Grandpa And His Frogs

Kids will be kids. My cousin had came to the farm for a short visit and I took him down to the pond to show him all the tadpoles I had seen a couple of weeks ago. I told him there were hundreds of them all over the place! He wanted to see them too. We told mom where we were going and she told us not to stay there too long, it would be dark soon. This pond was quite large, but only knee deep, it was left over irrigation water that collected next to a fork in the road during the summer.


Going through the cattails and stepping over the edge near the water, we could see little frogs everywhere. The ground moved, there were so many of them! We started gathering as many as we could carry, but ran out of places to put them quick. I said “just a minute, I have an idea.” We were using an old cardboard cup we found, I knew where an old pith helmet hat was. It had been there for a long time but it would work good for holding frogs!

We gathered maybe 50 of those little guys and they kept jumping out of the hat, so we decided that we needed a cover. Looking around, I found an old no trespassing sign nailed on a piece of wood, that would do. Our pants were wet now and our shoes were squishy but we had all those frogs. “Oh boy, wait till we show your mom” I said. We carried that helmet all the way back to the house and sat it outside on a table by the porch.


We were so excited, we wanted to tell everyone what we had found, this was a big thing for us. Our mom’s got after us because we were coming into the house with wet shoes, and told us to take them off. Grandpa asked us what it was that we had found, we simply told him frogs! “Can I see them?” he said. I ran off to the porch, grabbed the helmet with the lid and brought it back inside where I promptly put it in his lap.

When he lifted the sign off of the old helmet, he yelled “holey doodle” and threw it up in the air! He didn’t think we had little frogs, he thought we had big old toads, like we usually found around the house. When the hat went into the air, frogs went everywhere, landing on tables, the floor and the laps of those setting on the couch. “Oh mercy!” said grandma, all this really surprised everyone!

Frogs were everywhere, on tables, on the floor, even in my aunts hair. Now they think its funny, well not to everyone, grandma was not happy at all.


She used a broom to try to sweep up as many of he little guys as she could find. My cousin and I picked up any survivors by hand when we could find them. I hoped we had found all of them, but we didn’t bother to count them before. Those that we caught along with those that grandmother swept up were put outside in back on the grass and I thought that would be the end of that.

I knew there had been a couple found in the pantry later and under the sink in the kitchen, their croaking gave them away. Those survivors went outside too. Grandmother called them grandpa’s frogs, and said she wished we had never brought them into the house. Almost a month later, I heard a little chorus of frog voices coming from the basement. There was an old shower down there, maybe one or two of those little guys made it to the basement after all.


Maybe was an understatement! The flashlight only showed that there were at least five frogs. It was incredible to see almost twenty or more around an old wet shower floor. They were everywhere, bunches of them. Especially when we turned on the overhead light.


Don and His Constant Bragging

He had been a long time friend, for may years, may he rest in peace. The one thing I knew for sure was that when the phone rang, I was sure it would be Don again. He had done something spectacular or was about to do something great. It got to be old after a while. Sure he didn’t have much, but he had to constantly reminded me about it.

“Hey, it wasn’t my fault you left your brains in your other pants. Or stood behind the door when the good lord was passing out brains and thought he said trains so you ordered a one track set. Don’t blame me!” Don would say.

On this one occasion, he had called me to tell me about his job and how early he had to get up in the morning so he could get started on the daily routine of driving the city garbage truck. He even had a helper now, this was a promotion for him since he had started out on the back of the truck.

I was complaining about the frost on the windshield of my pickup, so thick I had to use a metal ice scraper in the morning. This is the middle of December, its about 22 above in the daytime, a little chillier at night.


He promptly told me I should get up a little earlier and go out, start my pickup and let it defrost the window. I told him I couldn’t do that, because the cop across the street would give me trouble about leaving my car idling unattended. “I don’t have that trouble in my neighborhood he says, I have good neighbors.”

I reminded him that my people in my neighborhood were not of the same ethnicity as the one he lived in. “My neighbors are not from south of the boarder.” that didn’t faze him, he still called me lazy. So I thought maybe I should do something to give him something else to do besides brag. He told me I could always put newspaper on the windshield, I told him it would just freeze and be a bigger mess. “Ha ha, too bad you are such a lazy old bugger.”

Not… A… Real…Thing

I was going to a college close by to where he lived, and when class was over, it would be late in the evening. The perfect time to stop by and fix him up I thought. And that is just what I did. I put a small plastic water bottle in the pick up on my way to school that evening, and several pages of the morning paper I had.

