Today we have serious snow which makes life challenging with the horses and out on the yard and it is changing minute by minute from brilliant sunshine to whiteouts. How extraordinary, beautiful (and cruel) is nature?!
Late last night before the white stuff arrived though, while it was blowing a gale and painfully cold another, a most extraordinary episode took place. I was in Talisman’s stable tucking him up for the night when I heard a dragging noise on the yard. We all heard it, the cats, the horses and me and all of us stood motionless trying to work it out. Then I saw it…..
I have recently made the acquaintance of little person who, unbeknown to me, secretly lives under the floor-boards of the listed barn in the area I use for feeding. There are a few steep steps up to the door (or to the cat-flap for small four legged friends) which are a bit of a challenge if you are carrying anything heavy……
I have met him twice now. Once I only managed to get a glimpse of his bottom and tail as he disappeared down through the gap in the floorboards to his lair, when I came into the barn. Another time I heard rustling in the hay next to the feed area and knowing there were no cats in the barn, I peered over to investigate…and saw him just a couple of feet away. We eyeballed each other for about 30 seconds, both thinking “what on earth are you doing in my barn?!” I had a little chat with him before he scurried off about his business.
His face was beyond cute but I didn’t actually know what he was, so I got on the computer and looked up various species until I saw him peering out of screen at me. A Polecat! After more investigation it turns out they are a protected species having been on the verge of extinction but are starting to make a comeback in a few parts of the British Isles including Wales. How lucky am I?! And if there is one, it’s likely there is a pair. So I now have resident horses, cats, hedgehogs and a Polecat….and those are just the animals I know about. I am going to get an infra red camera to film the nightlife and find out who else is here, as there are holes in my woodchip track and muckheap every morning, for starters. I think it would make a great movie!
So, back to last night. As we all stood there peering into the dark, he appeared. The Polecat was using all his might to drag something far larger than himself under the gate and down the yard towards the steps of the barn. He saw me, stopped to acknowledge my presence and carried on. He dragged the ‘thing’ up the first two steps of the barn towards the cat flap and then got stuck. The thing occupied the whole of the second step and he just couldn’t get the right angle from the step above to exert enough leverage to heave it inside. Up and down the steps he went, considering his options before admitting defeat. All the while we all held our breath and watched. Then he turned and stared at me and I knew he was asking for help, so I went across the yard, picked up his catch (which turned out to be a bird of prey) by its legs and bunged it through the cat flap. Yuck!! I rapidly retreated hoping he wouldn’t be frightened off and would return for the bird.
A little while later, when I went into the barn to make up feeds, I was delighted to find the bird had vanished. Mr Polecat had returned to drag it down through the floorboards but its feet were sticking out as it was too big for the hole! Not wanting the cats to rob him of his hard-earned supper, I found a stick and pushed it as far as I could under the floor. I could still see it just, but a few minutes later, there was no sign of it at all so mission accomplished for the Polecat.
I was gobsmacked and utterly delighted at the same time. I love the fact that there are secret lives on my yard and even more, that there had been communication between me and the little wild creature that was understood and he was happy to carry on in my presence. Again, I say, how extraordinary is nature!
Pics: The white stuff – Talisman and me in blizzards and sunshine! Mr Polecat (not the actual one as I didn’t have my camera with me unfortunately, but a look-alike!)