Easter Sunday down on the farm. Little bunnies scatter, their white tails bobbing up and down, as I approach the squeaky gate. I’ve often wondered why nature gave bunnies such white tails – No wonder Mr McGregor chased Peter Rabbit! Poor Peter’s tail must have acted like a beacon as he bounced away from the Lettuce patch!
I watch, transfixed as tiny kittens (baby rabbits) bob across the yard, headed towards the field and safety. A white tail could make the rabbit appear much smaller to a potential predator and not so appealing! From a distance, with the natural camouflage of their coat, the white tail looks like a mouse. Odd.
Chickens scratch and peck here and there , engrossed in their outdoor tasks sucking puddle water, diligently following the cockerel, who struts around as though he owns the yard, Mr Yard Owner. Cocking his head to one side, he stares at me with a beady eye as I pass by. I look across at his thick sharp spurs and shudder, remembering the day he flew at me with them extended! However, today he seems happy enough with his harem in close pursuit, clucking harmoniously.
Most of the horses are out permanently now, their empty stalls looking bleak in their absence. Do they miss coming into their cosy beds at night after a day in the field, or is that anthropomorphic thinking? Every morning, my two little equines whinny to leave their stable and trot up the path towards their field, eager to spend the day outside. Dusk sees them standing forlornly at the gate, eager to return for a little meal of chaff and carrot, hay net and a soft straw bed to lie in.
Bramble loves coming in and stands protectively at the gate, ears back in a warning to little rosie saying ‘I’m first!’ Sometimes rosie lets Bramble have her way and stands quietly but when she wants in first, her ears go back and she will challenge Bramble by showing her rump and kicking out (double barrelling) making Bramble back off!
This morning, heading up towards their field, we pass a dead little juvenile Magpie lying in the grass, its beautiful white fluffy chest feathers blowing softly in the breeze. On my return, I stop and look at it. It’s perfect. Not a sign of how it died, no blood, no apparent injury. Sad. This is nature in its essence. Some survive, others do not. I expect a cat or fox will take it away for supper – I’ll be surprised if it is still there in the morning.
Tilly has gone now. There’s been no sign of her on the yard for weeks. I’ve almost stopped looking into the barn to see if she is there.
We don’t put food down for her any more either. A big ginger Tom lurks around at night now, scooting across the yard to hide in the shrubbery if he hears anyone approach. I feel hostile towards him, blaming him for usurping poor little Tilly from her home here. I miss her and worry about her. I hope she has found a safe nurturing home, but a nagging thought whispers that she hasn’t. I don’t think about the consequence of that one.
In the next field, lambs roam around in packs, like little gangs, as their mother ewes sit calmly chewing the cud, or stand engrossed in eating grass. Every now and then, one or more of the lambs springs into the air on all fours, in a joyous leap, carefree, happy and contented.
A lesson for us all.
Happy Easter day!
Next month’s tale is ‘Lambing on the farm’