I have said it many times in my periodic farm website posts. Nature is supremely designed to teach us how we should live within it. The events of which I am writing only serve to reinforce that point.
Sunday, August 16, 2020 began on a very sad note for us. Although it was not unexpected news, my good friend and confidant, Carol Wayne Ours, passed away in the early morning hours at the age of 79. He had been struggling with cancer for more than a year. His final 30-36 hours of life were spent in a coma. His loss weighs heavily on me as he was an inspirational, self-reliant, titan in my eyes, whose integrity was ever apparent. The dignity with which he conducted his life earned my everlasting respect. I shall always remember him fondly.
As if to celebrate the release of his soul, the sullen and somber weather that had marked his final days lifted, and pleasant, dry, sunny weather prevailed, which remained with us through his funeral yesterday. However, in the afternoon hours on Sunday, I was witness to a simple natural event that reaffirmed my perspective on the power of nature to teach life its limitations and boundaries. That is the primary subject I wish to tell you in today’s post.
Our efforts to protect and watch over our pet cat, Calli, have obviously given her great confidence in her perceived dominion over our farm. When we first started letting her explore the outdoors two summers ago, she enjoyed her freedom and independence with relish. There was nothing she wouldn’t hunt within the boundaries of her property, and she was clearly determined to protect the borders of her territory against any perceived invader. She would chase stray cats and deer who appeared in her domain without hesitation. In fact, I documented her penchant for chasing deer in several of my 2018 website posts (specifically Calli’s Catch on May 30, 2018, Our Deer Hunter on July 26, 2018, and Our Abandoned Doe Returns on August 10, 2018). She seemed to have no fear of her control and dominance over her home, although I knew that prideful overconfidence would someday be the tantalizing cause for one of life’s little lessons in nature. Sure enough, it was.
At one point, in her first year, Calli got an infection in her foot that we later learned was a consequence of her efforts to hunt and kill a pair of opossums that had taken up residence in our garage. One of the opossums bit her in the leg, resulting in a bone infection that required weeks of treatment to eradicate. Earlier this year, she was apparently chased so far from our farm and her boundaries by a larger invader (we believe it was a fox) that it took her eleven days to find her way home again. She returned with a greater appreciation of the refuge our house provides her. Since that return, she has been noticeably more risk averse in her outdoor behavior and is very careful to carefully check out her immediate surroundings when I let her out in the dark morning hours.
However, I believe the events that unfolded on Sunday afternoon finally broke Calli of her desire to chase deer. I had let her outdoors around 3:00 PM that day, and she began entertaining herself by chasing a grasshopper in the driveway. At some point in the following minutes, she worked her way over to our tractor, Ferguson, who was resting peacefully next to our garage. From one of our guest bedroom windows, I watched her hunker down tight to one of Ferguson’s large rear wheel tires to watch something that caught her attention in the yard on the other side of the tractor. Moments later, I saw two spotted fawns move in front of the tractor as they fed on the succulent tall grass that was growing in that area. Calli was eyeing them jealously, as they were invading her domain.
At first, the fawns did not see her in her hiding position, but it didn’t take long for one of them to spot her, which caused the other to take note of her presence as well. The two fawns stamped their front feet in an effort to assert their desire to eat the delicious grass they were enjoying, but Calli remained unphased. They remained locked in a staring contest, as the deer tested Calli’s resolve.
The standoff lasted only a few more seconds before Calli pounced at the fawns from underneath the tractor, causing them to turn and flee, kicking back with their hind legs in defense. Calli stood proudly underneath the tractor, having sufficiently caressed her ego as the reigning deer hunter of Peeper Pond Farm.
However, before she could turn away and resume her kitty business, I saw her react anew and hunker back down beneath the tractor. Moments later, the fawns’ much larger mother emerged from behind the tractor, followed by her four-pointed newfound boyfriend. Upon seeing mommy-dear and her powerful beau appear, the fawns confidently turned around and slowly returned towards their mother. Both mother and her buck glared down at Calli huddled beneath the tractor with a look only Clint Eastwood could match. Suddenly, Calli felt outnumbered and cautiously withdrew having lost the war. Once again, Calli had to accept that she was no longer the dominant animal on her farm. That realization was clearly apparent in her dejected retreat.
Nature’s little lessons are seldom respectful of our egos, but they can be very clear. Calli is gradually learning that she cannot will away the adversities in her life and that she has to respect her boundaries. It often saddens me to realize how resistant we can be to the lessons nature tries to teach us. I guess we all could use a little more of the humility that Calli learned that day. Here endeth the lesson.