Friday, January 22, 2010

excitement on the hill

We were watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night, woodstove gallantly attempting to warm the house with mostly wet wood, all the chores of the day and evening behind us. Daughter was on one sofa wrapped in a blanket, and I was on another. Husband generating his own heat, apparently, as he was on the bare floor with no blanket much of the time!

Daughter suddenly asked, "what is that noise?"

Husband answered, "the cats."

I hadn't heard anything but then my husband exclaimed and when I looked, Dickens Edward Wickens was walking through the living room holding a live bright red cardinal in his mouth. The bird was squeaking repeatedly.

Husband removed the bird and found that while it had been injured somewhat, it seemed not to be too bad. He decided to drive the bird a little ways away from our house and release it where hopefully none of our quite interested cats would find it.

At that point, all the resident felines were circling with big eyes.

Husband went down to the garage and the squeak squeak squeak continued until he got in the car.

When he let the bird go, it flew away, so we are hoping he heals and lives on.

I can't quite believe that late on a cold, rainy night, Dickens managed to capture a cardinal. The entire scenario was quite surreal and I don't think I'll ever be able to watch the movie without thinking of the dramatic entrance, vocal bird, and circling cats.

Today the rain stopped except for a very occasional misting, and I took off all blankets, throwing grooming caution to the wind, and let the horses into the back field, with access to the arena in case they wanted to get out of the mud.

Rafer and Redford had donkey derby practice, Cody and Redford had a re-match, they all went at the load of fallen firewood I gathered as if I had hand-picked it just for them to chew the bark off, and I served as master gate opener from the arena to the back field while I did some much-needed arena grooming. They were like cats deciding whether to go out or stay in.

Other than the extreme mud, it was a lovely day. Perfect temp for working without sweat, and although it would have been nice to have some sunshine, the muted landscape was soothing and peaceful.

I have to say: after dealing with Cody's hind end stiffness and finally finding the right diet and supplement for him, it was pure pleasure to watch him cavorting with Redford, matching Redford's feints and quick tiny turns without problem. The Quarter Horse talent for working cattle was apparent, and even if we never need Cody to do that job, it was wonderful seeing that he's healthy and feeling good enough to move so well.

Tomorrow - one day of respite from the rain! And then it's back for Sunday and Monday.


Claire said...

cats will always be murderers of wildlife given the opportunity!

billie said...

Wow! I don't think of Dickens as a murderer, but as a predator doing what predators do.

Grey Horse Matters said...

The evening must have been quite interesting. Your husband was right, the racket was the cat! Hope the cardinal heals quickly and stays safe and away. He had quite a scare.

Cody sounds like he's doing really well. I know how grateful I am when one of our horses is doing better because of the care we give them. Of course, the rest of the gang sounds like they are having a good time as usual. Stay dry.

ponymaid said...

Billie, your post gave me quite a turn. When you mentioned that Dickens returned in possession of a cardinal I was afraid he had catnapped a high-ranking member of the Anglican church. There would have been terrible repercussions from the clerical world. Dickens,in typical cat fashiion, would have left you with all the explaining and watched with interest as you were carted off. Is he still angry about the rejection of his gift bird?

Anonymous said...

That's an amazing story - of all the birds my cats have caught over time none have been a cardinal - Fluffy, one of the cats I had before going to Saudi (a rescue who just moved into my garage one day) had a bird in her mouth one time and I charged her and said, "Drop it! You have plenty of food now!" and when she opened her mouth two birds flew away! I was absolutely stunned.

Both of my cats hunt - birds, mice, chipmunks - the smart ones learn, and even play with them, and the others get eaten or killed. Bowser caught a barn swallow in each paw in an amazing feat of acrobatics - both got away, of course. And really, Dickens may have just been showing off, if the bird was mostly unharmed. ;)

Always a joy to learn that ahorse is making progress to full health - that is so awesome about Cody!

billie said...

Arlene, it's been a journey with Cody and I'm not saying we're completely out of the woods, but I think we're mostly there!

billie said...

Sheaffer, LOL! It would be just like Dickens to go catnap an actual Cardinal and bring down the entire Roman Catholic church upon my head!

He seems to have recovered, although he is trying to rip the access door off my hot tub/bath b/c there apparently was a mouse in there. (we found a few mouse droppings)

As if he doesn't have his hands full with Redford!

billie said...

Wendy, the two birds flying out of your cat's mouth is the best cat/bird story I've heard! Wow!

It's difficult to strike a balance in terms of living with domesticated predators. We want Dickens to keep mice out of the barn and house, and while I don't want him hunting songbirds, how can I draw the line for him?

It's a law of nature, unfortunately, that some animals will be hunted and killed by others.