"Dad, there's a possum in the chicken coop!" That's all it took. We threw on our shoes and coats as we ran to the barn. My dad turned on the barn light and went over to the tool wall. Carefully he examined his options to kill the poor thing. A shovel perhaps? Too unwieldy. A pitchfork? Messy. Ah, a sledgehammer. We then watched in awe, as our dad entered the chicken coop with his weapon of choice.
To our surprise and horror, we did not see one beady-eyed creature the size of a bulldog, but three. As we watched through the chicken wire from the goat milking stand, Dad hefted the sledgehammer onto his shoulder. Slam! Missed a possum. Wabam! He got one. The chickens sqaucked from their roosting positions in their front row seats, just five feet above the action.
Deftly, dad would hoist the sledgehammer again and again. Gradually, you could see the fatigue settling in. As he once again lifted the heavy tool, it became apparent this technique was not as effortless as we had originally suspected.
Down it came again, upon a villainous headhunter and lo, the sledgehammer broke into halves. We watched in awe as our hero panted. Two large possums stared at him and one lay unmoving at his feet. The four glittering black eyes reflected only calculation and greed as they glanced from Dad and his broken weapon to the roosting chickens above.
One of us grabbed a shovel from the wall, opened the door a crack, and slipped it through to Dad. Then rejoining the others on the milking stand, waited to see what a shovel could do to those fiends. Opening the tiny chicken door to the outside air, Dad then did his best to coax the possums outside. Eventually they left and he shoveled the fallen enemy into a garbage sack. The next morning we found another of the possums in a trap placed strategically in the nearby garden.
I will never forget the awesome sight of my father, lifting and swinging that sledgehammer.