Glanville: War in a horse pasture
Each spring, the half grown June grass would mark the time my two brothers and I would start building forts in Buck’s pasture.
Buck was one of Grandpa’s favorite horses. I’m fairly certain he was as old as Grandpa, but he didn’t mind the forts, as long as we didn’t use him to try out the Wild West tricks we’d seen on TV.
These forts, there were always three, were to be our only defense against marauding neighbors that crossed the Cattle Guard into the Kingdom of Glanville to lay pillage to Grandma’s apricot and apple trees.
Each spring, we’d rebuild our forts with sagebrush and the occasional “borrowed’ chunk of lumber and repaint our shields, with red barn paint, of course.
Then, as spring marched on and the June grass got taller, we’d pull it out of the ground, dirt clod and all, and lay it out to dry.
When these dirt clods with tails had dried out, we’d restock each fort in order of importance. The third and best built was stocked with all we could carry, for it was the last outpost for Grandma’s orchard.
Of course none of our preparations or marching around brandishing our newly painted shields went unnoticed by the Coppage clan or the dreaded scourges of Butler Hill, the Bailey boys.
One July afternoon, after a very fierce battle, we’d lost the first fort, and had it not been for a singular charge by my brother Kris, the toughest kid in all of Butler, Utah history, we’d have lost a second. Well, that and the Coppages’ mom was screaming for them to come home.
We all retreated home, the enemy to plan their final charge and we vowing to go down fighting to the last dirt clod.
As we crawled under the fence and hung our shields, facing the field of battle, we heard the nauseating cry of Janice, Queen of the California cousins.
“What are you guy’s doing?” she said. “Can we play, too? Your dad said we could. Come on, let’s ride Buck.”
“We can’t,” Scott the jackrabbit said. “He’s way up in the orchard sleeping and you know how he is when we wake him up.”
Of course they didn’t know, but it worked. They tailed us back to the house, hoping quietly tomorrow would be horse back day. All we had to was figure out how to get rid these cousins and still win the next day’s battle.
As we stopped to dust off any evidence of our battle and the cousins ran to the house to rat us out, a familiar voice asked, “about to lose another one boys?”
It was our favorite cousin, Mike, from clear across the valley.
“They got us outnumbered this year and will probably bring a few more tomorrow,” I said.
“Got a plan?” Mike said.
“Heck no, we don’t,” Kris yelled, “but we aint given up.” “We’ll think of something,” Mike said walking back into the house.
The next morning after breakfast, Mike gathered us all up — even the stupid cousins — and asked, “Who wants to ride Buck?”
Of course everybody from the land of fruits and nuts raised their hand.
“OK,” Mike said. “But first we have to stop a band of Indians from stealing Buck. Can you help us with that?” Again, the stupids started jumping about like grasshoppers. I dropped my head, wondering how loud Queen Janice would scream when the first dirt clod hit her.
Oh well, all’s fair in cousins and war.
Mike walked them to the second fort.
“All you need to do is hide here till you see them coming, then start throwing these dirt clods,” he said. “The first person to hit an Indian gets to ride Buck first.”
They all said yes at the same time, three times in a row.
We walked to the third fort, shields high hoping for some kind of victory.
“Well boys,” Mike started, “when those cousins run you boys will have stuffed enough of these (he’d pulled out a double handful of firecrackers) into your dirt clods to win the day.”
He then gave each of us a handfull of kitchen matches, stood up and headed for the house.
I was right.
Queen Janice could scream and run at the same time, as could the Bailey boys and the Coppages.
We’d won the battle, but lost the day when Mrs. Coppage showed up at the house wondering how her children got so bruised and slightly bloody playing in an old horse pasture.
Hey, you be careful out there and stay to the light.
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Wildland firefighters are starting to get some traction in battling the West Fire in far northwest Moffat County.