Collecting Eggs with a Shotgun

“Boom!” went Ol’ Betsy, as I pulled both triggers of the double-barrel 12 gauge shotgun. The rats I was aiming at disappeared into thin air.

“Holy crap! Did you see that?” I asked my sister. “What?!” she yelled back at me. Both of us were a little deaf from the sound of the gun. “Where’d they go?” she asked. “I don’t know, but I don’t think they got away.”

Two rats had been in the corner trying to add to our consternation by increasing their population. We had entered the chicken house at that moment just to gather the eggs, but, well…timing is everything, I guess.

Meanwhile, all the chickens had fled to the other side of the building. They stared at us for a moment and then went back to pecking, cooing, and cackling. The amount of manure had increased slightly in that area for some reason, though.

We stood there for a few moments looking at the gaping hole in the back corner near the floorboards. Finally, I said, “I guess I should go find a piece of wood to nail over that.” “Yeah, probably,” was my sister’s reply. The corner where I had aimed and fired now had a jagged, new opening instead of a rough, closed look to it. We laughed, and then I added, “At least it worked.”

For weeks before that, the rat problem had been getting worse. The last straw came after I had shaken down the feeder and two rats jumped out instead of beautiful, golden chicken feed. That was when I had had enough.

It was one thing for the rats to live under the chicken house and mind their own business. That was fine. But when they started eating up the food that was for our livestock and taking baths in the buckets of water… oh, no… and then to scare us every day on top of that… yep, that was the last straw.

Yes, we had set poison for the rats, but instead of it killing them off, they just seemed to eat it like candy and stand around waiting for us to bring them another bag full.

When I realized that neither the poison nor the traps were working, I did what any 14-year old kid would do out in the country on a farm – I got creative. I started taking different kinds of sticks with me to the chicken house, but they proved to be either too short to reach or too long to swing.

So, I moved on to a bullwhip. That worked sort of okay, but it mostly just made the rats mad instead of taking them out of the picture. Next, my souped-up slingshot worked pretty good, as long as got ‘em square in the head, otherwise the rocks deflected and wound up hitting the chickens instead.

What to do…What to do? After thinking about my options for a while, it finally hit me. I went to the closet and pulled out a shotgun. It was a .410 single bolt action. My aim was good, but the pellets just seemed to bounce off the rats’ hide as they ran and ducked into their holes. And I wasn’t fast enough to unload the empty shell, reload, and get off another shot before they had scattered and run for cover.

That week, I happened to be down at my aunt’s house visiting and told her what was going on. A twinkle appeared in her eyes and an innocent, yet devious, grin spread across her face.

She said, “You could always borrow the 12-gauge if you like. Of course, it’s a bit more powerful than the .410, but if you use it right, it should do the trick.” “Can I?” “Sure. Just be careful.”

She handed it to me, along with a few shells. The smell of oil, use, old leather, and previous hunting trips poured off of the gleaming cylinders of steel and filled my nose. As I carried it home that evening, I decided that “Ol’ Betsy” seemed like a fitting name.

My approach to finding a solution to the rat problem seemed a bit eccentric – according to some other people I told at the time – but they weren’t the ones getting their feet overrun by hungry rats. And, it worked.

We weren’t afraid to go collect eggs anymore, after that. Every afternoon we exited the chicken house victorious with a shotgun in one hand and a basketful of eggs in the other.

# # #
This story was adapted from one of my upcoming books.  To read ones currently published, go to .



Trevor and the Dark Rider – Chap 2

Ch 2 – Back to School

“Trevor, are you awake, yet? You’re going to be late for school!”

“Uhhh,” came Trevor’s response, but he stayed in bed not moving. He realized he was clutching his left shoulder and that he had been dreaming again.

A minute later, his mom yelled again, “Trevor!”

“Ok. Ok. I’m awake. Getting up.”

As he sat up in bed, a copy of Medieval History fell to the floor.

“I guess I fell asleep reading again,” he said to himself as he picked up the book. “This one was pretty good. I’ll have to look for other ones online.”

He laid the book on his bed and got up.

I hate school. It’s so dumb and boring. And nobody would even miss me if I didn’t go, he thought.

Muttering to himself hopefully, “Well, maybe Rachel would miss me, but I don’t know. She been pretty interested in Pockets lately….so…whatever…if that’s what she wants.” He stopped and asked, “Why am I talking to myself?”

He stumbled downstairs to make himself breakfast. He was glad that gravity worked so well to pull him down the stairs every day, because he definitely was not a morning person and would rather have stayed right there in bed for a while.

After few minutes with a bowl of cereal, he went back upstairs to get ready. After showering and grabbing the closest available clothes, he rubbed some gel over his brown hair.

Wet brown looks black. Dry brown looks tannish. Weird, he thought. Walking into his bedroom, he grabbed his book bag and went back downstairs.

“Oh, there now. You look perfectly ready for your sophomore year,” his mom said with a big smile. Mrs. McKay was a morning person, so she was almost always cheery before he was.

He looked at her with a sarcastic grin, tilted his head slightly to the right and said, “Yay, me.”

“Wow. With an attitude like that, you’ll probably have an awful, rotten day,” she said over top of her laptop on the living room couch.

