Towards noon, we took a break from sorting the seedlings (which do we plant? which do we sell at market) picked up our hoop hoes, and walked down the dirt road, Fred leading with the dogs gamboling. Ladybug and Poppy Jo trotted with their mouths open, revealing a set of teeth too long to look anything but hungry.
Suddenly the dogs took off at breakneck speed, zeroing in on one honey brown squirrel, fifty yards away. Fred yelled encouragement and I watched in fascination and horror as the greyhounds let loose with all their instincts for chase and blood. Funny how in these moments you get so involved, there’s nothing else going on in your brain. Maybe that’s why time slows down.
The squirrel leapt for the fence and failed; Poppy Jo took it up in its mouth, by the tail, and the little creature let out an indescribable sound, a violent snarl and a tight scream at the same time. I imagined all the air in its body being squeezed out. A squirrel’s throat is really so tiny, it sounded more like a squeak. But I still registered it as a scream. The squirrel gets flung in the air, lands by the side of the road; then Bug catches it up. And then they seem to know the game is up, because they leave it breathing at the side of the dirt road.
All this takes less than a minute. The squirrel is fading slowly, and Fred finishes it off, and I want to look and not look at the same time. I’m creeped out but thrilled and then ashamed that I’m thrilled. Bug has suffered a cut on her lip and is dripping blood from her mouth. Stacy and I go and hoe the flowerbeds near the beehives. The longer we are there, the farther out the bees swing out from their hive, closer to us. So we make short work of it and come back before they push us off their territory by stinging us.
When we come back. Fred is still rubbing the dogs, congratulating them for killing the squirrel that probably ate the artichokes last year and it all clicks in, all the reasons for killing. Around here, they’re just not cute scampery little foragers skipping along the trees at the park, they’re eating crops. It’s bad for business.