Chapter 16 – Our Farm on Bug Ridge

Before school was out, I promised to go back and teach again. I had no idea what I would do that summer. Before school was out, I got on a trade with Cliff Gillespie for a farm, which Brady and I bought after school was out. As soon as the deal was finished, Junior [Brady’s son] and I went to Salem. This was April 29, 1928. When we got up that morning, it was raining at Brady’s, but there was snow on the tops of the hills. When we got to Flatwoods, there was snow everywhere; and when we got to Salem, there was a foot of snow. They said there was 18 inches of snow on Bug Ridge, where our farm is. Although it froze some, the fruit was not hurt.

We had a large pear tree that was full of young pears. We picked about 20 bushels of very fine pears that fall.

Brady got a carpenter to help me two days on the house. I did the rest with a little help from Brady. Elmo came up after his high school was out, and we cleaned up a nice piece of ground that summer. We also tended two acres of corn, which was very fine. The mail boy told me it was the best piece of corn he had seen on the Ridge.

Now the ridge on which the farm is situated is called Bug Ridge. One night an Irishman stayed at a house on the ridge and said the next day he never saw so many bugs in his life. “Sure and it should be called Bedbug Ridge.” Later it was changed to Bug Ridge.

Snakes on Bug Ridge: Elmo went down under the hill to get some water one day at noon. When he came back, he said he saw a snake lying on a rock and killed it; he believed it was a copperhead. I went out and looked at it; sure enough, it was a copperhead. This was the boy’s first poison snake.

One evening Pepper, our dog that you will hear a lot more about, came running up. Elmo said, “So the bees got you, Pepper.” I looked and saw that his head was badly swollen. I told Elmo it was not bees but a snake. He said he knew where it was, for he saw Pepper stick his nose under a rock and jump back. I went over, turned up a rock, and there it lay. So I proceeded to destroy the dirty sinner, and Pepper was properly revenged. This was snake number two. Later in the season we found snake number three and killed it. The three snakes measured altogether 92 inches.

I killed several other copperheads much larger than these, but Mama killed the granddaddy of all the snakes. It was a black snake 5 feet 11½ inches. She had Pepper to help her, or I doubt if she would have killed it. Every time it started to leave, Pepper would bark at it (he was a brave dog). Jennie would carry more stones and pile on the snake till it was as dead as a door nail. I think she was very brave, for she was very much afraid of snakes. She said she would never have tried to kill it, but she had a garden beyond where the snake was and she would never go out through the tall grass while that snake lived.

Neighbors on Bug Ridge: This summer we got acquainted with the Huffmans: Uncle Daniel, Aunt Nancy and Bee. Later we got acquainted with Olta Facemire and Ira. She was a sister of Bee’s and built a house on her share of the Huffman place. These were the best friends we had on Bug Ridge. I forgot to mention Jim Marlow, Mrs. Huffman’s brother, who lived with them and would do anything for us.

This summer Elmo had a .22 rifle. We practiced a lot with it till we could sometimes hit the nail that held the target on the board. He also taught Pepper to jump through a hoop and later through your arms. Pepper would do this till he was so old that you had to put your arms down low so he could jump through them. We took time for fun but did a lot of work. We went down to the river to swim, and Elmo was surprised to see that I could swim so well although I had not done any swimming for years. We went fishing once and caught a few small ones. He was never there during hunting season, or we would have done a lot of hunting.

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