But in shadows? As with every happening hotspot in the known world, predators are just waiting for the opportunity to prey.
It might be a small life-and-death drama, but at the Farm, we are talking actual life and death.
Along comes the big bad. Slithering. Licking the air with a forked tongue for the scent of mousey love. Perhaps the big bad has developed a taste for these tender morsels in their nuptial bower. Or wants to.
In a moment comes a squeaking in the humid dark. A thump perhaps, and a scrabble...A fierce little battle that no diminutive St. George can hope to win.
A final squeak and silence fills Base Camp.
The big bad curls around a full tummy and snoozes for a day or a week, and wakes to the delightfully stretchy feeling of impending shed. The nuptial bower now a spa room. Exfoliation and microderm abrasion. Buffed. Polished.
And then vamoosed.
Leaving the mess for the maid.
The modern game-trail camera is an enduring pleasure. Eight lithium batteries and a 16-gig card about doubles the price for one of these sturdy little gizmos, but it's still an bargain peep into the wildlife show at the Farm.
Each season brings its surprises past the motion detector. Sometimes a bear. Sometimes a bird –– or squirrel! –– mid-flight. We nearly always have coyotes and deer.
But the surprise this summer was the repeated photo of a free-range Highland Cow (knows in Scotland as the Heeland Coo).
We were rooting for her: she the last of her herd, escaped from the roundup when the neighbor sold off all of his cows in the spring. We heard how she'd jumped the fence and headed for the hills.
When wrangled into an old barn, she leaped through a glass window for freedom. Burst out and was gone with what I imagine was a sassy flick of her blonde tail.
There, we thought, is a cow who knows which side of the fence is which. Cue the music from Born Free.
She looks so at home, as wary as a deer in the woods.
I didn't want to ask the follow-up question in September.
Let's all pretend that she's running free still.
Let's pretend that instead of thinking about whether she irritated the guy with the gun, or how she got packaged by the pound. Or any of her last moments.
Thanks Matt Munro, for the words Andy Williams sings on the dopey movie that gave me an unreasonable penchant for dented old Land Rovers: "Stay free where no walls divide you/You're free as the roaring tide/So there's no need to hide. Born free."
That. Ain't. No. Bird.
Enter your amusing name for this creature, or a caption, or something –– in the comments area below and I will pluck a lucky winner from the crowd and award him or her a prize.
Such as, perhaps, a bar of homemade almond-oatmeal soap –– or an actual physical book. Or maybe lunch. As the whim takes me. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks in advance for playing!
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