There’s something living in the bushes out beyond the hen house.
I know this because every evening I go out to make sure the hen house door is locked and the two hens (Shakira and Beyonce) are happily roosting inside, oul Waff loses his little mind at those bushes in an(other) vain attempt to sneak through the brambles.
He starts off by rocketing towards the bushes like a cheetah chasing an invisible antelope and then when he arrives, he slinks back and forward and back and forward, his hairy tail straight up, like a the flag of permanent vigilance.
But what really makes me believe that there is something lurking in those bushes is Waffle’s complete silence, as he undertakings this sniffing inspection. Normally he’s whining like a car alarm at every opportunity but with this absence of sound, it’s as if he is attempting to flush his quarry out by dint of surprise. However, this is something he has so far failed to achieve.
Still, my interest having been piqued as to what manner of creature might be cowering in the brush, I borrowed a motion capture camera from my nephew so that we might gain a visual on Waffle’s habitually invisible foe.
There was much excitement within the fambly on the evening the camera was set up. Attached to a post on the Little Humans’ climbing frame, it was pointed square at the bushes. The way it works is via a sensor on the front of the device. Should it pick up any movement, the video clicks on, in theory, to record whatever creature might crawleth from its lair.
I had previously ventured into the bushes, or as far as my muscle-gone-to-fat physique would permit but all I could see were patches of smooth earth. As to the identity of the squatter, there was no sign.
“What if it’s a skunk?” the littlest of the Little Humans enquired, one evening as I peered into the undergrowth.
“If it’s a skunk it’s probably Pepe le Pew and that means we’ll have to lock Waffle up until the mating season is over.”
“Never mind. But I’d bet good money it’s not a skunk.”
And so it was all that we could do not to crack open the device and see what footage had or hadn’t been captured after just one night. In the end, by sheer force of will (also, I couldn’t be bothered), we let the camera sit for two nights, in the hope we’d have twice the luck in seeing our neighbour.
Alas, on the second night when we hooked the camera up to the laptop, the only creatures ‘captured’ were me and the Waff, early morning and on the edge of dusk when we went to visit Shakira and Beyonce.
“To hell with that,” I said and the mystery strung itself further along.
Previously I had told Waffle not to be a “hairy fool,” and to quit, “acting like the big man,” when he continued harassing the bushes during our dawning and glomming visits. But all that changed this week when Waffle managed to scare his quarry out of the bushes and onto open ground.
However, on that fateful night, it was another case of the Waff that called wolf. Whilst I had gone to the shed to change into me wellies, Waff lost his little mind and I assumed it was just another night of silent harassment. It was only when the crying got up, that I knew something was going down.
It took me a few moments, as I was struggling with the wellies, to realise that the crying wasn’t the whiny Waffle kind. This was more a sharp cry of panic or pain and it had something of a semblance to the high pitched cry of a child – although I knew it was not.
“Jaysus, boys,” I said to the wellies, “aul Waff has hit the jackpot.”
Sprinting across the garden towards the bushes (as fast as the willies would permit), the light of my torch bouncing in the dark, all I would see was Waffle jumping along in the ditch beyond the bushes. He had fastened onto a scent and something was cornered and as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t Pepe le Pew.
As I approached the crying intensified, the squeals coming faster and faster and Waffle started growling.
“Jaysus, boys,” I said to the wellies, “maybay we should call a halt to this fiasco before aul Waff chews something up.” But what he might chew up, I had no idea.
A stern, “Hi, you!” was surprisingly sufficient to shunt Waffle out of the zone. “Up you come.” I scanned the ditch with the torch but all I could see was bushes and grass and the flash of Waff’s eyes as he approached.
Moments later, the Hound was at my knee and the crying had ceased. Then Waffle, true to form, started whining.
Despite no animals being harmed in the course of this small adventure, I remained distinctly disappointed that the identity of the squatter remained a mystery. Then I had a brainwave.
The sound of the creature’s crying was still fresh in my ears and so, after quickly checking on Shakira and Beyonce, I skedaddled back to the house and dug my phone out of my pocket. I Googled, “The sound of a rat.” But that screeching didn’t tally up. I Googled, “The sound of a rabbit.” But that didn’t tally up either.
I was fairly sure it wasn’t a skunk and even though we have deer in the garden from time to time, I was also sure I’d have seen something of that size with me torch.
I Googled, “The sound of a hare.” Was that it? It could be!
But I wasn’t sure.
The next day was a Saturday and after breakfast and without work breathing down my neck, I was happy enough to stroll around the house in my smalls. That is, I was ‘happy enough’ until Waffle started growling at the front door.
“Get-away-outta-that-dawg,” I told him with a growl of my own. But Waff wouldn’t listen.
The rumbling intensifying, I barked again, assuming that perhaps the postman had arrived outside. But once again, Waffle ignored my admonitions.
Peeking around the window at the front door (I couldn’t go out by dint of me being in my smalls), there was nothing to see. But still, His Hairyness kept up the rumbling growl.
“Seriously, dog?” I asked him and opened the door.
Waff went out like he’d been fired out of a gun, straight for a flowerpot under the trees. At first I couldn’t see anything but then, just as fast – if not faster – a baby hare erupted from its hiding place by the flowerpot and scooted around the corner of the house and away towards the back garden and the bushes beyond the hen house, the Hairy Police in hot pursuit.
Ignoring the current underwear predicament, I struck out for the corner, shouting at Officer Hairyface to give up the chase; I couldn’t have him chewing up a cute baby hare. Unbelievably, he complied at the first request.
The mystery of the ‘something living in the bushes’ was solved!
“It’s like a Hairy Murder She Wrote about here,” I told the Waff as he returned, downcast, to lurk at the front door. “Except this time, there wasn’t a murder.
“But the day’s not over yet, eh.”
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