It was a bright sunny Saturday in the early fall of 2006. Since we both had day jobs that monopolized our time during the work week, we each usually had a laundry list of chores to get done Saturday mornings. Sometimes we combined our lists and spent the whole day together. Other days, our chores were too many or too diverse to be accomplished together ...so we each tended to our lists separately. This was one of those Saturdays.
My big chore of the day was to give a first full bath to our two yearling Paint fillies. First baths can be a little bit of challenge since young horses are naturally fidgeting and cold hose water tends to make them even more fidgety. But learning to accept a bath is an important part of the 'education' we try to give our young horses. Standing tied is another important lesson that teaches patience. So I had decided to combine lessons (bath and standing tied) and bathe both fillies, one after the other, this particular morning. One would stand tied while I bathed the other, then the first one would stand tied and air dry while I bathed the other. Yeoldfurt's big chore was to get out the chainsaw I gave to him for Christmas the year before and clean up along the fence lines. We were living on the Gulf Coast in Brazoria County at the time. Living in that part of Texas in the hot seasons was like living in a terrarium. The humidity is like an invisible heavy wet fog that you can feel but not see. It's an ideal climate for vegetation though. Dozens of 'volunteer' Chinese Tallow saplings (weed trees) were always springing up along the fence lines. Like most 'weed' vegetation, Chinese Tallow trees are hardy and incredibly fast-growing. The saplings needed to be cut down regularly or they would compromise a fenceline in just a couple of seasons. I figured it would be a full morning for both of us. We got an early start, hoping to be finished and back in the air conditioning before the day heated up.
I walked out to the barn which was about 50 yards from the house and Yeoldfurt headed for the tool shed to get started on his fence work. By the time I got set up to start bathing the yearlings, I had all but forgotten what was on Yeoldfurt's agenda ...so I didn't notice that there was no chainsaw noise from a distance. I got the first yearling soaked and soaped and was getting ready to rinse when I thought I heard Yeoldfurt holler from back toward the house. I tied up the yearling and went around the corner of the barn to look. The smaller of our two trucks was blocking my view so I couldn't see Yeoldfurt. But every once in a while, I saw him raise something that looked a whole lot like the sledge hammer high up in the air and swing it back down with a fury matched only by the tone of his ranting. Without the barn between us and now that the water was turned off, I could hear him more clearly. He was definitely MAD. I don't remember exactly what he was saying but it was not nice and I would probably feel compelled to bleep it if I did try to quote him. Having learned from experience that it was best to be VEWY QWIET (Elmer Fudd voice) when Yeoldfurt was in one of these moods, I just said a silent prayer and went back to bathing the yearlings.
About an hour and half later, the yearlings were clean and dry and turned out with the rest of the herd. I cleaned up after my mess in the barn and peeked around the corner of the barn to see if Yeoldfurt was still in a rage. All seemed quiet. Maybe too quiet. I walked to the house and noticed that the front fence line was still dotted with volunteers. I walked up the three steps to the front door but paused to listen before turning the knob. The only sound from within was the drone of the television and the hum of the ceiling fan in the front room. I opened the door and found Yeoldfurt relaxing on the couch with a big glass of tea. He looked calm and he seemed in a good mood, so I decided not to ask about his morning. Instead I asked if he was hungry and wanted some lunch.
The rest of the weekend was easy. After we ate, we headed into town for some errands and came back home with a couple of movies from the video store. By that evening, I had forgotten all about the chainsaw. I don't remember what we did on Sunday that weekend, probably nothing in particular and certainly no more chores.
Monday morning, I was walking out to the truck to go to work and noticed an odd colored patch of grass near the shell drive circle. I looked closer and was baffled at first to see a brownish stained circle, irregular and about 8 inches in diameter. It wasn't brown like dead grass ...it was brown like coffee. Then, half buried under the stained carpet grass was a small shard of green plastic. It looked foreign and familiar at the same time. It was such a distinctive chartreuse green but it was small, a jagged half inch piece of something ...but what? Then it hit me. The chainsaw I bought for Yeoldfurt last Christmas was a Poulan. There was a country song a couple of years ago that railed about "John Deere green" as a distinctive color, but I'm telling you ...Poulan's green is far more distinctive!
I smiled to myself, tucked the shard in my purse and kept walking to my truck. On the short drive into work, I started piecing together what must have happened. The chainsaw had been packed away since early spring and was probably reluctant to start. Yeoldfurt has little patience with things that don't fire up right away and the sledge hammer was probably just a little too handy when his fuse got lit. After the first blow, the chainsaw was dead for sure and Yeoldfurt just finished venting his frustration on it until only this tiny little shard of casing was left. I toyed with the idea of asking Yeoldfurt when I got home that evening, but decided it was better to let him bring it up ...if ever. I got braver as time went on though. A few months later, I casually mentioned some of the deadfall we needed to clear in the back pasture and the ever present volunteers along the fence line. He ignored me the first few times but then finally said, "I don't have the chainsaw any more."
I looked him with as much innocence as I could muster and said, "You don't?" Yeoldfurt has very expressive eyes and it has always amazed me that he can portray two contrasting emotions almost simultaneously. This was one of those times. The look he gave me was both defiant and sheepish at the same time. He was annoyed with himself for smashing the chainsaw, nervous about telling me he smashed the chainsaw that I bought for him and poised to defend himself if I took offense at the news. I let him bake in his emotions for a few seconds and then smiled and said, "I know." I told him I heard him when I was out at the barn and knew he was using the sledge hammer on something but didn't figure out what until I found the sad little shard of chartreuse green casing in the oil stained patch of grass the next day. I didn't mention it to him then because I figured if he wanted to talk about it, he would bring it up ...and if he didn't want to talk about it, I sure didn't want to bring it up. I told him I had come to think of it as "The Chainsaw Massacre" and we both had a good laugh about it. Have I mentioned Yeoldfurt has mellowed a lot since then?
~Published with permission from Yeoldfurt~