“Mom!” came a pleading, surprised response.

“Well, you’re the one moping around like you lost a finger or something.”

“I’m just not looking forward to it – that’s all,” Trevor said sheepishly.

“Relax; smile; and be yourself. Everything will be fine. Besides, your teachers and the other students probably don’t want to go back any more than you do.”

He grinned, “We’ll all just be grumpy together, then.”

“Yeah; that works too, I guess. Hey, I’ll take a picture and message it to Dad since he already left this morning.”

Mr. McKay had to be at work by 7:30, so he usually left before Trevor was up or fully awake.

She snapped few pics and said, “That looks very nice. Now, go on before you’re late for walking with Pockets.”

Just then the front door opened, and Pockets walked in.

“Looks like I already am,” Trevor said, glancing back at his mom.

“Good morning, Pockets,” said Mrs. McKay.

“Morning, Mrs. McKay.” Then looking at Trevor he said, “I thought I’d come by and make sure Sleeping Beauty was awake and ready to go.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m ready. Bye, Mom.”

She stopped them, “Wait. Let me take a picture of you two together.”

“Mom! We’re gonna be late!”

“It’ll only take a second,” she said.

“Smile for your momma, Trevor,” Pockets chided.

“You’re not helping,” Trevor told his friend.


Pockets flashed a gigantic Cheshire cat smile, while Trevor faked a grin with annoyed eyes.

“There! Perfect….thank you, Pockets.”


“I’m going to school now. Bye, Mom.”

“Bye, Mrs. McKay,” Pockets added.

“Bye, guys. Have a good day. And tell Rachel hello.”

“We will.”

Trevor and Pockets had been best friends since Kindergarten. They had gone to school together every year, gotten skinned knees together, gotten in trouble together, and had gone on trips with each other’s family. Now, they were going through the strangest adventure they had ever been through together: high school.

Walking to school, Pockets asked, “So, how hard was it for you to wake up this morning?”

Trevor grinned and answered, “I’m awake?”

Pockets laughed.

“Man, I can stay up late with no problem…It’s the getting up early part that stinks.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

“Whatever… You’re the guy who actually likes 6 a.m.!”

Pockets defended himself, “I can’t help it…I’m an early bird…always have been.”

“It’s a curse, you know.”

“No it’s not… you just don’t appreciate sunrises!”

Trevor said jokingly, “Sunrise, sunset, they’re basically the same…you’re just looking different directions.”

“Ok, but you were up early a bunch of times this summer.”

“Yeah. So?

“So, why don’t you wake up early during the school year?”

“No man, that’s totally different. That’s more a thing of having to get up ‘cause we have to go to school versus wanting to get up ‘cause we’re gonna go do somethin’ fun.”

“Now you sound like Ms. Noland.”

“The Psych teacher?”

“Yes, Einstein, the psych teacher,” came from a voice behind the two boys.

“Rachel!” they replied at the same time.

“Good morning! You guys said you were gonna wait for me at the corner.”

The two boys’ mouths dropped open as they looked at each other and tried to play it off.

“Oh yeah. Uh, we forgot,” replied Trevor sheepishly.

“Sorry,” Pockets offered.

“We got caught up in talking about sweet, sweet summer time and forgot to stop walking while we were talking,” Trevor continued.

“Okay. Okay,” said Rachel, trying to redirect the conversation.

All three were excited that they were not Freshmen anymore in school, but they knew that more was riding on this year than last. They also knew it meant they were a year closer to graduating.

A couple of their friends, James and Paige, had moved away last year, and some others had graduated. So, their immediate circle of connections had shrunk to just the three of them. Sure, they had lots of other acquaintances and distant friends, but their closest circle had gotten pretty small. Trevor had tried to make light of the situation back in July, but Rachel didn’t think his comment of “At least it’s manageable…” was very funny. So, she was determined to expand their group by getting to know some other people better this year.

When Pockets challenged her reasoning, Rachel’s reply was simple, “I am the only girl, so we need to expand.”

Pockets and Trevor just looked at her, confused.

She replied, “What? If we’re gonna take on the world someday, we can’t do it by ourselves. We at least need a couple of other people we can hang out with.”

“Heard anything from Paige?” Pockets asked.

“Why? Still got those puppy eyes for her?” she replied.

“No! I mean, ‘I never did!’ I was just asking if you had heard anything from her,” he tried to answer without sounding like a total idiot.

Trevor and Rachel chuckled.

“Relax. Yes, she emailed me last night, in fact, wishing us all a happy first day of school,” Rachel answered.

Trevor followed up with a sarcastic, “First day wishes… oh, how sweet.”

“Shut up,” he said to Trevor.

Rachel cut in, “Seriously though, after 4th period, let’s all meet at the patio tables for lunch as soon as possible.”

“Would I ever eat with anybody else?” Pockets asked, mockingly.

They looked at Pockets and said at the same time, “Yes!”

Just then, the ten-minute warning bell rang on campus.

“That’s our cue,” Rachel said excitedly as she headed to her class.

Loads of fun,” Trevor added.

“See ya,” said Pockets.

To buy a copy of Trevor and the Dark Rider: