Hunter slowly opened his eyes to the sound of the old rooster crowing from the fence post in the yard. He looked towards the wood-framed window and could see through the old tattered curtains that it was just getting to be light. His eyes seemed to be a little swollen from the tears that he shed for most the night. He swung his feet out of bed and on to the cold wooden floor that moaned as he stood and walked. Slowly he made his way to the small kitchen to put on a pot of coffee on the old potbellied stove that his maw cooked on.
Countless times when he was young, the rooster would chase him around the yard until Hunter would end up on top of a fence.
“Darn rooster. I should just fry him up for dinner” he said out loud. Hunter hated that rooster, and he felt that the feeling was probably mutual. The rooster did not seem to care much for him either. His maw named the rooster “Charlie”. Her philosophy was if an animal had a name, then it became a pet and could not be harmed. But what about when Charlie was trying to hurt him? That rooster had some nasty spurs and was not afraid to use them. Why did that not seem to matter? Why did this bird get a free ride all the time? On countless times when he was young, the rooster would chase him around the yard until Hunter would end up on top of a fence. Now of all mornings, this bird wants to wake him up at the crack of stupid. He was not in the mood for him. He shook his head as Charlie crowed again and headed back to the bedroom.
The dew across the ground glistened and highlighted the webs of the funnel spiders and the droplets of dew on the tree leaves lit up like Christmas lights.
Hunter threw on his jeans that were draped across a chair, a belt looped through the belt loops with an old belt buckle that he won in a rodeo left undone, no shirt and barefoot, he made his way back to the kitchen, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out the door to the front porch. He sat down in the old rocker that creaked as he rocked back and forth while he took a sip of coffee. He listened to the rooster crow as the sun started to slowly make its way up over the horizon. He watched as everything started to come alive and the birds started to sing. The dew across the ground glistened and highlighted the webs of the funnel spiders and the droplets of dew on the tree leaves lit up like Christmas lights. He could hear Whiskey in the barn rustling around and he heard her whinny a few times, signaling for him to come to feed her. He also heard the cows let out faint moo’s as they were making their way up towards the barn for breakfast. He knew he had to get moving but it was hard to wrap his mind around what had happened.
Reality started to set in and he knew he was alone. He thought he had himself prepared for this day, but never really believed it would come. Now here it is, reality, the size of Texas, staring him in the face and a load of responsibilities that suddenly became all his. He stood up, finished his coffee, gazing out over the land. He wiped the tears that were creeping down his cheeks, “Cowboy UP” he said out loud and headed inside the house to finish getting dressed.
Hunter headed to the barn, gave Whiskey some grain and hopped on the old Farmall tractor, started it up and pulling a trailer behind with hay on it, rolled out the doors to feed the cows. The work is never done on a farm he thought as he rolled along throwing out some hay here and there. The cows followed him along as if he were the pied piper leading the rats away from town. A fairy tale that his maw told him when he was young. They followed him around until he had thrown all the hay they were going to get. He rolled the tractor back to the barn, then headed to feed the chickens and pigs. They were the easiest of all to take care of and could be on his way. He fed the hogs first and then started watering and spreading feed for the chickens. He looked over at the rooster and in a stern voice, said “You don’t want to mess with me today. You will be dinner if you do”.
It’s Sunday and he was running late he thought as he led Whiskey out of the barn, tied her to the hitching post, threw a saddle blanket, saddle, bridle, and reins on her, looped the roping rope over the horn and headed to the house. He gathered up some biscuits from the morning before, some country ham, wrapped them in a handkerchief, some apples for Whiskey, and stuffed them in the saddlebags. He filled the canteen with water, his fly rod, and rifle and headed out the door hearing the old screen door slam behind him. He threw the saddlebags onto Whiskey and tied them off, along with the fly rod and rifle. He climbed aboard and eased out of the yard and up the hill.
“Sorry to keep you waiting Boss, but I had a bit of a hard start this morning.”
To be continued…