The Day Old Ned Learned to Fly

This one is “based on my father’s viewing of a flying lesson given to a Percheron, owned by my grandfather, when a tornado tore their ranch apart in 1899.”

It was a hot August, late summer, 1899,
and things on the 2BarH were going right fine.

My father was a young feller just pushing nine years.
And getting his first learning about horses and steers.

The 2BarH, truth be told, was more farm than ranch
As grandpa ploughed 400 acres on Codeaway Branch.

That Saturday afternoon, grandma was using a wooden spoon
To stir up an apple pie when grandpa shouted, pointing up to the sky,

As it turned black and a roaring twister touched down
And where outhouse had stood was just a hole in the ground.

2 hired hands, six kids, grandpa and wife in the storm cellar
listening to the big whirlwind rip, snort, shreik, and beller.

My Dad put his eye to a crack in the storm cellar door
to watch the barn fly away leaving nothing but plank floor.

In the corral, riding horses and the Percherons Nell and Ned
Had watched the storm a coming with terror and dread.

Old Ned, a placid, gentle fellow weighing up near a ton,
Had got kind of owly when he saw what the twister had done

And started off at a Percheron trot when the wind made a decision
To pick him up gently and with studied simple precision

Teach Old Ned the basics of introductory flight.
First it was level flying and then gentle turns to the right.

As he made a trip around what had been barnyard,
With the wind keeping it simple, nothing really hard,

And then came basics of rapid ascent and up Old Ned went
Like a bottle rocket as gently he spun in the tornado’s pocket.

The twister observin’ closely how well Ned had done
Next taught him spins and a hundred feet off the ground he spun.

Then with practiced ease that twisted ornery wind
Decided that it was about time for the lesson’s end

But first Old Ned needed to learn about acrobatic flight
So a simple barrel roll, a loop the loop and a hard wing over to the right

Followed by inverted-that’s upside down-descent to just off the ground
And an approach stall that left Ned deposited gently on a mound

Of barn shoveling and stable sweepings flat on his back
All four feet in the air and leaning against the tool shack.

Well that feisty wind had rearranged the 2BarH just a might
But the house was untouched and the cattle were all right.

It took grandpa quite a while to get Ned upright;
Even with Nell comin’ over and helpin’ with a nip and a bite.

In a week or two Ned was pretty much him self once again,
That is until he was pulling a wagon and it started to rain.

When the wind proceeded to blow and frisk up quite a bit
He simply laid down and started blowing bubbles and spit.

To Ned it was obvious it was same as that August day
And he was convinced the wind was coming back to say

He was slated for advanced flight training, to ascend like before
So Old Ned laid down. He didn’t want to fly any more.

He laid there ’til the rain and the wind were past, shivering
And ’til his dying day, when rains came, he was a short ton of quivering

Great big gentle horse who, against his will, had learned to fly
Four years before the Wright brothers made their first try.

© 2011, Dale “Doc” Hayes. All Rights Reserved