I had the bottle wrapped up so it wouldn’t freeze, and couldn’t wait for class to end. I made a bee line for his house right after it ended. When I got there, I parked right across the street from his house, I could see he was watching TV. Now I get out and go over to his pickup and got inside, he never saw me.

I took the water bottle and sprayed the inside of his windshield and waited a few. It wasn’t very long and it had turned to ice! I repeated it again and this time I placed paper on the wet ice before it froze again. I did this process for about 3 layers of newspaper, I put it on thick.


That afternoon, I got a phone call from Don. He said he knew it was me, said it was something that I would do. Seems that he got off to a late start, and hurried out to the pickup, didn’t see the paper because it was dark and real cold. He thought it was just heavy frost on the windshield. Turned on the heater and went back inside.

When he came out, the window was not thawed out! He couldn’t understand why. Then he found the newspaper, that made a big mess for him because now he was in a hurry. Little pieces of paper got into the vents and were blowing all over as he was driving down the road. Even when he came home later that day. That did the trick, he didn’t call and brag quite as much anymore.


Those were the good old days, we did a lot of antics together while we were in the National Guard, it was always good clean fun and our reputation did spread. There might be a story posted soon, please come back by to find out on “what happened on Pops perspective.”

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A Kid In The Outhouse

On this particular day since I did not have a rifle to use and was too young to hold one steady so dad told me to keep the fire going and watch the stuff in camp. I didn’t mind, all that walking made me tired anyway. There was nothing but trees and grass for me, no excitement there. Now of course I could enjoy a good day just setting there on a rock watching nature go by without any reservation at all.

But back then, youngsters quickly loose interest unless there is something going on that interests them. The day turned out to be real nice, clear blue sky and much warmer temperatures after hanging by the fire all morning just to keep warm.

All I did was wander around but not too far, making sure I could still see camp. There were not too many trees anyway, just lots of sagebrush. Occasionally a car or pickup would come down the dirt road full of gear and hunters, but that was about all that was going on, I had played around with the fire until I was tired of that, I already had a good supply of wood stacked up and I really didn’t have much more to do.

But by noon time, those scrambled eggs and sausage had decided to become a problem for me a so it was off to the old beat up out house about fifty feet from the camp. It was the main reason we stopped out in the middle of this area in the first place, no one liked the idea of hanging their cheeks off of a log.

It’s hot outside, so I took off my coat and started for the one holed wonder. Being an old farm kid, I was used to this kind of thing and therefor the accommodations were not surprising. Wisely, I had taken along some old newspaper we used to start the campfire with, knowing there would be a need for it. Once settled down inside I did spot a yellow jacket nest right under one of the two by fours holding the side of the out house together. I figured I could use a rolled up piece of newspaper to kill the five or six bees that were hanging on the nest.

I was busy setting there on the hole and swatting bees so I didn’t hear the truck coming down the road. But as they got closer, I could definitely hear them. The truck came to a stop and I peeked out between the cracks in the boards to see what was going on. It looked to me like they had stopped and were getting out. I thought they were going to come over and use the facilities so I stayed put, hoping to get done and go. That was maybe a minute or so before I heard the first boom. I thought these guys saw something. I thought they were shooting at it until some of those little wood chips suddenly hit my bare leg. They saw something alright, and their target was the outhouse. They were shooting at it and I was still in it!!


Just as the second shot went off, the door flew open and out I came trying to pull up my pants and run as fast as I could across the clearing, with the newspaper flying. I was so scared, I did not see what those guys were doing, but I bet they panicked too. They probably scrambled like lightening struck rats back into the pickup. All I was left with was a case of nervous tummy after they roared off. I was shaking so bad, I almost piddled in my drawers. I am sure they were scared just as bad as I was.

When the rest of the hunting party came in for the evening, I quietly told dad about what had happened.

Immediately we went out to the old out house and found two new bullet holes in the side about 2 feet above where my head would have been. Luckily for me they were shooting at an old flattened out tin can someone had nailed to the upper side of the outhouse.

It was recommended that from now on, anyone going there would leave the door open so you could see or hear anyone on that road. As for me, I stayed out of it, I found me a convenient tree to use, no more bee swatting either.

Dumb Things Some Farm Kids Will Do

The only thing no one alive today can honestly say is that they were never a kid. And along with that comes a common fact that as kids, we do stupid things. With that said, being an only child is one thing and living on a farm means you have to be creative to entertain yourself. My uncle made me a sling shot out of an old milk bucket handle and a strip of rubber from an old car tire inner tube. I couldn’t wait to try it out, thinking it would be a wonderful and marvelous toy to have. I tried it out trying to hit birds, I tried it on the geese in the pasture and even a cow or two. I practiced on jars when I could find them, but those were scarce, cause grandma did canning with those. I even tried a couple of chickens, but that led to a scolding from dad so I gave that up quickly.

