My backyard is fully fenced, and so the dayhome kids have the run of it.
It’s a very kid-friendly space, naturally. There is a sandbox, swings, a slide, lots of trucks, soccer balls, a kid-sized basketball net, and Louis’ Most Favourite Thing in the History of Ever:
The one caveat to all this idyllic tousle-headed suburban fun & merriment is that the kids have to give me five minutes to clean up any doggy surprises first (thanks, you hoser dog).
And lately, we’ve had many serious discussions on the theme of Don’t Touch That Dead Thing You Found.
This is one of my cats, Max:
Max loves summer. LOVES it. He’s not so crazy about the intense daytime heat – he is a very long-haired cat, after all – but the short summer nights make him ever so happy. He refuses to spend the night in the house, and it probably makes me a bad pet owner, but it’s the country – most people leave their cats out at night.
And what else is out at night? SMALL THINGS HE CAN HUNT AND KILL.
So far this week in the backyard – or the house, shudder – we have found:
- one and a half squirrels
- two voles
- one whole bird, one half a bird, one bird’s head and two little gross birdy feet
- a rat that was still breathing but not moving at all, so we think the cat broke its neck
- a chipmunk
Seriously, that’s just this week. Every summer it’s the same. Last year he brought down a bluejay, which is alarming for a whole host of reasons; they’re big, they don’t fly at night, and did I mention they’re big?
A couple of weeks ago a neighbour told me that she heard a ‘commotion’ in her backyard one night, and when she looked out my cat was tussling with a raccoon (!!) – she was relieved to see Max twining himself around my ankles as I supervised the children playing, as she hadn’t seen him since the raccoon incident and assumed he was dead.
He’s brought home four rabbits, and generously shared them with the dog. One morning when I was pregnant with Baby G, I wandered into the living room to be greeted by the site of my dog sitting in his bed with naked rabbit-legs sticking out of his mouth. I still had morning sickness at the time. It was… not good.
Our neighbours have an unkempt back lot, and the grass has been growing unmown and unchecked all spring & summer. Today they finally brought in a landscaping company to knock back the worst of the verge… I’m pretty sure that’s where all these tiny mammals have been nesting, so hopefully cutting the grass will cut down on Max’s available supply of tasty rodent treats.
Because of all the things I try to teach the dayhome kids in the run of a day, rodent anatomy is not one of them.