Almost Funny

This was almost funny, yet so not.

For the month of November, I joined Rebecca Lawton ( in her NOMOWriMo, which I wrote about in a previous post. That’s not the almost-funny part, although I am a bit tickled that I wrote the 500-words-a-day to which I committed plus another 10,000 words, because I had a self-imposed goal of finishing a draft of my novel in progress. Which I did. There is now a beginning, middle, and end to said novel, and I am so very grateful to Becca for offering the impetus to git ‘er done!

Today at the cabin I spent the blustery morning inside, moving scenes around and deciding on chapter titles, that kind of thing. Then the wind died down and I noticed that it was afternoon. Time to go check cows.

Okay, I’m getting there. In the novel, some of the scenes are real-life events I have experienced but for whatever reason I haven’t wanted to write about them in my normal genre, which is literary nonfiction. The last post was such a scene. Another scene involves the main character, Jessi, and her romantic interest, Jake, working to put some wild horses back through a hole cut in a fence. This is based on TJ Holmes and me doing that very thing, only the fence wasn’t cut and the hole was a four-foot-wide ride-through gate. I still find it remarkable that we accomplished the task–two women, two wild horses, a small opening in a miles-long fence, and a long afternoon–and I have hoped that in the novel I convey the scene appropriately.

So. I go out to check the cows, noting that the sun is fast heading toward the horizon behind me–I only have two hours of light left and I hasten up the dirt road. Once I cross the cattleguard onto our BLM allotment, I slow to look for cows and at fences, hoping everything is at it should be. Which it’s not–cow are grazing on the wrong side of the fence. Easing farther east to find out if more cows are out, I see a big hole in the fence. Shit. Cattle or elk must have pushed it over. I have to check everything else before fixing it, and fortunately everything else is fine but that took at least an hour, and I head back west toward the last half hour of actual sunlight, see that the cows have returned through the opening to the correct side, and get out to figure out the problem.

Clean wire ends on one side, the other ends are curled back on themselves, like this:

Someone has cut the fucking fence. And curled the wires back so that: either they could ride through it (there were no horse tracks, plus there are gates that can be used), or drag something through it. Like a dead deer. Or elk. Because if they shot something from the road (illegal, plus it’s private property on the far side) there’s no easy way to get to it, and hunters tend to want to drag heavy dead animals in the most direct route possible to their trucks. And in this case, since they were probably poaching, they would also want to do it as quickly as possible.

With cows, cow shit, and tracks all over the place it’s pretty clear that the cows are in a pasture defined by a fence, and cutting a fence leaves them free to roam. The only other reason I can think of for someone to cut the fucking fence is that it was a random act of meanness. I’m betting on hunters.

I was short of light and didn’t scout around for clues. Yet. I will tomorrow. Ken and I both drove past that fence several times yesterday–it happened either last night just before dark or this morning when I was happily working away on the novel.

We carry fence pliers and tie wire in our trucks so I was equipped with that much, but I had no fence stretcher with me, or better wire for splicing, so I did a shitty job of patching the fence, which took me to the edge of darkness. My hands bleeding from the greasewood and barbed wire, my temper mounting, I drove home.

Actually, I don’t think this is funny at all. I have to revise the scene. Jessi is not nearly angry enough.

4 thoughts on “Almost Funny

  1. Great writing, as usual, and I don’t see anything funny about people cutting fences. Have a little respect, people.

  2. What an eventful life you lead; it’s a good thing you are a writer and make such beautiful use of it. It was a pleasure to fall in with Jessi and Jake for a while a few days ago and to see they are still finding good trouble to get into.

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