Monday, October 13, 2014

Wild Backyard Adventures

Today was one of those beautiful autumn Sundays that demands you spend as much time outside as possible. The weather was a mild 60 degrees, the sun was shining and the leaves were on full display.

Too lazy to clean out the garden, I decided to take the cat outside. Otis begs to go outside all day and all night. I only let him out in the yard supervised, because he has a history of running away.  I regularly took him with me when working in my garden this summer, since it was infested with voles. Otis caught several this summer.

As soon as I took him out, it was clear that hunting was on his mind. He took a few swats at a butterfly and I stopped him. I like butterflies. Catch the vermin.  

After taking inventory of the landscaping around the house, Otis trotted out to the garden while I watched from my covered patio.

Cats are extremely patient. I could tell when he found something interesting. He leaped toward something, missed, then lay low in the grass. Occasionally I would see the white on his nose as he looked at me, then buried in the grass at whatever he was watching. He was a cat on the job!

The dog next door woofed a few times, then looked at the grass to see if she could find anything. Otis ignored her, although the dog was a mere six feet away. Otis is not threatened by the dog next door anymore. He barely acknowledges her, although the dog seems to want to be friends.  

I started to get bored, thought maybe I should clean the debris out of the garden. I contemplated where to put the tomato plants since I didn’t want them in my compost.

I nearly walked over there, to the garden, but then I saw Otis tense again, his shoulders curved in that cat stalking prey kind of way. I stopped my approach and ran back to the patio. I knocked on the patio door for my husband to unlock it in case I have to run inside when the cat finds something and brings it to me. Because that is what cats do, they bring you their prizes. Otis likes to catch, but does not like to kill.

My husband thinks I am crazy. That is nothing new. He did unlock the door.

Then it happened. Otis leaped and caught a vole in his mouth. He must have hit the mother lode, because he continued leaping around the grass, but only had one mouth. He did not let go his charge. At this moment, I was cursing that he is declawed. He might have taken out more than one vole this afternoon.

As predicted, he jogged toward the patio with his prize, still alive and wiggling while dangling from his mouth. I am inside the house now, hollering at my husband to get a bucket.

I noted that my 12 year old son is more swift and better prepared to collect rodents the cat caught. In previous scenarios, my son quickly appears in the back yard with a shovel and a 5 gallon pail from the garage. He then takes the catch to the ravine across the street while making no contact with the injured rodent. My husband took forever to appear again, giving Otis plenty of chances to let the vole go on my patio, then, thankfully, catch it again. I got a little worried about that. One got away this summer, and now lives by my patio.

Husband finally arrived armed with a small bucket and a dowel. Seems a risky choice, but I needed the rodent removed right now. I eyed that small bucket and asked if he wanted a lid. He said no, staring at it for awhile, wondering what to do.  He ended up driving away with a vole in a small bucket in his car. Again, not a choice I would make, but at least the thing is no longer in my yard.

One more down. Otis has been begging to go out for another round all afternoon. Can’t say I haven’t been tempted to let him.

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