I have a neighbor that is now 87 and still farming and ranching everyday. In order to protect his reputation I will call him Old Man Brown.
Mid July this past summer we were have a slight heat wave, each day the temperature was creeping up, 110, 112, 115 and on that day my tiny thermometer was hitting 118 degrees. It was so hot that I noticed that the lizards were carrying sticks.. more about lizards and sticks another time.
Anyway, I was out of both ice and tea. In the southwest during the summer being unable to make a glass of sweet ice tea is a serious condition. I headed to town to resolve this ice tea problem when, about 2 miles from my tiny house I spotted old man Brown. He was standing in the hot mid-day sun looking at what looked like his favorite mule Jake lying on the ground in the corner of his pasture.
As I approached it indeed was Jake, dead as a mule can get. I was not looking forward to getting out in the mid-day sun, but, after all old man Brown is 87 and looked like he could use a little help. He had his 1947 Ford model 8N tractor and a long chain that he was wrapping around Jake. As I neared the dead mule, Jake, and old man Brown I inquired what he was doing and if I could be of any assistance.
Old man Brown thanked me but said he was almost finished, he was going to drag Jake to a spot down the hill a bit where old man Brown had dug a hole to bury Jake to control the fly’s and keep other critters like skunks, possums and coyotes from eating on Jake.
I ask old man Brown if he knew what had killed his mule. Old man Brown, pushed his hat back a bit and Yes I Do. Pointing across the fence at a 40 acre field of popping corn that had suffered from the drought and 110+ degree days, it was stunted, not a single green leaf to be seen.
Old man Brown said he was filling Jake’s water tank when he heard it, the sound of corn popping in the field as the temperature approached 118 degrees. Old man Brown said, Jake heard it as well and was watching as corn started popping in his 40 acre corn patch. Old man Brown, pulled his hat down to shade his eyes from the mid-day sun and calmly said, Jake was a good gentle mule, he was a hard working mule, but, not the smartest mule he had ever had.
Old man Brown said as the corn started popping that stupid mule thought it was snowing and froze to death.
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