Having the cat plummet out of the rafters and nearly onto my head the other day got me to mulling over the great number of visitors our run-in has hosted. Some are just passing through and others wish to take up permanent residence. The woman wants to rename it the Beatrix Potter Hostel for Wayward Wildlife, she's always being possessed by strange ideas - the woman, I mean, not B. Potter, whoever she may be.
We have had an endless stream of wandering cats, often just after the festive season. They come in all shapes and sizes and take refuge in the hay when the weather is especially nasty. One made himself at home in a bin filled with used baler twine and another tunnelled into a bale, where we could just make out two large, saucer-like eyes when we got up close. Most simply move on when the spirit takes them and some are captured in a box thing, whereupon the woman takes them to a cat rescue league.
In springtime we have all sorts of birds scouting out nesting sites in the rafters but Violet, the house feline/princess, stretches out along a rafter and scares the bejeebers out of them when they try to land. Any squirrels or those small striped tree rodents know better than to forage around in the run-in when Violet lurks nearby.
The strangest visitor dropped in a few years ago. We were eating our breakfast hay in the run-in when there was a tremendous racket in the cat-catching box. When we looked closer, it was a greyish, cat-sized entity with a furless tail, pointy ears and feet with huge claws. We kept an eye on it but went back to eating breakfast.
In comes herself and says " Ooooo, another kitty". And with that she went into the hay section. She blathered on in reassuring tones, peering nearsightedly at the creature in the morning gloom. It had curled itself into a ball but as she lifted the container, it unfurled itself and let loose a flood of hissing and growling, accompanied by an impressive outburst from it's hind end. The stench was horrific and the woman staggered backwards, holding a gloved hand over her nose.
She said "Aughhbluhhgargg, you're a possum!" and that's how we found out what the creature was. They are newcomers this far north and it was a first encounter for all of us. Frankly, I was intrigued. The woman backed up the vehicle, having lined the back with newspapers, and proceeded to carry the box through the run-in at arm's length. I slipped up behind her and put my nose to the bars "Good morning, sir or madam," I said. My goal was to make acquaintance with the thing and then question it closely. Instead the lunatic spat at me, showing an extensive collection of pointy teeth. I stalked off in a marked manner - I refuse to make an effort in the face of that sort of ignorance.
The woman says the vehicle never smelled the same afterwards and I don't doubt. A rendering plant in the tropics couldn't come close to the stench produced by that creature. Our canine at the time was very elderly and stayed in the house most of the time but I'm sure Penny the black and white speed demon who now resides with us could have had the thing routed in no time.
I live in hope that the bear who lounges around in our valley may come up to the barn and surprise the woman one of these mornings. She never wears her glasses first thing and I'm sure she'd think it was a dog and would try to wrestle it into the back seat of her vehicle, where she would force it into a seatbelt. Jack and I could sell tickets and go south on the proceeds.