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Some Kids I Have Known
Bees, Bastions and Cowboy Hats in 1978

The gentlemen of the range, who were savvy with knowledge of the rights and wrongs of western apparel, certainly knew a straw hat was better than a 3x beaver Stetson for summer wear. All the old, long-standing habits are mostly gone now. Young men of this genre are usually more comfortable with a ball cap. The insignia on the front may advertise some western store's merchandise but it is still only a cap. There is no wide brim to block the sun from a man's face but what does that matter? Usually, the rancher's chores don't cover long stretches of having to ride across the prairie on a horse to get to a location. Roads wind all through the pastures and a pick-up truck can easily access any part of the rancher's wide spreads. The ball cap is less likely to label the man as a cowboy. Fast-moving cars and trucks might carry him over long distances through cities and towns before he gets from his ranch to a destination that is tied up with business. However, some of the men still hold to the traditions of their father with their head gear. Mr. Jim was one of those who was more comfortable with the western looking straw hat his father had left him when he died.

Mr. Jim was busy about the property taking care of endless chores. Even though there were not herds of bawling cattle demanding attention the man still kept a small number of farm animals mostly just for the children to participate in 4.H. At the moment he had his small daughter's attention as he was banging on the metal barrel where feed for the sheep was kept. The lambs and sheep were so well trained they were like obedient children as they ran at a lope toward him for what they knew were their rations. Names were all given to them. There was Lancelot, Queenie, DeVon, and so on. Indeed, the old writings that said, “They will know their master's voice,” was true. Other chores had to be finished and the man, who was anxious to get on with them, was mentally counting the sheep.

“Where is that Queenie?” He muttered to himself.

“There she is.” His little three-year-old daughter pointed toward the animal.

“Queenie! You get over here. You know you don't belong in that vacant lot.” He chastised the sheep who was always the only one to wander. Queenie ran toward them as if she would get some dire punishment when, in fact, an affectionate nose rub was all they had for her. As soon as she reached the property line the sheep stopped her head on race and now gingerly began a leisurely ambling over toward the feed barrel like some regal queen might do.

“How does she know where the property line is?” Jim's wife asked.“Who knows? Maybe it is the length of grass being different. One is taller than the other since we never mow at the same time.” His wife knew that was a sore spot with him. Often the grass in the vacant lot was left to grow almost wild. When the absentee owner did mow the place all the snakes hiding in the grass made a run for their place. For some reason Queenie was the only one who availed herself of the more plentiful grass. The others were happy to stay on their own place.

Mr. Jim's wife, stood watching the peaceful scene. She noticed that at the back of their property some of the neighbors were attempting to add hobbies to their lives, too. These track farmers were involving themselves with raising bees. Only one hive was up against the border line fence. At this time two of the men were attempting to smoke the bees out of the hive for whatever reason.

Suddenly Mr. Jim dropped the metal barrel lid and it made a resounding clanging noise. His wife couldn't imagine what was happening. In just a couple steps the man was beside his little daughter. He picked her up in his arms. Jim jerked the straw, wide-brimmed hat, from off his head and began fanning it all around the child's and his own head. The man's wife stood with no understanding of what was happening. Everything had changed in a blink of an eye. The peaceful scene was now one that was explosive and it involved her husband as he ran across the back of the lot toward the house. It took the woman only a couple of seconds to realize what he was doing. Evidently, the bees were angry with being disturbed and were attacking the first thing that was in their line of vision, which was their little daughter. Mr. Jim had seen what was about to happen and literally out ran the bees so he could pick his child up and run with her while he wildly fanned the things away with his hat. The men who had been smoking the bees out of their hive stood looking on with expressions showing mixed emotion. They saw what was happening and must have realized that this wasn't something they would have planned. It could almost been seen how they were thinking about getting rid of their hobby.

“I think that if Jim's Dad could have seen how his son whipped those bees away from his little granddaughter with that old cowboy hat his son still wears he would have been so pleased. This was the response Jim's mother was giving to his wife who had been on the phone telling her mother-in-law what had happened.

“Dad always grieved that he wasn't able to leave you kids his land.” The older woman said. “Big ranchers, big dairy men, and big government, being what they are, just kind of squeezed us little folk off our land. I know Dad would have felt so good to know that the old cowboy straw hat he didn't need took care of a bunch of mad bees. I can just hear him saying, 'Bastions are not always fortresses in stone. Most of the time they are the man himself.

Sometimes, the greatest protection can come from the smallest thing if it is held in the hands of a man who has love and right motives.”

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