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The other day someone who had read one of my recent columns about my mishaps over the years with animals observed that it sounded like my horses had been rough on me.

The other day someone who had read one of my recent columns about my mishaps over the years with animals observed that it sounded like my horses had been rough on me.

I told him that was nothing compared to growing up with three older brothers. Between my desire to be "one of the guys" and their brotherly instincts to torment their little sister, plenty of bumps and bruises resulted.

Most of memories involve my brother Richard because he was nearest in age to me. My other two brothers were 10 and 11 years older, respectively so I didn't hang around them as much.

Richard wasn't guilty, though, of causing one of my worst scrapes - from which I still bear the scars. That one happened because I decided I was old enough to ride the boys' big bike instead of my little one.

Predictably, I fell off.


But it wasn't the fall that caused the injury. It was the location - the prickly spirea bushes next to the driveway by our house. I was sailing along pretty well until I tried to negotiate a curve, lost my balance and fell headlong into the bushes.

I pulled out slivers from my side for a good month afterwards and have an inch-long scar where a large piece of the bush was imbedded.

'Innocent' bystander

Another of the incidents that I've never lived down is the time I thought I would impress Richard and jump on my pony from behind like they did in the westerns we loved to watch on television.

I practiced for days until I got it right, then called him and my mom outside to watch my great feat.

As fate would have it, my pony Flicka lost her patience during my performance. I was in mid-air, poised to fly over her rump unto her back when she caught me with both back feet in the breadbasket.

As I laid on my back gasping for breath, Richard looked down at me and said with a smile "That was a good trick, Ann."

Another time that I found myself flat on back, he did get blamed for. I had come galloping through the yard on Flicka and he stepped out from behind a tree just as we flew by.


Flicka caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of his eye and veered violently to the left. I wasn't ready for her quick change of direction and flew off of the other side. As I stared up at Richard he asked with an innocent smile on his face "What scared Flicka?"

Strength in numbersIf there's anyone more mischievous, though, than an older sibling teasing a younger one, it's got to be three older ones teasing three younger.

That happened each summer when my four cousins from Montana visited. Two of them were about my brother's age and two of them, my age.

One of the annual summer rituals was for the older trio to tie us younger kids together in the hayloft. They became experts at placing us near the edge of a large stack of hay so that if we struggled too much while trying to untie ourselves, we risked falling over the edge. Meanwhile, we were too far from the house for an adult to hear our screams.

Adults never heard us, either, when our older siblings decided that locking us in the empty steel grain bin also was a fitting punishment for pesky little kids.

Fortunately, the older trio eventually got tired of their games, and after watching and listening to our pleas of help for a while, would free us.

Older, but not wiserKnowing that I would eventually be freed, though, never gave me much solace when Richard locked me in the chicken house with the crabby rooster.

Though I knew it wouldn't do any good, I still screamed and pounded on the door until, after enjoying a good laugh, he relented and let me out.


I hate to admit that the hen house incidences occurred when I was in my 20s and no spring chicken myself. But it just goes to show that, once a little sister, always a little sister.

Ann Bailey writes for Prairie Country. Reach her at (701) 787-6753, (800) 477-6572, ext. 753 or e-mail her at abailey@gfherald.com

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