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Out On The Mudline

Low Places, Snakes Keep Life Interesting

By W. P. Sissell

Those Other Creatures

At about this time every year Nannette and I start running what we call our trap line. We are bird watchers and feeders. If you check a bird feeding guide you will find that almost all birds feed on sunflower seed—we confine our feed to sunflower seed and have found that many other animals like them along with the birds. One afternoon, as Nannette watched the birds she realized that something other than a bird was getting a drink of water from her fountain—a snake—stretched out along the banister of the deck. From the description, it was a chicken snake.

At about this time every year the humming birds have grown to a small flock buzzing around from the feeders on the sides of the deck. The large sized invaders, the ones which we set our trap for are gray squirrels. We knew that we had as many as three but now after catching three we have three more feeding at our bird feeders.

Back to the Fields

We got moved to the delta place, “Dry Bayou,” in plenty of time for getting established in our new home—the little three room house at the north side of the section of land that comprised the delta farm. Our nearest neighbor there was the Holmes family who had an eighty acre farm lying between us and the Monteith’s who also came from the Enid Reservoir area.

One of the things that I tried to do was get Nannette accustomed to driving to her school at Locke Station. The distance was about fifteen miles. When you get to know the roads of the delta country you realize that most of the time you are moving along sides of squares or rectangles. Sometimes the old bayous get in the way of the straight roads. My mistake was that I showed Nannette three different ways to travel those fifteen miles. When she travelled the four miles to Crowder on that first morning alone she was lost and headed east. When she got to Tom Pugh’s store (should have been at school by now) she stopped and asked for direction. We had met Tom at church on Sunday.

As she left school the previous afternoon she told Brother Tramel that if she was not there by eight o’clock the next morning she would be somewhere—lost. She did get to school shortly after eight.

Back to the House

At home I plowed, cut and baled hay, got materials for fencing a quarter section, plowed and plowed in one field where the rows went a few feet short of half-mile. In another, out of cultivation because of a large low place in the very middle of the field, I began to realize what my dad, Mr. Reuel, saw when he looked at land. A real estate agent once told me he didn’t need to look at fields that Mr. Reuel owned or had owned. He knew what they looked like.

That particular field, about twenty acres in a big bend of Dry Bayou, contained a low place grown up in small willows, that was too wet to work until after cotton planting time. Just across the gravel road there was a twenty five acre field, some of the best cotton land on the entire place that could be in cotton every year. The first field had been plowed round and round with turning plows, throwing the soil toward the bayou, usually the highest place in the field, forming the low place in the middle of the field. I could connect this to the majority of the cultivated land on this section of land.

Now I realized why I had that brand new three bottom pan plow hooked behind a brand new M Farmall tractor. I went to some extreme measures on some of the man-formed low places but I hastened their demise. There’s always fun things that happen. One way to cure the evil of a small low place is to plow straight through them—plows down. I remember Joe Stribling excitedly (unusual for Joe) telling me one afternoon—”You know that field up there by the Walnut trees—as I plowed that small low place it was full of morning glories and clogged up my back plows—well, I got down to unclog the plows—As I bent over pulling the vines I felt something hit my instep—when I looked a small moccasin had struck my shoe—well I tried to kick him loose.” I got in, “Did you get him loose?” To which he replied, “After the second kick I heard him going through the leaves on that Walnut tree.”

I’m still having trouble with my new computer—can’t seem to learn the proper way to send my article by e-mail. When I found no one at the Herald office (I left too early), long time friends, Hugh and Doris Hunt acted as intermediaries and took the article by later.

Our wish for you is a great week. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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