OLD TIMER BLAMES THE BIRD!

By Norris Chambers

             Many of natureís critters present problems for kids living out in the country. One of these critters was a wild looking bird with a long beak, a lengthy tail and thin, spindly legs. It was a little larger than a big crow but didnít look anything like one. This creature was called a chaparral or road runner. We had a few of them in our pasture. They made their home in a portion that was mostly covered with mesquite trees and different kinds of cactus plants. My dad told us we shouldnít kill them because they ate rattlesnakes. That sounded reasonable so we made it a practice to keep them off of our hunting list.

                        Roadrunners seemed to inhabit the same area year after year. There were two of them and we called them ma and pa. They built their nest on the low branches of a mesquite or on the ground in a large cactus patch. If you came too close to the nest the one at the nest ran out and hobbled around like it was badly crippled. When a predator or other enemy approached the affliction suddenly improved and the bird was able to stay a little ahead of the pursuer. When the chase was far enough from the nest the ailment apparently healed and the one being chased escaped without any further problem.

                        I have mentioned the roadrunners because I blamed one of them for a traumatic day in my early life. I realize that the bird was only doing its thing, but if something bad happens you have to place the blame somewhere.

                        Clifton and I decided that we wanted to go horseback riding on that particular morning. We needed the three horses that we generally rode. Their names were Min, Cougar and Badger.

                        The first thing we had to do was find the horses and drive them back to the lot at the house. This was not an easy chore since the horses were in the big pasture. It took us about an hour to find them and drive them home. Often when we got almost to the lot they would turn and run and it started all over again. They had figured out that a trip to the lot meant a trip to the plow or saddles on their backs and they didnít consider this a lot of horse fun.

                        By the middle of the morning we had them in the lot and the saddles attached. We assured the adults that we would be back in time for dinner. (Modern folks refer to dinner as lunch and supper has been renamed dinner.)  Clifton was riding Cougar, Clyde was on Badger and I was riding Min. We must have been a wild looking bunch. Our intention was to head south and enter the Graham League, then follow the creek as far as time would permit.

                        We had gone less than a half mile when one of the roadrunners flew our of a mesquite tree and began the flipping, flopping crippled routine. The horses pretended to be terribly scared and started running and bucking. With this sudden and unexpected disturbance all three of us were thrown from our saddles and connected heavily with the earth. The horses were running toward the barn when we last saw them. We scrambled to our feet and began checking for wounds. Clyde had landed in a prickly pear cluster and was he was feeling around and trying to remove thorns. He even had a big leaf or two stuck on his shoulder and right side. I didnít think I was hurt, but I discovered that my right arm was bent double about half way between the wrist and the elbow. There was no pain but I had difficulty moving my fingers. Clifton apparently picked a better landing place and was uninjured.

                        I had not seen a broken arm before and I was worried about the appearance of mine. Clyde was determined to remove all the thorns he could find. Clifton was almost in shock but he was sympathizing with me and helping Clyde get rid of the many cactus thorns. We started walking back home.

                        My dad looked at the arm and said that he could set it, but since he did not have any handy splint material it would be better to take me to a doctor in Brownwood. I wasnít in an eating mood, but we waited until after dinner to make the twenty-five mile trip to town.

                        The first thing the doctor did was x-ray my bent arm. It was my first experience with an x-ray and I was shocked to see a picture of the shattered and badly bent bones. He suddenly pulled on the arm and slapped two pieces of thin wood on it, one on the bottom and one on the top. He wrapped it with many turns of cloth tape and told us to come back in two days.

            He provided a cloth sling provided to hold the arm in a comfortable position.

                        I thought the arm repair wasnít too bad but the next visit was a different story. Another x-ray revealed that the bones were a little crooked and required re-setting. By this time the arm was sore and the resetting was very painful. We were told to come back in two weeks. The next visit was not bad and we were given another two weeks. This time he removed the splints and I was cured!

            Was this fun?  Getting well was a lot of fun! A vacation from the milking chore was nice. Maybe you ought to get a horse to ride and a roadrunner to scare him, then maybe you could break an arm and have the big fun associated with being cured! You might even get a cow and enjoy the milking vacation for a few weeks!

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