The Latest Report on Sir Richard’s death toll

Sir Richard the Destroyer is a killing machine. He has a spot out in front of the barn, where the septic mound’s long grass folds over the mesh of fence panel and makes a lovely tunnel for rodents, and here he sits, watching these little holes. He waits.

IMG_5343He doesn’t need to hide. He can sit in the long grass and barely be seen, a ninja. Often, I will catch a glimpse of him leaping from one spot to another, or just see the black tip of his tail twitching while he pokes around in the grass for whatever he is tormenting now.

About three weeks ago, he brought us his first Dead Rodent Gift. We came home from running errands to find him sitting at the bottom of the house steps, proudly displaying his mauled victim at his feet.

I showered him with praise and affection in return. He doesn’t know that DRGs are not the best gifts for humans. He had gone to all that effort to catch and kill the thing, and then he had decided that he wouldn’t keep it for himself. Sharing is caring, after all. That, and I want him to be motivated to hunt. We live in the countryside, in a nation where it is normal to have space under your house for things to live, and if he can keep the population down, that would be smashing.

It would also be good to keep the mouse and bird levels in our barns to a minimum, so Richard’s hunting skills are always met with love and adoration from me.

Then a few days later, he brought me another DRG. This one actually made it into the house with him, as he tricked me into opening the door for him before I realised he had it. He took it to the spare bathroom, where I feed him. I wondered what on earth he was messing with for a moment, before I heard – before I heard the little rodent corpse explode. When I went to investigate, already despairing at what I would find, he looked up at me cheerfully. He batted at the body a couple of times as if to demonstrate what a good killer he is.

“Yes, good kitten,” I said, trying not to vomit at the smell of rodent bile. To show my appreciation, I wrapped the corpse in paper and threw it out, and then bleached everything.

IMG_6051Richard brought three or four DRGs back last week. Cowboy sent me a photo of the first one, and updated the death toll when I got home a few days later.

Nowhere was safe. When I went to the bathroom, a toy mouse would be shoved under the door to entertain me while I flossed. The dog’s bed was decorated with Walmart cat toys – tiny, luminous coloured mice that have been chewed and thrown about so much that they just look like neon blobs now. Richard mapped out the best spots in the house to survey both the interior and exterior landscape for potential prey.

Inevitably, he would resume his little outpost by the septic mound fence. His patience is enviable. I can’t spend that much time focusing on one thing without losing a piece of my mind in the process. Most human beings these days can’t sit for that long without checking Facebook at least eighteen times. Richard would just wait.

Last weekend he upped his DRG game. He brought his treasure to the door and knocked. He literally knocks on the door when he wants to come inside. I peered through the glass to see what he was doing. He knocks a little differently when he has a DRG. My suspicions were confirmed: we had a body.

I didn’t open the door. We were heading out to the barn and I decided dealing with the ritual of praise would wait a moment longer. I faffed about, and finally was ready to go outside. I informed Cowboy about the fatality in the porch.

“Are you sure? It’s not there now.” He looked around, shaking his head. “I don’t see it. Sure it was dead?”

“Quite sure,” I said. I checked for myself, but the DRG had vanished. Perhaps Richard had eaten it. I pulled on my left boot. I went to pull on my right boot. My foot touched something small and soft and still slightly warm. I said “OH AHAHAHA EEWWnnnnnngh… Nooooo…”

“Mouse?” Cowboy said, grinning. I tipped my boot up.  *whomp*

IMG_6140It landed on the mat. I sighed. “Yes, good kitten…” The body was disposed of again. I uttered several phrases of disbelief that Richard had gone to the trouble of putting it in my boot. The boot is taller than him. He would have had to deliberately pick it up, stand up on his hind feet, and drop it into the boot.

Well, this evening I checked in with Cowboy on the phone. We covered the usual stuff, and I listened as he threatened Richard with death for chewing on his phone cable. Then he remembered the important news.

“You might want to get new Muck Boots,” he said.

“Me? They’re new. What happened?”

“I’ve pulled out a few more dead things from them the last couple of days. You’d better check ’em when you go to put them on this weekend.”

I feel so loved.

Life fusion

It has been Sunday today. OK, it is still Sunday for another five hours, but by tea time on a Sunday, the day has essentially reached its peak and the only thing left to do is have a big cup of tea, some sort of supper (maybe soup based), and watch a detective drama for two hours.

