Binky and Toodles: A Frontier Saga

This spring break, my family finally murdered Binky and Toodles.

Binky and Toodles are my New Mexico farming family’s once-cherished buffalo. (I hesitated until now to tell the story of Binky and Toodles because I did not know the plural for the word “buffalo.” Now that I know the plural is “buffalo” or “buffalos” or “buffaloes,” I feel that I can competently tell their tale.)

My father christened the buffalo Binky and Toodles when they came to live with us in August of 2005. Binky and Toodles were shaggy and large. They had long matted hair and big angry faces. At the end of this post, find a picture of Binky (or perhaps it is Toodles) eating our grass.

My father and mother bought Binky and Toodles to develop our character. To my parents, developing character means shoveling things out of buffalo pens. Shoveling things makes you morally strong, so we shoveled things for Binky and Toodles. We picked hay bales up out of our field and stacked them high in our barn and took them out every day and fed them to Binky and Toodles and then shoveled everything Binky and Toodles produced, and we grew into men and women of strong moral fiber.

We learned responsibility and stick-to-it-iveness. We learned courage in the face of great danger, especially when our neighbor declared that he never entered a buffalo pen without arming himself to the teeth — to put himself out of his misery in case the wild animal charged. Indeed, Toodles (or it could have been Binky) made two attempts at escape, but we found an inner strength in the face of this fearful disaster.

Two years went by, and having by now quite grown up into men and women of strong moral fiber, we questioned the continued utility of housing, feeding and shoveling for Binky and Toodles. We began to secretly wonder if our father and mother had formed a sort of attachment to the great beasts, perhaps to console themselves as we one by one left their small farm for the big city of Hillsdale. My parents denied any untoward fondness for Binky and Toodles, but still the bovids remained, hale and hearty and chomping down hay and producing large piles to shovel.

Then my little sister Lizzy pitifully requested the demise of the buffalo for a Christmas present. My father hesitated and hedged … until he calculated the hay bill for Binky and Toodles. Then he made a short call to the butcher’s, loaded Binky and Toodles into the trailer, and bid them a tender goodbye.

Our freezer is now full of Binky and Toodles, all resting in peace and chopped up into hamburger. (We considered using every hair, hoof and horn of the beasts, as the thrifty Native Americans did in pioneer days, but we found that coats made of buffalo hair are not still in style.)

We hear that buffalo meat is considered exotic in the big city. We at least find it costly — not just in the tears, sweat and blood of a true frontier family, but also in hay bales. My parents, in fact, are beginning to wonder if there is an easier way to grow men and women of strong moral fiber. (Raising chickens, perhaps?) I close the saga of Binky and Toodles with the fervent prayer that their spirits are now loping free in the Happy Hunting Grounds of the Great Spirit of Strong Moral Fiber, in the Big Western Sky.

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~ by stultiloquence on April 4, 2007.

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