Wandering around, I spied an old range bull that grandpa had moved in with the dairy herd. This old Hereford bruiser did not like people, and he did not hesitate to let you know it. He would charge at the wooden corral poles and hit them with a thud trying to intimidate you. Nasty old bugger had a temper and he didn’t like me.

I was setting on top of the haystack one afternoon, watching him being a bully as he pushed the cows around at the feeding trough. I decided that I should do something about that and dug out my trusty old sling shot. The old bull was headfirst in the trough and busily feeding. I knew he was aware that I was around, but he seemed more interested in eating than messing with me.


I decided to hit him in the butt with a small rock that I had found, ya know just a little piece of gravel. I pulled back and let ‘er fly, but my aim was a wee bit off because I had to lean thru the fence rails to get a shot. I missed his behind by quite a bit but I did not miss the big hanging part between his legs.

When I hit him, he let out a loud bellow and jumped over the feeding trough and busted right through the corral rails. Boy, was he mad! He stomped and whirled around and charged grandma’s newly hung laundry in the back yard. He ran back toward the other cows in the corral, sending them running back away from the hole he left. Then he lashed into the small newly painted white picket fence at the edge of the drive way and finally ran off down the road toward the neighbors with his tail in the air.

About a half an hour later, the neighbor from down the road came driving up to see grandpa. He said that he had an extra bull running around in his back yard and it seemed to him that the bull was quite agitated. Grandpa went with him and between the two of them, they finally managed to get a rope on the nose ring and grandpa walked the old boy back home.

Dad took him and put him back in the newly fixed corral with the other cows and then watched him for a little while. He had calmed down pretty good until my uncle and I came walking up later. Instantly, he ran off over to the other side of the corral and started pacing up and down along the fence watching me closely. It was very obvious that I made him real nervous. My uncle took one look at me and slowly went around the corner of the fence to take a took at the bull from another angle. It didn’t take long for him to see the big red spot in the middle of the hanging part or to put two and two

He took me to one side and told me that he suspected I had done something to the bull with my sling shot causing him to reek havoc around the yard. He told me that the last time something stupid like that happened was when he was a kid. He said he had taken his B-B gun and shot another bull in the same place, but that one didn’t raise a big ruckus like this one did. He told me that he doubted that I would be doing anything like that again. After our little talk, the only shooting I did was at tin cans, starlings and stray dogs, there was no more cattle shooting for me.


Sir Gopher Getter

You can take the kid out of the country but,

I was raised as a farm kid, never did get the taste of cow crap washed out of my mouth. So when I sold our home of twenty years and went into retirement, running into an old enemy was not a culture shock. I found a small rental property and decided the back yard mine field could be revived into a fine lawn with time, which I was going to have a lot of. The previous tenant had large dogs and the poor yard was the battle ground of the dogs versus the gophers. I found out later on that there were two of the evil dirt devils.

First thing I did was to repair the huge cavities in the yard that was left over from a neurotic dog or dogs who went through the yard on a rampage like a tribe of unholy heathens. I trucked in fifteen five gallon buckets of dirt that I hand loaded into my pickup and hauled home. To do this properly I should have rented a D-9 caterpillar and flattened all the mounds of dirt smooth first. But that was a bit drastic and not only costly, it would be over the top. So, I just started filling holes and trenches where the dogs had launched their futile attack on those devious little rodents which resulted in tearing up the back yard.

This is a nice neighborhood where I am now, several folks trim their lawns with a pair of scissors it seems. Lucky for me, the gopher damage was behind a fence and unfortunately it seems, the only yard on this side of the canal that had gophers. On the outer edges of this subdivision, it is still a small bit rural but not the stink producing, bellowing atmosphere it once was. Mostly now the area nearby is simple pasture. That’s where those damn gophers came from, relatives of them anyway, they moved int the suburbs.

Once I got the holes filled up, I tried to mow the lumpy lawn, which was like spreading butter on the back of a toad with a knife, I could have made the lawn look better with a weed eater! There was already evidence of one prolific gopher on one side of the yard as it was, and that one was ambitious. Seemed like every morning there was another new mound in the yard.

As an eight year old kid, I trapped gophers for a living, I caught them in a wooden box trap and whacked off their tails for which I would get a nickle. Soda pop at the train station in town was only ten cents and once a week I got my treat, which I paid for myself. Wouldn’t have to beg mom to get me one, I had my own money. That worked out well, until I got this idea of cutting the short tails in two, that went about three steps with the farmer who was paying me five cents per tail, dad stopped me right there. Had to work twice as hard paying him back with extra gopher duty, which I did.

