Of all the chores we hafta do on the farm, drownding out squirrels is the worst. I donít like pluckiní chickens much either, but at least I donít get hurt none.
Today Papa says all of us kids, me aní Ruth aní Earl aní Alice, hafta go squirrel huntinĎ. He says thereís too many squirrel holes in the pastures, and the cows and horses is steppiní in Ďem and gettiní hurt. Last time we drownded out squirrels, I was the one who got hurt. Mama says I need to be more careful, but she donít know what really happened. Earl donít want me to tell her neither, and Alice sat on me until I promised not to.
ĎSides, Papa pays us one cent for the small squirrels and five cents for the bigguns, and I donít want Mama to tell me I canít go. Sometimes we get ten or even twelve cents in one day. We donít get paid nothiní for pluckiní 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 Iíve been saviní my pennies, and this time Iím gonna choose a brand new hair ribbon. It costs three cents, but I donít care, Ďcause itís 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. Thereís a rope fastened to the two front wheels so we can pull it. It takes all four of us a pulliní on it when itís loaded with three or four cans of water.
(Earl likes to brag that he invented the water cart, but it was really Aliceís idea. SheĎs the smartest one. And the bossiest one. Just Ďcause sheís the oldest, she thinks she can tell us all what to do.)
On squirreliní 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. Thatís 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. Heís purty good at that. Papa donít let us take his gun no more since Ruth almost shot herself in the foot. She werenít hurt none, and Papa wouldnít have never known, except Ruth got to holleriní so much Papa came a runniní from the cornfield. He said he was sure a rattlesnake done bit her.
The bad part of squirreliní comes when thereís more than one hole. Then the squirrel donít hafta come outta the hole we filled with water. He can escape outta another hole, so we hafta guard all the holes. Because Iím the youngest, they make me sit on the other hole to keep the squirrel from escapinĎ. They say itís because they can pour water down the hole faster than I can. I donít think thatís true. I think itís Ďcause Iím the littlest, and I hafta do what they say.
Last time, while I was sittiní over the hole, the squirrel started biting my bottom, and I started to cry.
Earl says to me, ďWhatís wrong with you, Blanche? Stop yer belly-achiní.Ē
And I says, ďI canít. Heís biting me.Ē
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 itís my fault we lost out on five cents.
This time I got more smarts. Iím carryiní a bucket with me and Iím going to put the bucket on the hole first and then sit on the bucket. My mama didnít raise no dimwit.
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