[Nona was born in November 1905 so this story had to have taken place in 1910 or 1911 if she was five or six as she indicates.]
There was a little creek – more like a little brook – that crossed our fields in front of the house – the road was between this field and the house. This little creek ran on down along the edge of the Bottoms that were on our land – turned and crossed the road. It was under the bridge over it here that the Bumble Bees had their nest. This was a low wooden bridge. The little creek flowed on down into Wilson’s Bottoms where Old Man Cole lived.
Ralph, Harry and I used to play along the little creek in the field in front of the house. In the deeper little ponds there were beautiful little colorful sunperch – much too small for fishing. We used to take bread and oatmeal to feed them. They came flocking to the feeding places to eat.
All along the edge of the water were crawfish holes in the mud. There were some quite large ones – red ones and blue ones. They remained in the same holes all the warm months. We each had one – mine was a blue one I called “Old Blue.”
They became quite accustomed to being caught, – spreading their pinchers and waving them defiantly at us while they quickly backed into their holes. There is a trick to catching a crawfish – or crawdad as some people called them. And it has to be done quickly. The trick is to grab them by the top side of their body just back of their pinchers. I got caught a lot of times because I was too slow. Many times I had several fingers bandaged at one time – a large crawfish can pinch pretty hard on a small child’s finger and I was only five or six years old. They hang on like a vise and it takes several hands to get the crawfist loose. It’s sort of like having a tiger by the tail. Some one has to hold the crawfish—and that other pincher is just looking for a finger to latch onto! So, you have to find a small stick and get him to hold it with that pincher—but they are smart enough to let go of the stick and grab any finger that comes near! Then some one has to pry the pincher open that has grasped the finger. This takes some doing as we didn’t want to break the pincher or injure the crawfish.
Those pinchers are hinged in such a way that when closed they sort of lock and it’s difficult to pry them open. And those crawfish were determined to hold onto any finger they grasped. These large crawfish are just a smaller model of a lobster, and they have a mean disposition.
We some times had crawfish races. We would each put his crawfish an equal distance from it’s own hole, and the crawfish that reached it’s hole first was the winner. They crawl forward, but scoot backward much faster. Some times the crawfish got into fights among themselves and Ralph and Harry had to pry their pinchers loose from each other.—And they sometimes got caught by an angry pincher. I learned the hard way to stay out of crawfish battles. Once my “Old Blue” was getting the worst of it and I tried to rescue him—he showed his gratitude by grabbing two of my fingers with his pinchers—he was hanging onto my fingers and the other crawfish was hanging onto him. It took both Ralph and Harry to untangle us.
I think my crawfish was either the meanest, or maybe the smartest of the lot.
When I would try to catch him he would suddenly scoot backward just as I was about to grasp him back of his pinchers and grab my finger. So I was the one that got caught. Ralph and Harry always said it was because I was too slow.
My opinion was the crawfish was too fast.
We always took took Jack, our Bulldog, with us. Mr. Reed’s mean Jersey Bull was in the adjoining field and pasture. There was a good strong fence between the two fields but that Bull was known to go through fences. Jack hated him, and the Bull hated every thing and every body.
We knew if he got after us Jack would attack him and keep him busy giving us enough time to escape. The little brook was only about the distance of a city block from our house.
One day we took Kate, Dad’s English Birddog, with us. She was prowling around in the grass and weeds when she suddenly “froze” pointing at a stump of a tree that had been chopped down. Many sprouts had come up around it. We went to investigate and saw a Bob White quail on it’s nest beneath the brush. We called Kate away so as to not disturb it.
About a week later we went back to check on it. The nest was empty, but with the egg shells indicating the little ones had hatched. But we couldn’t find the mother quail and chicks. On a later trip to the brook we saw her, but could never count the baby quail as they would dart in every direction and hide in the grass. So we started taking chicken feed and scattering it around for her.
She remained there and raised her brood. We sometimes heard the male quail calling but never saw him.
When Winter came the crawfish disappeared. I suppose they spent the Winter buried in their holes in the mud.
Often the little brook froze over. We broke the ice and fed the little sun perch every few days. They didn’t seem any the worse for the cold. We quite often found raccoon tracks along the edges of the water. Their tracks look much like a baby’s foot print.
Dad said the raccoons are very fond of crawdads and probably ate most of them.
Jack was wary of them after a big crawfish pinched his “nosy” nose once.