July 15, 2008 by Marj Hatzell
In the past, I’ve mentioned that my yard is a virtual animal sanctuary. They show up here, all creatures great and small. I kinda feel like Snow White in the scene from the Disney Flick when she’s singing and chatting with the birds as they sit on her finger. You know, before she eats the poison apple and croaks and has to be saved by a Prince because she has a wicked stepmother? Sheesh. Don’t get me started on the patriarchy and how the keep women repressed and glorify eating disorders and broken homes…
Where was I? Oh yeah, Animal Sanctuary.
We’ve got rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, more squirrels, cats, dogs, foxes, freaking squirrels, moles, voles, deer, hawks, crows, birds of many feathers, snakes, mice, raccoon and those G-D squirrels. Which is why my husband built THIS to keep the freaking vermin (ahem, SQUIRRELS! I’M TALKING TO YOU!) out of our garbage:
Dang Purty, Ain’t it? I mean, we don’t have A DECK but we’ve got a fancy-schmancy SQUIRREL-PROOF BOX (we shall see) for our garbage cans. Perhaps I won’t go out in the morning to let the dog do her duty (ALLITERATION! YEAH!) and find chicken carcasses, dirty diapers and rotten veggies all over my yard. Perhaps. It could happen. A girl can dream.
Sorry, was I off on a tangent again? My bad. Animal Sanctuary, right?
Yes, they all know I’m the crazy lady who builds a pretty garden in which to gorge themselves. They also know they can come here at night and drive my dog crazy, as she whines at the window to get at the rabbits remaking Watership Down. They poo all over my yard so Shadow can roll in it. They scare the beejeebus out of us when they knock the cans over. The chew holes in my cans. Apparently, they are so comfortable here that they have also made this their animal graveyard. I’m talking, IT’S SUMMER! LET’S GO TO DG’S TO DIE! WOOHOO! I don’t know what they are all excited about, see. I mean, it’s a nice yard and all. I just don’t see why they pick my yard.
Yesterday I put Bugaboo on his bus and dropped Bug Boy at camp. When I returned home (after running many errands) I let the dog out. Since it had been raining, and it was trash day, I figured it was a good time to bring the cans in and put them in our PURTY BOX. As I meandered around the yard, I noticed feathers scattered everywhere. Not an unusual occurrence here in Animal Sanctuary. I mean, the food web is well represented, yo. It’s sick, but we find a bevy of deceased creatures. All part of the life cycle. What I mean is, EEEEEEWWWWW! STOP DYING IN MY YARD! I’VE GOT TO PICK THEM UP! STOOOOOOPPPP IT!!!!!
I saw scattered feathers. I walked over to identify the post mortem and noticed that the feathers were small and brown and looked suspiciously like a miniature hawk. After glancing up at our stately oak trees, I located a large nest directly above, no doubt the source of the feathers. I looked back at the feathers, figuring they just ‘fell out’ of the nest. That’s when I noticed the head:
Yes. That’s what you think it is. Except, when I flipped it over with a stick? It was blood and gore and ONLY HALF A HEAD. And a zillion feathers, scattered in a wide path all over my yard. *shudder* I then did what any self-respecting adult human being would do. I waited for Bug Boy to come home, called the neighborhood kids over and we had a mini-nature lesson. The kids were all, “EEEEEWWWW! Poor HAWK!” And I was all, “That’s part of life, kids!” And they were all, “I’M GONNA HAVE NIGHTMARES!” It was grand.
A few hours later, I was once again meandering around the yard. I’m good at that. Meandering, I mean. I meandered over to the pool (I like that word, meandering) and flipped the dirty, filthy, slimy, mosquito-larvae-ridden water out of it. Apparently, I upset the voles in my yard. Because they all scrambled to the surface and darted off. Except for one. He kept running around in the circular imprint that the pool left in the grass. I called the kids over the check it out (COOL BEANS! ANOTHER NATURE LESSON!) and they gleefully watched it and asked questions. As we watched him nibble grass and sniff out the ground, we commented on his teeny squinty eyes and the kids all commented on how adorably cute he was. They wanted to name him. As they argued over who had the best name for him, Shadow meandered over and with one swift movement, grabbed him between her teeth and then spit him out. Suddenly, the silence was deafening. The kids all stopped arguing and turned to the dog with a look of horror on their faces. And the tears began welling up in their eyes as they saw the little vole sprawled out on the ground, stunned. I began explaining that voles pretend to be dead to fool their predators when the vole sat up, rubbed its eyes and began coughing up blood. Then he began to shudder. Then he began to have a full-on seizure right in front of all of us. Of course, this all happened over the course of about thirty seconds. Before I could grab a sand pail and scoop him up, the damn thing died right in front of us.
And then the kids all screamed and ran. The end.
But not really. They ran off screaming, I scooped him up in a bucket and stuck him behind some shrubbery to deal with later. And later, he was gone. I have NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM. Poof! Disappeared! I think! Or eaten by large, hairy, black dogs! Or cats!
Sigh. I’m begging you, local fauna. Please stop dying in my yard.