I’m a country boy who grew up on a small farm in Middle Tennessee. Thanks to a wise and nurturing mother and a great education (much of which was acquired outside of academia) I managed along the way to take on a modest degree of refinement. But you know what they say. “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

So I thought it might be interesting to ask a few questions that only country boys and girls could answer. Here goes.

Have you ever, while running barefooted, stepped on a rusty nail? According to my late mother it was a serious injury. And each episode was taken seriously.

Her children made few trips to the doctor, but tetanus shots and boosters were kept up to date. No one wanted to get “lockjaw.”

Have you ever stepped on a honeybee? Barefooted, of course. Any country boy or girl knows that the bee’s last act of defiance was to leave its stinger in its victim. So first the stinger had to come out. Then, some brave and selfless soul had to suck the venom out of a dirty foot. Next, you hoped a tobacco chewer was close by to apply a wad of chewed tobacco or some tobacco spit on the wound site to finish drawing out the poison.

Of course if no tobacco chewers were available, a paste of baking soda and water would finish the treatment. If handled properly, the stingee would be back to running full speed in no time.

And have you ever had an encounter with baby bumblebees? Which brings up another question. What do bumblebees find so attractive about those cedar corner posts in old barns? They return every year. In my many years, I have found mature bumblebees to be very tolerant. Not so with the juveniles.

When I was a boy, I was banging on an old gate post in the Brim Hollow one afternoon only to discover it was filled with baby bumblebees. They stung me 13 times. I have a healthy respect for those little boogers.

Have you ever been hit with a rotten egg? On God’s green earth there are few smells that are any worse. I would place rotten eggs right up there with skunk spray — but not quite. I have experienced direct hits by both. Rotten eggs make you want to lose your last meal. Skunk spray in the face makes you wish to slip into unconsciousness.

Have you ever, in the bare of foot, kicked a dry cow pile (cow patty) to discover it wasn’t all that dry? It was hard to explain to your mother why your toes had turned dark green.

Did you ever get flogged by a settin’ hen or spurred by a wicked rooster?

Pound-for-pound, a settin’ hen is one of nature’s most fearsome creatures.

Speaking of settin’ hens, have you ever reached up into a hen’s nest expecting to find an egg, and instead took hold of a chicken snake? Those slithering creatures look to be slick and slimy, but they feel another way — cold and grainy. It was one of the fastest “let goes” I ever experienced. That taught you to look before you grab.

Have you ever walked in a creek that ran with clear, spring water and felt the cool mud squish up between your toes, and watch those tiny-winged butterflies of blue and yellow revel in the cool of the creek bank as they dined on fresh cow poop?

Have you ever watched a tumble bug, resolute in his purpose, rolling his prize to its destination.

Or have you ever hauled hay or tobacco until your muscles ached and you could barely lift your arms at the end of the day, and then that night slept the sleep of the dead? It was the best “tired” I have ever known.

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