred, and didn't come close to putting
a dent in the population.

This all took place the day after Buddy Holly
died; about 30 or 40 miles west from where we
were standing, and it didn't ease the pain.

I was eight years old, and loved listening to him
on the radio before breakfast.

Later that night, I cried and went to sleep
next to the wood burning stove.

The night was cold, and a cruel wind
blew in from the north.

Article © Richard D. Houff. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-11-22
Image(s) are public domain.
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