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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)

TITLE: Listening for the Vetch
By Emily Gibson


Some days living on a farm are a little out of the ordinary.

Our horses had broken through an electric wire fence enclosing their field. Early on this summer morning, I went out to walk the fence line as the hot wire seemed to be shorting out somewhere in the pasture. It clearly was not hot enough to discourage the horses from deciding their heart’s desire lay on the other side. The temperatures were already climbing with a dry breeze picking up from the south. As I approached the fence line, I heard numerous snaps and pops as the electric wire shorted out in the dry grass and weeds, creating a potentially dangerous fire hazard with the winds whipping up.

As I walked closer, inspecting the wire as it ran through the grass, I was puzzled to hear snaps all up and down the fence, but could not see the usual sparks I expected. As I knelt down by the wire, watching and listening closely, I heard a little "snap" and a tiny seed pod burst open in front of my eyes, dropping its contents very effectively all over the ground below. It was, in reality, the dried common vetch seed pods that were snapping and popping, masquerading as hot wire shorting out. To my relief, the pods were literally exploding all up and down the fence line in a reproductive symphony of seed release. Grateful there was not an impending fire to be extinguished, I turned off the electricity, put the broken wire back to together, and plugged it back in. So all was well, at least until the next determined horse decided the adjacent pasture looked better. However, I was now officially late for work.

While driving ten miles of winding country roads to my “town” job, listening to the morning news on the car radio, I was perplexed why the radio station would be playing cat meows over the news. I turned off the radio, and realized the meows didn’t turn off as well. It could only be a stowaway riding to town with me in my van.

As soon as I was able to safely pull over, all was quiet. I surveyed my van from back to front, looked under seats, opened the back, and scratched my head. For the second time that morning, my ears seemed to be deceiving me. Then the meowing started again—from under the hood. I struggled with the latch, lifted up the hood and a distressed bundle of kitten fur hurtled out at me, clinging all four little greasy paws to my clean white blouse. Unscathed except for greasy feet, this little two month old kitten had survived a 50 mile per hour ride for 20 minutes, including several turns and stops. He immediately crawled up to my shoulder, settled in by my ear, and began to purr. I contemplated showing up at a meeting at work with a kitten and grease marks all over me, vs. heading back home with my newly portable neck warmer. I opted to call in with the excuse “my cat hitchhiked to work with me this morning and is thumbing for a ride back home”. With my kitten purring on my shoulder into one ear, and the memory of my snapping vetch in the other ear, I headed home to return him to the barn where he belongs.

So it is never dull on the farm and there are always lessons to be learned. I will remember to bang on my car hood before I get in, learn how to get greasy paw marks out of a white cotton blouse, always strive to keep the hotwire hot, and when listening to the vetch snap, not let it fool me that catastrophe is about to happen. It is simply exploding in noisy reproductive ecstasy.

And it doesn’t get much better than that.

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This article has been read 692 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 09/11/08
That must have been a fascinating experience, hearing the seed pods pop. (I've heard that soybeans may do this too.) My dad still mows around the ripening sweet corn before he puts up the electric fence. I had to smile at your "meow"ing hitchhiker. How scary/funny. (We rescued a kitten from the engine of a Ford pickup once and kept him, we named him Ford then a year or two later we had a kitten named Dodge. :) ) I loved this farm-tale. It makes me home-sick.
Shelley Ledfors 09/14/08
A very charming story! I love your descriptions.
Leah Nichols 09/15/08
Cute story! Well-written.
Scott Sheets09/16/08
Cute story! The last lines were quite clever.
Kristen Hester09/16/08
I've had the a cat ride with me to pick up the kids from school. I, too, thought he'd hidden in the car but found him under the hood. Sweet, down-home tale of life on a farm. Nice, gentle pace. Good job.
Valarie Sullivan09/16/08
This was cute! The strange symbols in the text were a little distracting.
Good job!