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Stories Archives for 2019-04

The Baptist Fox


 

 

The night of June 3, 2005 was hot, humid, and dry.  The drought conditions in deep East Texas had continued unabated all year.  Both man and beast were in search of cool air and wet water.

As deputies for the Shelby County, Texas Sheriff Department, my partner and I patroled the county, checking the security of businesses, churches, residences, and schools.  On this particular night, we were driving through Blair, a community on the far western side of Shelby County.  We pulled into the parking lot of a small Baptist church located right off the Farm-to-Market highway.  As we drove up to the church, suddenly an animal ran from under the church into the trees beyond.

 

Although we had gotten only a fast look, we identified the animal as a female fox.  She gave a glance back at her intruders as she disappeared into the pine trees behind the church.

Larry and I mused that the fox was probably hot and was using the church crawl space to rest and cool off.  Then, suddenly, a young fox peered at us from the church crawl space opening.  He seemed not to be very afraid of us as he ventured outside the entrance and stared at us.  

The little fox probably was hot, hungry, and thirsty.  Larry had brought along a sandwich to eat later on during our shift.  He eased out of the patrol car, opened the back door, and got half of his sandwich.  He moved toward the small fox, talking to him gently.  The fox retreated back into the safety of the church while Larry placed the sandwich on the ground at the entrance.
Then Larry found an old bowl, and filled it with water from a nearby water hose, and set it beside the sandwich.

 

After retreating to our patrol car, we sat and watched as the young fox came out of hiding, gulped down the food, and lapped up the water, ignoring his audience only a few feet away.  Then he just stood there watching us intently long enough for us to take several pictures of him.

I left a note on the front door of the church advising them that they had a family of foxes living under their church.

 

Each time we were in the Blair community, be would stop and check on our fox family.  We saw the mother a few more times, and the young fox began to run from us.  His mother probably gave him some lessons about the dangers of humans and how to avoid them.  Eventually, they were both gone, but they served as an interesting break for us while on patrol.

 

A church member jested that the two fox were baptized, and were never seen at church again.  Seems I have heard that before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE  BAPTIST  FOX”

BY: NEAL MURPHY
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972
936-275-9033
cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com


472 words

 

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Stubborn as a Mule


 

 

 

Have you ever hear someone say about a person, “He’s as stubborn as a mule?”   Or perhaps even you have been called “mule headed” by others.  I think we all know what the meaning of the word is, but are mules really stubborn?  If someone is stubborn, it means that they are contrary, unwilling to change, or unwilling to do things that are expected of them.  Some people say that the stubborn person “walks to the beat of his own drum”.

 

Mule expert, John Hauer wrote a book several years ago titled “The Natural Superiority of Mules” in which he says that mules are not really stubborn at all.  He says that they are simply too intelligent to do stupid things.  They also have a powerful self-protective streak.  As an example, if you load up a pack mule with too much weight he will refuse to budge.  But when you lighten the load to a point the mule feels comfortable, he will get going.  Another example – when a mule is exhausted after a long day on the trail, he will stop.  Is he being stubborn?  No, it’s the self-preservation thing.  By contrast, a horse can be ridden to death.  

 

Contrary to popular belief, mules are not slow.  Sure, a quarter horse would win a race around a track, but a mule can keep up a nice gait for hours, and would likely win the endurance race against a horse.  Hauer says that extreme heat doesn’t affect mules as much as horses.  He explains that the large ears, inherited from the donkey side, radiate heat.  Because mules do not sweat much, they do not require as much water as horses.

 

Other mule facts: Pound for pound, they are stronger than horses.  They can jump better than horses.  Their speed and agility is equal to a horse.  They live from five to ten years longer than a horse. Also, their hybrid vigor (they’re produced by mating a male donkey with a female horse) makes them resistant to many of the infections and afflictions common to horses.  In addition, they are exceptionally cute and loveable.  Hauer says that a mule can do anything a horse can do; they can do some things better; and they’ll love you like a dog.  “I kind of consider the mule a super-horse,” says Hauer.