With that still strong in my mind, I started out in the back yard with that same type of wooden box trap thinking I was going to rid my yard of the pest quietly and completely. That was a joke, all I got was a box full of dirt and no gopher! After several different approaches I tried something else, smoke bombs. Yeah now I’m gonna get ya. If you do this, read the directions first, it saves you money. Put them in the hole first, then light them! Putting in the lit end will result in smothering the flamed end and it becomes useless, no smoke and no dead gopher as I found out. I read the instructions on the package, open the hole, shove the smoke bomb inside and light it. Smoke starts rolling out and I gently cover the hole without smothering the stick, which by the way was the last one I had in the package. That stopped the mound making on that side of the yard, I was cooking with gas now!

Suddenly I discover that I now have two gophers instead of just one. This one is on the opposite side of the yard and he is just as bad as the other one. I was not confident with the gas treatment with the other one, there were too many tunnels for the gas to work I thought, I was going to try poison on this one. Another failure, no results, just more mounds. I contacted several local feed store outlets for advice, and found out there is a huge variety of methods to dispose of the mighty gopher, seventy five percent I had already tried. I finally decided on using a different type of trap, a metal one. The hole I uncovered was big enough to stick my fist into, and I stuck the trap way inside like the instructions said. Within fifteen minutes, I had him, the last one. Three months now and I am still gopher free!

Dream home

Everyone usually has a home they spend a lot of time daydreaming about, I know someone who built hers. Granted, it looks like it is a two story palace, but it is referred to as ‘the cabin’. When you build a cabin along the lake, you consider encountering bears, deer, yellow jackets, mice, ground squirrels and being close to the water, lots of and lots of mosquitoes.

Its a pretty view of the lake from the dining area when the sun comes up in the morning and a beautiful sunset is displayed in the evening. Dry gravel roads do provide lots of dust, evergreen trees leave pine needles and pine cones all over but no one ever mentioned how big of a problem bats would be.

There are a pair of bay windows overlooking the balcony on the main floor. Birds sing, insects of all varieties such as bark beetles and flies are everywhere and as usual those pesky mosquitoes. Dang bugs, lots of them, they seem to be just about everywhere.

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Then evening comes along but those pesky insects are still a nuisance if you are outside. But wait, now its time to get batty and here they come. Where did they come from? Oh aren’t they cute, and so quick. Hey, that’s okay, because they do eat a whole lot of those pesky flying bugs and mosquitoes.

Sure they do, and in a forest by the lake the population of bugs and mosquitoes out number the birds and bats probably 50,000 to one. So a well fed bat can eat a hundreds of gnats and mosquitoes each night. No doubt that’s a lot of insects for a small 2 ounce flying rodent no bigger than a tea spoon with wings.

A well fed bat eventually will go to bed before dawn because they are nocturnal, meaning they sleep in the daytime. But before going to bed, there is another issue to resolve. Must be all that liquid in those insects to haul around, now they have bat pee to contend with. And how do I know bats pee? Remember those big bay window I told you about earlier? As the bat flies along blindly, his radar doesn’t really detect glass too well and it scares the pee out of him in mid air as he barely misses running into the glass. Yep, they all take a shot at it, no one gets left out.

And all that bug ingestion, it results in bat poop dropping from the corner where they roost on the balcony for the night. Being social animals, they usually group together. A bunch of bats in a small area can produce quite a collection of bat crap and it will pile up gradually. In a matter of several weeks, your pretty view of the lake is clouded over by a bat pee splattered bay window. And on inside corner of the deck under the eves is covered with a ¼ inch layer of dried bat guano. Lucky for my sister, these little guys are not the size of a tennis ball.

Worth the trip!  Winterlake Lodge in Alaska


Taking A Desert Turtle For A Ride

My grandmother lived near the Mojave desert in California, in a small town called Ridge crest. I was working as a pump jockey just outside of the naval base. I was just coming back from doing a little exploring in the desert and all of a sudden, there in the middle of the road was this big old turtle. I thought it must weigh 15 pounds, what a monster!

My grandmother had probably 20 other turtles she kept in her yard. Town folks would find them in their yard and bring them by for her to take care of. I thought this one would be a real addition to the collection, so I stopped to grab it. Although big, this one didn’t weigh 15 pounds, more like 5. But when I picked it up, this bugger proceeded to poop on my new levies. What a mess, I just used an old rag I found and wiped off the mess.

