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  • MJ Rodriguez

The day of the inebriated animals


Making sorghum is hot, hard work, and long days. My family worked together as a unit, each of us with a specific job. The boys ran the mill outside, while Mom and I skimmed and routed the juice from green stage to molasses stage. Dad finalized the product and it was jarred, labeled, and ready for market. With our bunch, anything could happen, and it often did.


“Look what I found!” We all looked to see Marvin holding a skunk by the tail. The idea was to hold up it by the tail so it couldn’t spray. I guess it works because the poor creature was at the mercy of a fifteen-year-old boy and didn't spray him.


Dad’s first instinct was to yell. “Put that down, boy.”


Marvin dropped the animal, which ran directly into the fire-pit which hadn’t yet been fired. We spent most of the day trying to coax the frightened animal out from under the sorghum pan.


As we worked, Mom and I dumped the skimming into a bucket, and soon juice accumulated. The juice was then poured into a barrel behind the sorghum house, and, left in hot weather long enough, fermented. Later, the juice was dumped into a field, but somehow a chicken and later a cow found the fermented sorghum cane juice fermenting in the barrel.


One Saturday morning as Mom and I cleaned the kitchen, we heard a ruckus outside and ran to see what was going on. The boys were watching a hen stumbling around the yard. She staggered a few feet, then jumped into the air.


“Perrrrrk,” she said. She pecked the ground several times. “Perrrrk!” She lurched forward, squatted down, and stumbled forward again. “Perrrk.” She jumped into the air and tried to peck the ground again, but her beak pointed upward so she hit the ground with the back of her head.


This went on for some time with us following her around, holding our sides and laughing. I’ve often thought if only we’d had a movie camera at that time, we could have entered a video in America’s Funniest Videos.


Sometime later the boys found one of our cows passed out drunk in the barn lot. She was lying on the ground with her legs extended on each side. Dad and the boys used a nine-foot cotton picking sack to make a sling. They somehow shoved the sack under the cow and hooked it to a pulley attached to a chain which they threw over a tree limb. The tractor pulled the chain to hoist the cow up where she swung in the cotton sack. She hung there several hours until she sobered enough to be able to walk.


From a crazy, drunk chicken that acted like a fool to a passed-out drunk cow that was of no use to anyone, we saw the effects alcohol can have on different persons. This experience was the topic of livid conversations around our dinner table where we gathered every day to share the day’s events. What wonderful memories I have of those days.

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