Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)
TITLE: Drownding Out Squirrels
By Sheri Gordon
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Today Papa says all of us kids, me an’ Ruth an’ Earl an’ Alice, hafta go squirrel huntin‘. He says there’s too many squirrel holes in the pastures, and the cows and horses is steppin’ in ‘em and gettin’ hurt. Last time we drownded out squirrels, I was the one who got hurt. Mama says I need to be more careful, but she don’t know what really happened. Earl don’t want me to tell her neither, and Alice sat on me until I promised not to.
‘Sides, Papa pays us one cent for the small squirrels and five cents for the bigguns, and I don’t want Mama to tell me I can’t go. Sometimes we get ten or even twelve cents in one day. We don’t get paid nothin’ for pluckin’ chickens. And Mama says we can go to the general store with her tomorrow iffin we got money to spend. I usually get me two licorice sticks for a penny, but I’ve been savin’ my pennies, and this time I’m gonna choose a brand new hair ribbon. It costs three cents, but I don’t care, ‘cause it’s gonna make me look real purty.
Drownding out squirrels is hard work. First, we hafta get water to the holes. Papa let us have part of an old buggy, just the four wheels, and Earl fixed a board on top to set the big cans on for water. There’s a rope fastened to the two front wheels so we can pull it. It takes all four of us a pullin’ on it when it’s loaded with three or four cans of water.
(Earl likes to brag that he invented the water cart, but it was really Alice’s idea. She‘s the smartest one. And the bossiest one. Just ‘cause she’s the oldest, she thinks she can tell us all what to do.)
On squirrelin’ day, we pull our load over the pasture until we find a squirrel hole. Then we start pouring water in the hole to make the squirrel come out. That’s why we call it drownding out squirrels. When the squirrel comes outta the hole, we hit it with a big stick, or smack it with a hoe or shovel. Earl likes to shoot rocks at it with his sling shot. He’s purty good at that. Papa don’t let us take his gun no more since Ruth almost shot herself in the foot. She weren’t hurt none, and Papa wouldn’t have never known, except Ruth got to hollerin’ so much Papa came a runnin’ from the cornfield. He said he was sure a rattlesnake done bit her.
The bad part of squirrelin’ comes when there’s more than one hole. Then the squirrel don’t hafta come outta the hole we filled with water. He can escape outta another hole, so we hafta guard all the holes. Because I’m the youngest, they make me sit on the other hole to keep the squirrel from escapin‘. They say it’s because they can pour water down the hole faster than I can. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s ‘cause I’m the littlest, and I hafta do what they say.
Last time, while I was sittin’ over the hole, the squirrel started biting my bottom, and I started to cry.
Earl says to me, “What’s wrong with you, Blanche? Stop yer belly-achin’.”
And I says, “I can’t. He’s biting me.”
Then I jumped up and out ran the squirrel. I got a good scolding from Earl for letting a big squirrel get away. He says it’s my fault we lost out on five cents.
This time I got more smarts. I’m carryin’ a bucket with me and I’m going to put the bucket on the hole first and then sit on the bucket. My mama didn’t raise no dimwit.
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