 

Hauer tells about how mules have carried him with unwavering sure-footedness into the highest reaches of the 12,000-foot La Sal Mountains, through Nevada’s burning desert, and up Colorado’s canyons.  They did not get sick, they did not go lame, they never missed a step, nor did they slip on a rock.  Whereas on those rides, he recalls watching other riders dismount their horses and lead them along especially treacherous trails. “It never occurred to me to get off.  I knew the mule could handle the trail better than I could,” says Hauer.

 

I remember that in the long-running “Gunsmoke” television series, Festus Haggen rode a mule named Ruth, instead of a horse.  Perhaps Festus knew something about mules back then.  It’s time to give credit where credit is due.  Let’s put a stop to the “stubborn as a mule” myth.  The next time someone calls you “mule headed”, just say “Thank you for the compliment”.

 

 

 

“STUBBORN AS A MULE”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

107 HEMLOCK STREET
PO BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

547 words

 

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Rocky Mountain Oysters


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up in East Texas during the 1940s and 1950s, and must admit that my culinary experiences were very limited.  I ate mostly meat, potatoes, and other vegetables that my dad grew in our small garden.  I liked fried catfish, but never developed an appetite for the other little sea critters like shrimp, clams, oysters, and other like sea offerings.

 

It was not until I enrolled in college in Waco that I was introduced to the now popular pizza pie.  So, I was way behind the culinary curve in most areas.

 

In 1974 we moved to Littleton, Colorado where I took a VP position with an insurance company.  Being the new guy on the block, I had to endure some good-natured ribbing and pranks in order to become accepted by the herd.  It was at this point that I was introduced to a delicacy, or a Hors d’oeuvre, to many Colorado natives.

 

I had lunch with one of our local agents one day and he asked me the question, “Have you had any Rocky Mountain oysters yet?”  I hated to reveal my ignorance to the guy, but I had no idea what he was referring to.  So I replied, “Well, Bill, I don’t think I have ever eaten any.  In fact, I don’t like oysters.”  That comment produced a chuckle from Bill and he then told me what they really are.  I was stunned.  “Do you mean that people actually eat those things?” was my reply, knowing I had fallen for the loaded question.  He laughed and said, “Oh, sure.  They are quite a delicacy out here in the northwest.  You just got to try some.”  I never did eat one.

 

In truth, “Rocky Mountain Oysters” is a term for a dish made of bull, pig, or sheep testicles.  The organs are often deep-fried, coated in flour, pepper and salt, and sometimes pounded flat.  This delicacy is most often served as an appetizer with a cocktail sauce dip. 

 

In the western part of the United States, most people lived off the land.  “Waste not – want not” is often the idiom of choice when living off the land. Have left-over green tomatoes from your summer garden?  Fried green tomatoes it is.  Manure from your barn?  Throw it on the compost pile.  Found yourself with buckets of testicles from the annual branding and castrating of spring calves?  Tuck it in, pardners - we’ve got some eating to do.

 

It’s safe to say that the practice has appalled and fascinated the uninitiated for years.  Many “hunter and gatherer” cultures would not want to waste anything.  The dish, purportedly mainly cowboy fare, is most commonly found served at festivals, amongst ranching families, or at certain specialty eating establishments and bars.

 

Just as there are legends about the organ meats such as liver and heart, there’s also the historical notion that consuming testosterone-rich testicles can be a masculinity-booster for those gentlemen seeking that extra edge either on the battlefield, or with the ladies.  There is a supposed “Viagra” effect, according to tradition.

 

I have read that many ranches collect them during branding, and when they are all done they will have a party afterwards.  The “oysters” will be the main meal – a full course to go along with the beer and whiskey.

 

Going back to my culinary roots, I feel that this delicacy is one that I can do without, just like the real oysters, shrimp, and crabs.  I just wanted to warn those of you who visit one of the western states, that you might get asked the same question I was, but unlike me, you will now know what Rocky Mountain oysters really are.

 

 

 

“ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTERS”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

107 HEMLOCK
P.O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972
Phone: 936-275-9033
Cell: 936-275-6986
Email: sugarbear@netdot.com
Web site:  www.etexasbook.com


618 words

 

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