Kenny went off to an auction one Saturday where wildlife and birds of all kinds were being sold.
This was at the very end of the big ostrich craze. You all remember that don’t you. There have been several others too, the Emu , the Llama, the Alpaca where anybody that’s anybody has to have some if they ever expect to become wealthy.
Anyway Kenny decided my little estate could use a couple of the giant birds. So unbeknownst to me he pulled in and opened the trailer gate and made me the proud owner of the two ostriches. Like I said the craze had passed and the once $10,000 birds were worth about nothing. But with plenty of room for them to roam I thought they were a pretty good novelty item to have around.
Several of the boys were still living at home and with friends often over, they would run them down and swing up on them for a ride occasionally.
One day Chuck, the top cop here in our little town (he was the only cop) stopped by. He had a problem. A woman with a son about 10 or 11 in tow showed up at the police station. They were homeless. Bertram may have problems but homelessness isn’t one of them, so he didn’t know what to do. He thought maybe I could figure out a place they could stay until other arraignments could be made.
We cleaned out a corner of my shop building and put a couple of cots back there for them to sleep on. Not exactly living in the lap of luxury but better than sleeping on a park bench.
Being just a short distance from town, they could walk there for food. I gave them a small pittance so they could do just that.
The next afternoon when I got home there was a trail of blood leading across the driveway right in through the garage and into the kitchen. Ron Jr. had every medical supply in the house out on the kitchen table and him and the woman were trying to bandage a cut on the kids foot. He was messing around out in his new home, my shop, and picked up a big mirror that was stored there and dropped it. It broke and sliced his foot.
Finally with it cleaned, doctored and taped up we got them out of the house, “our house”, and back out in their new home.
With disaster averted, I went off to work the next morning. When I came in that afternoon, Ron Jr had them back in the kitchen bandaging up the woman’s wounds she received when they were walking across the pasture from town and was attacked by one of ostriches. This woman was cut, scraped and bruised all over. None of us know for sure but it’s thought that as they were walking the big birds came over to them and being scared the woman took off running and her feet got tangled up, she tripped and fell and maybe repeated that several more times. Because the feathered creatures had never actually flogged anyone else we didn’t buy that they suddenly started attacking homeless people out for a walk.
Deciding that things weren’t going to get any better, I had Ron Jr load them up (the homeless pair, not the birds) and take them to Austin and dump them out. All I could think of was the next thing I knew the woman and the kid would be living in the big house with Madeline, the boys and me living in the corner of the shop.
That brought an end to the Bertram homeless problem and we got to keep our home.
That didn’t end the ostrich story. We drove out in the pasture one day and one of them was walking around with it’s head down almost dragging the ground. Strangest thing I had seen in a while. I secretly always wondered if one of the boys had broken it’s neck swinging up on it to take a joy ride. By the next day big bird was dead.
The one single goofy looking fowl continued to walk around in circles all day long, maybe looking for it’s friend, but it finally recovered and went back to walking around eating grasshoppers and other stuff.
The twins got old enough to drive so we went off to south Austin to buy them some transportation. We found a couple of little pickups.(Remind me to tell you the story of teaching all my boys the art of buying used cars or new cars one day)
One got a black Mazda and the other a gray Ford Ranger. They were neither very old and with fairly low miles so we figured they would last them through high school.
Teenage boys first getting used to driving don’t always have all the details down like putting pickups in gear and setting the parking brakes. Justin, the one with the black Mazda was the guilty one. When I got home that afternoon the black pickup was setting down in the pasture.
When I went in the house and saw him setting there and asked him why his truck was way down in the pasture, you could tell by the look on his face that he was completely unaware.
The pickup had rolled down the gravel road, exited the fenced in area around the house by rolling squarely across the cattle guard toward a stock tank that was a couple of hundred yards further down. It had stopped just a little ways short of running off into the water.
He and I walked down to the truck and it appeared everything was fine. It had just been left in neutral. Not a scratch on it. Lucky us. Justin in his haste had forgotten the keys so he returned to the house to get them.
When he started back down to retrieve his pickup, from across the pasture came the lone ostrich in a full run. Without even slowing down the damn thing crashed into the front fender of the truck, fell down, got back up and kept charging the door and side of the black truck until there wasn’t a straight piece of metal on the left side.
Justin finally was able to get in and drive away before the darn thing completely totaled it out. Finally the pickup was safely across the fence.
Immediately a contract was put out on the life of the one ostrich. The only condition was it had to be a clean shot to the head. It was carried out swiftly.
Folks from the ASPCA there is a ten year statute of limitation on cruelty to animals charges and it’s been 20 years.