While interviewing my brother, Alan Pacholok, months ago about funny things he's experienced on the farm – so I could include those stories in the new book Fun On The Farm 3 – Alan told me about an encounter he had with a moose. I wrote the story and then decided it didn't quite fit for the Fun on the Farm book series. It seemed like the perfect story for a blog post. Enjoy!
|Two of my younger siblings, Alan and Leanne Pacholok (far left and far right),|
| laugh at the antics of some cousins during a Pacholok family reunion, 2015|
The farm I grew up on is in a forested region of central
Alberta on land that required my ancestors – and me as a kid – to clear away trees to create usable farmland. Wild animals, especially moose, are
My brother, Alan Pacholok, owns and operates that farm now and he has been known on many occasions to improvise in the
maintenance and repair of farm equipment and buildings. For decades, my sisters
and I have teased him that he’s a “duct tape and binder twine” kind of
This use of ingenuity and adaptability is common among farmers, who
have limited time in which to get their crops or cattle production accomplished
due to weather, finances, and distance from other resources. So farmers sometimes
have to make due with what is in the garage, barn, or vehicle just to get the
job done. It’s a skill every working farm kid learns early on.
One sunny Saturday afternoon in the late 1990s, my
brother was returning from a road trip he took to a farm near a neighbouring town, where
he had gone to do some prep work on a granary he’d purchased. As Alan drove back
towards our town, he saw a young moose stuck in a barbed wire fence that was beside the
Vehicles were passing by this scene and my brother did
too, but only for a split second before he turned his half-ton around, drove
into the ditch, and got out of his truck to peruse the situation.
This wasn’t the first time Alan had seen such a
predicament. He’d rescued a couple other moose from a similar fate before.
try to jump a barbed wire fence, Alan told me, their front feet go over the top
wire, but sometimes their back feet catch on the top wire, pushing it forward so
their feet go down in front of the second wire of a four-wire fence. That
second wire moves up with the force and acts as a lasso with the top wire,
trapping the animal in place.
This particular moose was trying frantically to move
ahead and was pulling on the wires, which were not budging. Alan knew
that without help, this animal would perish.
Unlike our dad, who enjoyed hunting in almost every year
that he could, my brother was never interested in this form of wild game. But this poor moose didn’t know that.
As Alan approached the frightened creature, he saw the
fear in the animal’s eyes. And those eyes only got bigger when Alan started up
the only utensil he could find in his truck – a power saw.
“The only tool we really had in the truck back then was a
tire wrench,” Alan said. “We never took tools in the truck and I didn’t need
them that day anyway. I had to take a couple two by sixes to Boyle to brace up
a granary I bought and look at how to haul it home. I just had a power saw to
cut the boards. To get this moose out of the fence, all I needed was a pair of
pliers to cut the wires or two rocks, but I couldn’t find those anyway. The
power saw was all I had,” Alan said with a grin.
“No nails, no wrenches, just one moose caught in the top
two wires of this fence,” which, coincidentally, happened to be on the property
of one of our uncles – but that’s rural Canada for you.
So, my brother grabbed his power saw and walked toward
the hung-up animal. Alan could see that the moose had been fighting to get free
for awhile before he arrived. The wires had rubbed some hair off its hind
ankles, but there weren’t any cuts on the animal’s legs, which was comforting
for both Alan and the moose.
By now, they had an audience. Several vehicles had
stopped on the highway and people were standing on the roadside, waiting to see
what this man in the pickup truck was planning to do with this 600-pound handy
bundle of Grade A moose meat.
With his power saw in hand, Alan stood as far away as
possible from the trapped moose – which was only about two feet given the
10-foot distance between fence posts and the mid-sized moose in the centre.
Alan tried to start his power saw. It made a quick, loud broooomm noise, and
The noise startled the moose. It squirmed faster and
tried harder to get away – with no success. It looked at Alan from the corner
of its bulging eyes.
Alan tried to start the power saw again – with no
Several times, Alan tried to start the saw. Each time,
the noise frightened the animal even more and its shaking intensified.
The moose kept turning its head toward the offending –
but possibly helping? – human at its side, no doubt wondering what would happen
Finally, Alan got the saw going and began to cut the
first wire. Sparks were flying everywhere, adding further to the moose’s fear
and the spectacle for the onlookers.
There were about a dozen vehicles stopped on the side of
the highway by this time. There was no mass use of cellphones or YouTube videos
in those days, just human eyeballs watching a man with a moose and a power saw.
After Alan cut through the first wire, it did not free
the moose, so Alan started sawing the second wire. The moose was still
desperately trying to get away.
Now there were about 20 vehicles on the side of the
highway, watching this commotion.
Alan finally got the second wire cut and the moose was
It walked away slowly, with a slight limp. “It kind of
looked back to thank me and was probably wondering if I was nuts, getting that
close to it… I had to do it because it was suffering,” Alan added. But
yes, there are those of us who would say Alan is a little crazy.
As the moose stopped shaking and regained some energy, it
slowly trotted further and then ran across the field. The bystanders drove away
and Alan put his power saw back in his truck and drove away as well, thinking
about the moose and the look in its eyes.
“As I was cutting those wires, the poor thing was
shaking. Later, I realized that probably everybody watching was laughing,
thinking, ‘What is he doing with the power saw?’ ... That poor moose didn’t think
it was funny.”
No, my brother will never forget that moose. “I think he
smiled at me. He was probably thinking, ‘Thanks for not turning me into a