Today the sun was out, which was a glorious respite after what seemed like a month of rain. It was really only about three or four days, but when Cowboy is working outside all of the time, it can get a little wearing when it is so wet. I was ready to just hibernate until Spring.

This morning, however, the sun turned all of the cherry tree branches a lovely gold colour, and it wasn’t cold at all. The gigantic lake in the round pen was just a large puddle, and the brown mush outside the barn had firmed up reasonably well. I also found this video of Sergei Polunin dancing, and it made me giddy with glee. All in all, it was a good start to the day.

I had a sudden brainwave while I was frying eggs for Cowboy’s breakfast. Perhaps the Six Nations rugby matches would be on Youtube. At the very least, the highlights would be on there somewhere. A quick searched revealed that some kind soul had posted the entire Wales vs England game on Youtube. I dithered, unsure whether it was wise to get stuck in to such a British thing at this hour.

“You putting the Rugby on?” Cowboy asked.

“No!” I said, gaily rushing back to the eggs. He had caught me in the act of Britain-lusting. “Just looking.”

“Oh. Well, you should.” He sat down to breakfast. “And if we’re going to watch the rugby, you’d just as well make me a cup of tea to go with it.”

That is how the day kicked off (pun completely and unashamedly intended). We watched the whole match, and I did my best to explain the rules to him. Some of them might have been made up, but I think he believed me. He even thought it was the sort of game that he could really get into if he watched some more and learned some more about it. With the entire Six Nations coming up, I’m sure that can be arranged.

After breakfast, our neighbour stopped in and asked for our help. One of his cows had calved, and he needed us to tag the ear of the newborn for him. Armed with our muck boots, we went over to his farm, where I duly took hold of the tagging pliers, crawled under a barbed wire fence, and watched Cowboy grab the little one firmly by her legs and show me the spot in her ear. One good squeeze on the pliers, and my first hands-on activity relating to cattle was complete. Maybe one day I’ll be a real country girl! Ha… Ha ha ha… My cat is more country savvy than I am.

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Sir Richard, the gate keeper.

After a quick lunch (a coronation chicken sandwich, because that’s one of those odd British things that I didn’t realise I would miss so much, followed by the last handful of Smarties (British ones)), I saddled my horse and we learned about rope. She knows about rope already. I had no idea what to do with it.

“So, you know when you’re branding…” Cowboy started, trying to explain. I could only stare at him. He put his hand on my knee apologetically. “You don’t know at all, do you?”

“Nope! City girl.”

My education was swift and practical. Rope and reins in one hand, the other working to control my dallies on the saddle horn (teehee, if I say the right words, it sounds like I know what I’m talking about), Sunshine and I dragged the round pen with a mini harrow contraption. For just a moment, I didn’t feel like a completely useless dressage rider.

Part of it, as Cowboy pointed out when we were done, was that we were both focused on the task at hand. Pull the thing. Rather than fuss with my reins or micromanage her, I had to look back at the thing I was pulling, and just move Sunshine where she needed to be to pull the thing. She didn’t need to be perfect. For her, she probably didn’t know exactly what I was asking most of the time, but she also knew that we were pulling a thing, and so long as we were still pulling the thing, she was probably doing the right thing.

I felt her self-confidence coming through, as she patiently ignored the horse in training who was freaking out on the other side of the panels because he thought we were pulling a thing that would eat him. He freaked out three times. She ignored him and stuck to her job three times. She chose pulling the thing where it needed to be pulled over avoiding the puddle (because she’s a bit funny about water). When we had been warming up, she had deftly stepped around the water every time I had taken her to it, and I had decided not to make an issue about it because we had another job to do. As soon as the job was underway, the water wasn’t an issue for her either. I was so proud.

It was good work for both of us, and a good ride. Perhaps I could be a country girl after all…

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Ha. Ha ha. I still have a box full of stilettos and I can’t find it in my heart to get rid of them just in case I have a need for a pair.

Supper was Cowboy’s go-to meal, of fried cabbage and pasta with sausage. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s delicious. I’ll post the recipe one of these days.

The day has been a good combination of my lives: British, dancer, cowboy’s girlfriend, (aspiring) horsewoman.

And yes, I’m aware my horse is smothered in mud here. She’s a hog. What can I say?