I took this monster back to grandmothers an put it in the yard with all the other ones. I then told her that I had found it on the road and decided to bring it here with the rest. She said one more wouldn’t be a problem, there were at least 10 others. I also told her about what happened to my pants. She laughed out loud and said that those pants were now worthless. I said it was only turtle poop, not battery acid. She said turtle crap was very acidic and would destroy the fabric just like battery acid does.

Well, it turned out that she was right, it did just that. When those pants were washed, the place where that turtle crapped, the fabric was gone. Pretty big hole in those new pants and a lesson to me to leave any other wandering desert turtles alone.

I never gave it any more thought and I went about my business being a pump jockey at the gas station. It wasn’t a month later that the old shell back dug out of the yard grandmother had built and took off. What was worse, it turned out that the turtles that grams had in the yard were apparently all females and that the one that I put in the yard turned out to be a male. Oh Lord, if we only knew! Soon there would be baby turtles everywhere. That was the ironic end to her turtle setting, she transported them to the desert and turned them all loose.


My Nemesis, The “Big One”

Short story about a big fish in Idaho

I know there are lots of fish stories running around, about the “big one” that got away and all that. But I am here to tell you about the ones that are part of a tribe of big ones, they are very smart and have lived a long time to prove it. These buggers are what I call “Big Eyes Brothers”. For years now I have diligently and faithfully been trying to get my hands around the pole that has one of them on the other end of the line.

I did have one on once in the early years, and it has been haunting me ever since. We were out trolling around in a boat on this very calming lake, late in the afternoon one day in September. We knew the water was a bit shallow and we had to be careful because we knew there were hazards lurking below the surface we couldn’t see. The water was like a mirror, reflecting the timber covered hillsides and blue skies, it was picture perfect as usual.

While we were slowly trolling along my line went taunt and I thought I had something. I gave it a pull and nothing. I figured I had snagged a sunken stump or something. I turned to my partner and said “I’m snagged on something” and I eased up on the line a bit so we could turn around and to try to get it free. He asked me are you sure you are snagged? To prove it, I gave the line another pull and suddenly all hell broke loose!

This monster came up outta the depths like a rocket and broke the calm water with a huge splash. My buddy told me “don’t let him jump, keep the line tight”! But that bugger defied the rules and shot up high into the air two more times. Now the line was zipping in a big arc toward the shallow water near the shore.

Then just as soon as it all started, it suddenly stopped. The line had suddenly gone slack, it had snapped and he was gone. As the boat came to a slow gliding stop, I looked down into the water ahead and saw maybe 8 to 10 sunken stumps about 2 feet below the water surface. I yelled to my partner “stumps” and he quickly reversed the motor. As we started moving in reverse, I noticed what looked like spider webs running between those stumps zig zagging everywhere. With the boat slowed, we carefully made our way around and through those stumps looking at all of those mysterious webs. Apparently it was old fishing line that had been strung through them randomly and we decided that these big fish were using the stumps to break the line!

I didn’t know how big the one I had on was but when he jumped out of the water I could see his bright colors very clearly fifty feet away. Over the years we have landed several of these big lunkers so I do know they can be caught.


What started all of this goes way back to the time I first discovered that the Big Eyes brothers existed. We had set up our campsite near the lake, had a fire going and were getting ready to rustle up some eats. I decided to take a walk down to the waters edge near an old dock to enjoy the late afternoon view of the lake. We had been out a couple of hours and did not have any luck at all. I was amazed now at all of the fish I saw jumping along he edge of the water, but I could see they were pretty small. It was the bugs flying above the water that they were jumping at. I spotted a big old miller flying erratically across the lake about 6 inches above the water about 15 feet off the dock. I saw lots of tries from the little fishes trying to get him but they just couldn’t make it. I watched the miller get closer and closer to the dock and I thought he was going to make it when suddenly about three feet from the dock a huge head rose up suddenly from the depths. The poor miller didn’t have a chance, this guy had him easily, no splash and no fuss. But the thing that shocked me the most was the size of this guys eyes. They were as big as dimes and being so close I saw them clearly!

Now it is obvious that the jumping ones had now moved down the shore line farther from the dock than when I first came down. I turned around as quick as I could and made a bee line for the rig. I was going to get a pole and put something in the water right now. I must have looked like I saw a ghost, cause my partner asked me what was wrong. I told him the story about the miller and that I had to try to see if I could get him.

That was over 15 years ago, and to this day we have managed to land three of these monsters. Several have gone over 23 inches and weighed above 7 pounds. So far the biggest one caught was 27 inches long and weighed 8½ pounds. Yes, I have pictures and witnesses, trust me they do exist. And in case you are curious, it was not me that caught one of the Big Eyes brothers, it was my partners brother. They’re still out there, watching, growing and waiting.

Just may be worthy of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame!

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