Wednesday, July 21, 2010


DAYS 10 & 11
By © Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: text & photo.  Murphy photo courtesy Mouton family
July 17, 2008, Thursday.  I am writing away, and about 2 p.m. Joe knocks on the door and yells out, “Jehovah’s Witnesses!”  Have just finished the first act, 49 pages of Red Dog Dirt revision.  Joe and I kibbitz as always.  We find the tank just to the west and down the hill from the ranch reached through a hunting encampment which is leased to hunters for thousand of dollars per year.  At the tank, Joe does some fly fishing and brings in about eight fish in 20 minutes.  Bass. Four of them are big enough to eat.  Throws them back in because we don’t have permission from the owner -- although the tank is over-populated.  


When the owner arrives, we get permission. So next Friday, we will have a fish fry at my guest house.  Joe says, “Never announce a fish-fry until you have caught the fish.“  The ranch owners do not like fish.  

There are deer and pig tacks all around the tank.  We corn one side (both sweet and sour corn).  Sour corn is made with stale beer and yeast and becomes practically sour mash -- pre-Jack Daniels.  Deer and pigs love it.  The idea is to concentrate the game in one spot.  Deer will not be killed (harvested) because they are not in season.  Pigs (feral pigs of a certain type) will be killed because they unbalance the environment.  Texas has open season on them, and the U.S. Park Service recommends their extermination.

I interview Joe, and record on the computer using the microphone and Wire Tap Pro software.  Fifty minutes.  Among the more provocative questions I ask him is why it was he missed having a daughter.  What are his feelings of loss?  He was eloquent in describing how he initiated his son, John, into manhood. (Listen to audio interview at: http:/  

I also ask him about the religious implications of the WHOLE process of the kill all the way to the table.  


Joe says hearing the question gives him a little scariness in his stomach -- as he doesn’t relate to religion.  I asked, "How about sacred?"  The Indians felt all this was sacred.  I tell Joe I read the Prayer Book’s Daily Office often, and in the Hebrew Bible, you find things like (Leviticus at least) giving elaborate directions of the slaughter of the sacrificed animal, how it is to be cleaned, how it is to be served, and how God “finds its scent pleasing.”  The holy sacrifice is shared.  Joe says, “No, you don’t eat alone.  The fun is sharing it with everyone.  Your neighbors.  Food is love.”

In the evening, Jacquelyn arrives with her three daughters, Lia, Ava, and Maddie and a teenaged friend.  We have a big talk with the girls.  They have gone to a pet shop.  They are giggly, but have an awareness of adult decorum.  They describe strange and intriguing animals -- such as a sloth.  One of the girl's says she fed a giraffe out of her mouth. We eat barbecue pork in burritos.  Tender, smokey.  

Jacquelyn asks me whether I might like to take care of their dog, Murphy -- as they are going to be traveling.  He is a pure bred Black-mouthed Cur, a Southern dog; over a thousand dollars in price.  I ask whether the dog will stay close or roam.  Stays close.  What does it eat?  Dog food, and scraps.  I said I allow dogs in the house, but not in my bed.  And I will run the dog several times a day to expend its youthful energy -- nine months old.  


Yes, I will take the dog.  I say the only problem I see is that the dog and I will bond, and then separation will be hard.  The dog, which has herding and hunting instincts, does bark excessively.  Several miles of trotting along a mountain bike at sometimes over ten miles-per-hour over rocks in 100 degree sunshine and skinny-dipping in a swimming-hole, will cure the dog of excessive barking I am certain.

Murphy and I become pals quickly.  He senses intruders -- man or animal, a mile off -- by some kind of super-sensitive central nervous system he has.  On our first night together, on the hill overlooking the canyon at dark, as the near full moon rises, the two of us howl at the moon together.  It gratifies my soul.

To be continued tomorrow
Go to sequel: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8

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