Before noon the sun and earth had escaped the freezing fog. The sun illuminated the frost and rose the temperature to a pleasantly brisk 28°F. Effie paced Effieland’s perimeter for quite a while, stopping to lick icy droplets from the tall prairie grasses, and simply enjoying her sun-gilt holdings.
Our field and frontage were also bedecked with luminous frost, which I found supernaturally beautiful as I went up to fetch the one egg our six chickens had produced, and down the other side of our property to put the trash can out for collection..
My husband, who took this photo, is building a gated fence around our small orchard, which has provided our visiting deer a feast of plums, apples, pears, and grapes. Halvor has taken up guard duty, even though fruit season is behind us for the year.
Effie enjoys sitting on the air conditioner viewing the vastness of her holdings, Effieland.
My husband is reorganizing his shop, and Halvor loves watching Vic working there. I came in to check on Vic’s progress, and Halvor, who was sitting on a work table next to me, climbed up on my shoulder. I adore Halvor, so I felt very honored, even though he weighs 16-1/2 pounds, which happens to be 16% of my own weight. Oof–but what can I say–Vic, Effie, and I all think he’s terrific.
Deer constantly graze on our lawn. For whatever reason, they prefer the lawn to our field–but they are beautiful and sweet-natured, and we can certainly spare the grasses and weeds they consume. The light wasn’t right for a through-the-window photo, and they distanced themselves from our house when I stepped out on the deck.
Nine young female mule deer formed a troupe and congregated on our property this morning, and Effie was not welcoming. She gathered a look like thunder in grey clouds. She stuck a menacing paw through the fence surrounding Effieland.
She has done this to Cat Halvor, who is close to twice her weight, and this morning she deployed The Look and The Paw and sent nine does hightailing it away and out of sight in a few seconds.
Good for Effie, defender of our grapes she understands are important! The grapes were well out of reach for the deer, but they turned tail and ran when Effie’s power paw came through the fence. The deer evidently had no sense that a fence kept them apart from Effie, as well as keeping them from the grapes.
This all happened as I watched through the window, and the deer were gone before I could fetch my camera. I have these photos from previous occasions.
Warning yowl directed at Halvor. . .
The Paw says she means it. “Does this look like Halvorland to you?”
I mean it. Any further questions?
Effie has never killed a bird, but her chasing of birds has resulted in a few avian injuries. She has injured them but backed off and let them recover and fly off. This morning was different. Looking out the window, I saw her tossing a tiny bird in the air, batting it, and catching it with her paws and her teeth. When the little creature hit the ground without getting up, I intervened.
Effie lay down on her haunches next to me while I examined the little bird, a tiny female goldfinch. Her eyes were closed, but she was breathing. One wing looked disjointed. She flexed her feet continuously, and I thought it could be rigor mortis.
The birds who have hit the ground of Effieland stunned have been ones who entered through the fence and eventually crashed into the outside of our house and simply landed there, stunned for a while. Effie always left them alone to recover, and eventually they regained the strength to return through the wire fencing and depart. Invariably these birds were mourning doves. They were large and strong and canny, and Effie only chased them when they were flying and her attempts to snag them were thwarted.
The goldfinch was very small, and I was furious to see Effie playing a catch-and-launch game with it. When the little bird hit the ground and didn’t get up, the game was over. I gave Effie to understand that I was her prey’s protector. She yowled to return to her garden, but I stood fast. She was grounded whether she understood the reason or not. She is napping peaceably in her chair.
I went out to the spot where the bird had been after about an hour, grim at the thought of Effie’s first bird kill. But the little finch was gone! She had left her spot and I could not find her anywhere in Effieland, though it would be almost impossible to see her among all the vegetation. In any case, Effie is not there for now, and no other predators can get in.
Thanks to God’s preserving grace, this tiny female goldfinch is a true survivor!
AFTERWORD: Confident that the little goldfinch escaped, I relented and let Effie out to resume her proper role as sovereign of Effieland. She played cat and bird too roughly, but the bird evidently survived and will likely select gentler play companions in the future.
My name is Euphemia, Effie for short. My people have a garden named Effieland, and it is a place where I love to prowl, hunt, and nap, and eat a variety of delicious grasses. In summer and early fall, my Mom picks a few fresh catnip leaves for me every day from a flower pot of catnip my Dad planted. I also hunt bugs and run and jump a lot here, so I get lots of healthy exercise, in sunshine, rain, and snow.
My Mom is paranoid about foxtails, which are sharp little spears of brome growing in Effieland. She is afraid the foxtails will penetrate my skin and cause an abscess. This happened to a dog she had a long time ago, and the vet had to operate to remove the sharp little projectile. So she combs me every time I come indoors! But foxtails are very bad, so I let her comb me and I only leave a few teeth marks in her hands if I get playful or just bored.
I love Effieland because I am the Effielander, and Effieland is my dominion–but I do let my Mom and Dad pick grapes, berries, and tomatoes from the vines they planted. I just don’t understand why they don’t like to eat bugs! Bugs are so delicious!