alan skeoch
Sept 2020
I know this is a summertime picture.  Imagine no leaves and an icy day in

The older I got the more guns I saw. Especially on visits to the farm.
It seemed every teen ager used guns and  loved hunting just for
the thrill of the kill.  Groundhogs were the most common  target because
there were so many digging up farm fields. Now there are hardly any.  None
on our farm.  None on the fields of the fifth line.  In  1950 they were as common
as hen’s teeth and therefore worth killing it seemed.   

Porcpines, however, were rare.  And I thought they were protected. i.e. not to
be shot.

One winter  day, however, I ran breathlessly back to my Grandparents farm house.
“Granddad there’s a porcupine in the big pine deep in the back swamp.”
His response startled and unsettled me.  “Wait until I get the gun. Then we
will go back to the bush and get him.”   I did not want to do that.  I loved
the discovery of a live creature high in a tree.   

Granddad was old by then and  had to walk with help of a crutch.  He did
not get out of the farm house much in the winter unless they needed firewood
from the pile back near the pump.  So this was exciting for him.  Not for me.
We hobbled our way to the back bush.   I hoped the porcupine had moved off
but it was still there.  High up.  “Have you used a rifle before, Alan?”
“No.”  “Well this is a chance to learn…aim and shoot.” (22 calibre  single shot rifle)
I aimed and deliberately missed a couple of shots.  Granddad would not give 
up so my third sot was a killer shot.  “You hit him…but he’s not dead…you will
have to climb the tree to get him down.”

What an ordeal.  I climbed the tree easily but as I got close to the porcupine
blood began dripping onto me.  Felt terrible.  With a stick I tried to knock him
out of the tree but no luck.  Some Porcupine quills fell on me as well as the blood.
No luck.  Left him there and we hobbled back through the snow
to the farm house.  Defeated.  I think he was disappointed in me.  

The next week there was word goiing up and down the farm line about dogs
getting into tussles with porcupines.   Quills stuck in their muzzles.   Both Granddad
and I kept our mouths shut.  This was no doubt my porcupine who finally died
in the tree and  fell to the ground.   I felt a lot of guilt.

After granddad  died the 22 rifle was  part of  our inheritance.  Mom hid it.
When she died the rifle was supposed to go to our boys, Kevin and Andrew. 
Instead  Marjorie insisted we give it to the OPP for destruction.  End  of the rifle

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