Welcome to Gopher Count

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Welcome to Gopher Count, Episode 1

by Lisa Loucks Christenson


If Jerry "Habby" Huckshaw was good for nothing else, according to his wife Trixy of 50 years; he could at least sniff a gopher in his soybean fields from fifty feet away.

Two things worried Habby about the upcoming King of the Gopher Count contest: His doctor-ordered lifestyle changes and the arrival of Jorge Cradey. A southern fella who not only towered him by a mere two inches; his truck was two years newer and sat a foot taller. Instead of moving south –– like his friends, Jorge headed north to see all of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, do a little hunting, and hoped to earn a few gopher hunting trophies in the upcoming years.

To make matters worse, Jorge didn't arrive and find any old farm. He didn't even take out a loan like everyone else around these parts. No sir. Instead, he paid cash and who knows, maybe he even paid using a few gold-dipped gopher feet along with his "gopher money" to snatch up Bull Frogs Spring acres,  the best hunting land in four counties.

For the first time in 50 years, Habby had a real competitor in the upcoming Gopher Hunt Competition. That wasn't the only thing that bothered Habby. It was the way this newcomer proudly hung a sign on his mail box that read: Arkansas State Gopher Count King for 55 years!

He didn't only have Habby beat by five years, and in some other state he'd never visited, Jorge now owned  Habby's best hunting grounds for the past 60 years. 

So when Trixy handed him one of the best fruitcakes, the nicest one he'd ever seen her make she begged him to go be neighborly and say hello for her too. Habby argued he should eat the the fruitcake and give Jorge a note that read, "you got my hunting ground; so I ate your cake," but Trixy slicked his hair back and said, "Now be back by five I made you a nice plate of ribs."

Habby knew his nosey wife would find out if he didn't show up so he did as she asked, and tried to think about the ribs more than the gophers and fruit cake. He absolutely refused to go out of his way to welcome this new neighbor with any sweet sentiments or the usual speel, "doors-always-open" if you need anything. 

In fact, the only thing that came to mind as Habby neared Jorge's was there would be no more gopher hunting on old man Dillard's land that Jorge owned. As Habby pulled into Jorge's driveway he had to pass the brazen Gopher Champion sign Jorge hung out, one Habby secretly prayed a plow truck would clip off during the upcoming winter.