Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I hadn't gone ten feet up the hill before I remembered the lawn cart. I would need it to carry all of the logs I needed to get. So back down the hill I went.
The rain had started to pick up a bit, and the wind started blowing. Typically I'd be frustrated with the horizontal rain, but today I was relieved for the noise. Silence might be golden at times, but simply unnerving in others. Minnie, our best mouser cat went running into the field, probably chasing a mouse. It was nice to see and hear the spell of death be broken.
Walking in front of the house I saw the creek in the front of the house was rising higher and faster than usual. I hurried across the bridge and dashed across the lawn. As I opened the door to the woodshed, something told me that there was trouble in there. I opened the doors fully and found a bobcat in with the puppy. It was taking bites of the flesh and had blood oozing out of its mouth. Its eyes narrowed and it shrieked a warning. It let go of the pups' body with its claws and started slowly toward me. I quickly grabbed each door and pushed them closed, but just before they were completely shut I saw that Jewel had stealthfully gone inside the woodshed to protect me from this malevolent creature. I tried to call her out, but the cat had seen her too, and darted toward her. I screamed and hesitated, not knowing what to do. I called to her again, but she was now at battle with the bobcat and wouldn't desist.
I left the doors open and ran inside the house for my shotgun. I opened the front door and ran through the house. This was my nightmare come true. I tore open the closet door and pulled back the dresses. In the back of the closet was a 12 gauge shotgun that I had been given as a present from Jack when we first moved to the farm. He had been adamant that I learn how to load, unload, and shoot the monstrous beast. He had warned me that at some point I'd probably end up using it on some form of enemy on the farm. I'd always hoped he was wrong, but like with so many things, he was right.
I grabbed a box of slugs and took one out and fed it to the gun. I filled my pockets with ammo and turned to walk out of the bedroom. As I walked through the door I heard a gurgle sound. I quickly looked to the noise and saw the beast just coming up the stairs. Panicked with fear, yet knowing what I must do, I said a silent prayer that my shot would be accurate. I pulled the gun up to my shoulder, sited the beast in and pulled the trigger. The gun's kick made me wince, but the beast kept coming; I'd missed my mark. I ran to the bedroom and shut the door. I hurried and put in another slug. The beast clawed at the door and shrieked. The door was like paper to his claws and he shredded it as he tore at it. I placed myself back from the door about 10 feet and waited for him to bust his way through. As soon as I could see his body through the hole in the door I raised my gun again. This time the adrenaline had kicked in and I felt calmer than I had on the first shot. I took my time siting him in and pulled the trigger. At once the bobcat flailed in the air and fell backward. Blood gushed from his belly and oozed from his nose and mouth. I waited, expecting him to be dead, but knowing he might try to fight a little more while he could. He laid still. I put in another slug just in case and slowly crept toward the door. I turned the knob and opened the door, more out of civility than necessity, and walked into the hallway. The cat lay silent.
My thoughts turned toward Jewel. She never would have let this creature into the house had she have been alive. My heart sank. Tears welled and I hurried downstairs. There were bloody footprints along the carpet where the bobcat had walked, and blood smears in the dining room both on the floor and along the wall. I couldn't see anything obvious that would make the smears. My eyes swept the room, but there was nothing. I looked in the kitchen, but it was clean of any blood. I walked outside and saw her.
She lay on her side on the front porch with her head down and her tail still. She looked at me with her big brown eyes, searching for something to tell her what was going on. "I killed him girl," I said. "I shot him and he is gone." Her tail moved slightly, trying to wag as if she understood. My eyes swept all around us, making sure the danger was gone. I shut the door, just in case the creature wasn't really dead in there. I knelt down beside her. I saw blood oozing out from somewhere, but with all of her long fur it was hard to see where it was coming from. I lifted her front leg, everything looked ok there. I lifted her back leg and gasped. Part of her bowel was looped out of her belly. This was bad, very bad. I looked at her eyes. She looked back, pleading me to help her. I didn't know what I could do for her. I was glad that there weren't any flies out today; it would cut down on the risk of infection. I went back inside the house to call the vet, taking my gun with me and shutting the door on the way in. I found the vet's number and took the receiver off the hook. I dialed the number and put the phone to my ear. There was no sound: no ringing at all. I hung up and lifted the receiver. Nothing. It was dead. I was on my own. Oh goodness. How could I do this? I don't even know what I'm doing! I knelt down and pled for help. Help to know how to take care of Jewel. Help that I could be calm. Help that no other beasts would come to do damage. I needed help. I knew I couldn't do this alone.
I stood. I looked around. I saw all of the love that Jack had had for me: this house with all of its light and beauty. The pots and pans hanging above the stove that he had given me as a gift. The pretty soapstone stove that kept me warm in the winter. The lovely dining room table that was simple yet had a touch of elegance. The comfortable sofa and loveseat in the living room, and the gorgeous piano he had loved to play and sing to. Tears flooded my eyes. So much love was in this house. Everything he had done to make this place home for me washed over me. Outside were all of the tools I needed to make this farm run. I felt all of his love flood over me. Instead of mourning him, though, I felt inspired. I felt strong. I felt like anything was possible. I felt hope like I hadn't in months. I knew everything would be alright.
I wiped my eyes and picked up the shotgun. I walked up the stairs quietly, keeping my ears and eyes open for the bobcat, hoping it was truly dead, but wary that it wasn't. I reached the top step and got my gun in position. I turned to the right and saw the cat in the same spot I left him. I lowered my gun and walked back to the linen closet. I sat the gun down and opened the closet door. I pulled out the first aid kit, again feeling a surge of thankfulness to my good husband that had provided what I needed. He was a stickler for being prepared and had bought many first aid kits for the farm. There were several more, each strategically placed: one in the barn, one in the shop, one in the truck and another in my Jeep. He had made a way to care for me long after he was gone. I picked up my gun and turned to go down the stairs. Silence still filled the air, but I knew I'd be okay.
Continue to Part 5