Monday, November 02, 2009

The one with the armadillo picture

Yes, I have finally responded to your incessant* demands to "Post something, you cunt!"

So, here is "something."

Now that we are at the folks' Nest, our temporary home 'til we go on to Northern Ireland, I have access to a whole treasure trove of family photos. While most of them are pictures of someone's thumb (it's how people on my mom's side of the family took pictures; most families know who's taking the pic by who's not in the shot, we know by whose thumb it is), there are a few that did turn out all right.

So, as threatened promised, here is the infamous Armadillo Picture:

That would be me, age 5 (or 6; I can't remember and my mom's asleep right now; that would also make it the summer of either 1975 or 1976), on a trip back to Eastern Oklahoma to visit my mom's Okie relatives. I'm in what was my favorite nightgown (you can't see it, but it had little pictures of angels all over it) in the back of my uncle's pick-up truck after having been out with them the previous night to go shooting armadillos. My mother didn't approve, which is why I'm in my nightgown; Dad snuck me out after Mom had put me to bed 'cause I had begged him. Sometimes it pays off being Daddy's Little Girl.

My mom was born in California in 1948, her parents were part of the great Okie migration in the 1930's, following the Dust Bowl, but they still had relatives that stayed in Oklahoma and stuck it out.

Yes, those are dead armadillos. If you're not familiar with armadillos (proper Spanish pronunciation: Ar-ma-DEE-yohs, local yokel pronunciation: Armuh-DILL-ers) , they are primarily known in Oklahoma and Texas as a crop pest and road kill. They breed like crazy, have no natural predators any longer, and so if you have a farm/ranch (as my relatives do) you have to eradicate them on a semi-weekly basis. This mainly involves a gun, as it's useless to put out traps for them, and even if they would take poisoned bait, my uncle wouldn't have put it out, as the local birds of prey will eat freshly dead things, and then there'd be less hawks to catch mice in the fields. Armadillos mainly like to root around under the fields, looking for grubs and such, and in the meantime destroying the root system of whatever's planted. They are mainly nocturnal, so about every other week my uncle and cousins would spend the night out shootin' armuhdillers.

The Wikipedia article does mention that they jump when startled (which makes for interesting shooting, or so I've been told), but the article fails to mention that they also will do a back flip when shot. Good times. They also roll up into a ball when threatened, so as to protect themselves.

Here you can see some pictures of what it looks like when an armadillo rolls up into a ball. The text states "Once the animal is rolled up, there's no flesh left for predators to bite!" Notice that the text does not mention anything about shotguns. If you're wondering what happens to them after they've shot them, they pick out the shot, put them on a spit and roast them and then the pigs get them. Oh yeah, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. The pigs eat everything but the shell.

While in Oklahoma, I was also served rattlesnake for lunch (tastes like chicken, but textured like swordfish or shark), and given the snake's rattle as a toy to play with, after they had dried it for a couple of days. We kids were told to only use the stairs to go up and down the farmhouse porch, not to just jump off, because the rattlesnakes that lived under the porch were used to people using the steps, but "get ornery" if you jump off the porch. And the last thing anyone wants, I am sure, is ornery rattlesnakes. When I asked my Aint (that's Oklahoman for "aunt") why they didn't shoot the rattlesnakes under the porch, she replied "Oh honey, they ain't hurtin' nuthin', and they keep the mice from comin' in the house." Rattlesnakes in the outhouse were fair game for target practice, however, as no one enjoys a snake up the backside in Oklahoma, apparently.

While already an accomplished horseback rider at age 6, that trip back to Oklahoma also learned me how to round up cows, milk them, learn how to use an outhouse (with Sears Roebuck catalog pages as toilet paper, no less!), get used to bath water from a pond and drinking water from a well, and find out that everything east of the Rockies is a lot buggier than Southern California.

More pics to follow over time, as the Spouse Sparrow digs through the boxes and scans them, assuming our scanner co-operates.


* I lied; people have actually been pleading with me for years to stop posting.