Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Episode of Gallantry

By G. LaVerne Crowell

The dawn broke crystal clear, not a wisp of white to be observed anywhere.  At seven a.m. in the morning the temperature had just cleared 90 degrees.  It was July 4th in beautiful, bountiful Arizona.  Arizona, it should be noted at this time, abounds with wildlife of every type.  One of the more graceful and pleasant species of this wildlife is a midsize quail.  They are lovingly referred to as "Desert Quail" by local residents.  "Desert Quail" are somewhat prolific during the spring, summer, and fall, producing between five and 20 offspring per family.  Though this may seem to be a rather large family, it must be noted at this point that "Desert Quail" are a favorite dish with Mr. Coyote.  And, due to their size, one is not a main course.

In order to further provide stage sets for this episode, it most be brought to your attention that in the Spring of this year, a four foot trench was excavated behind our trailer.  This trench was being prepared for the installation of new electric, water, and phone lines.  The trench was constructed in a manner to allow dirt to be piled high between it and the fence.  The width of this trench was approximately 18 to 24 inches.

At this stage of the story, we must return to the original date above.  I was outside enjoying the lovely morning and tending to various farm chores of feeding the chickens and watering the crop.  The terms "chickens" and "crop" are to be translated as "doves and quail" and "grass".  During these duties a family of desert quail penetrated the rear fence and proceeded to venture toward the feeding area.  This particular family was within the normal size of approximately 15 young and two loving parents.  The young quail were new hatched and appeared to match the size of a fifty cent coin.  Imagine if you can a feather of that size with two toothpicks protruding down.  This should paint a realistic mental photograph of the young.

The loving parents proceeded over the three foot mound of dirt and across the trench with graceful ease.  However, the rest of the family, being a bit smaller and not as sure footed, proceeded to drop into the construction trap with vigor, until not one small one was out of the trench.  Mother quail immediately recognized the situation as one requiring emergency response.  She proceeded to produce extensive noise as only would be emitted by a quail in such a situation.  She then jumped into the trench itself in an attempt to teach the young how easy escape would be.  Having failed in her attempt at instructing the young in the art of trench escaping, she again flew out and continued the proclaim the emergency with great gusto.

The mother quail's insistent proclamation reached my impaired ears and I immediately recognized some sort of emergency situation was unfolding.  I proceeded to the scene of the tragic event and observed the threat.  With my extensive military training I perceived the proper action that needed to be taken.  I immediately informed higher headquarters (Joyce) of the situation.  As anyone of the human race knows, female emergency response is highly developed.  Joyce re conned the scene and immediately called Carol.  At this time an emergency response team was formed, trained, and dispatched to the scene.

It needs to be noted at this point that my condition did not allow for mobilization in construction sites.  (And no I was not intoxicated!)  The construction trench behind the trailer was designed for approximately 20 feet of length and then dirt dams placed to avoid cave in possibilities.  It should also be noted that these small single feathers with toothpicks are designed to navigate 20 feet in just under three nano seconds. 

The emergency response team entered the trench at this time in an attempt to assist the speeding bullets in escape.  As anyone involved in emergency response teams knows, speeding bullets are not easily assisted in any direction.  Carol positioned herself toward one end of the trench, Joyce at the other.  Now imagine a trench constructed of marble and polished.  Place 15 droplets of mercury in the bottom and attempt to extricate the same.  This might bring to your mind a similar scene as to the happenings with our situation at the moment.

The emergency response team rapidly learned that these droplets were not designed for easy capture.  An immediate change in technology provided a plan to scoop the droplets out rather  than waste moments in capture attempts.  Human hands can to placed as to resemble a grain scoop shovel with some imagination.  However, one must also understand to  scoop grain is much easier than droplets of mercury.  As the scooping procedure was initiated, mother quail was assisting as best she could.  Verbally that is!  The scooping procedure began to accomplish the team’s mission.  The mission was compounded somewhat by the fact that each droplet was required to reenter the trench at least twice before finally reaching the fence and proceeding through it to mom and dad quail.

The entire procedure, from an overview, was not unlike watching bears in Alaska attempting to scoop fish out of a roaring stream.  The main exception might be that you would have to increase the film speed approximately to Mach 1.  The thought occurred to me at the time, and it is heard, to various exercise professionals, that this might prove a very good form of exercise for anyone!  Needless to say ‑ after 15 minutes or so of this mission in full progress, the mission was fulfilled.

It now has been several weeks since this episode.  There have been no other incidents requiring the reactivation of the emergency response team involved.  It has been heard from street talk around that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been studying and conferencing regarding this incident.  It was said that they ( FEMA) have never enabled such a team to respond with such swiftness and efficiency, let alone actually completing the mission!  Hollywood was considering movie rights etc to the incident, however, after much consideration, it was concluded that such short movies ended popularity around 1894.


Several sittings ‑ believed to be of this quail family ‑ have been made lately.  Most of the young have survived and all appear to be doing well.  The young are now approximately 7/8 grown.  It is hoped that grandchildren and great grandchildren will remember this touching story about nature.