Having just enjoyed the festivities of the new year with our very good friends, feeling extremely relaxed and happy albeit a wee bit tired we returned to the lodge and settled in front of the TV for the evening. I must at this juncture deviate and just extend our thanks to the best neighbour in the world, Pam Naylor, for taking such good care of the place and animals in out absence.
It is about midnight and we are lying prone on the settee, Hercules nestled between us, snoring as usual, watching The Green Mile when there is an almighty squawk from outside. We both looked at each other, mainly for reassurance that the other one had also heard it and in the hope that they had answer as to what it was!!! With the TV muted and the pair of us now looking out of the window into nothing but darkness we waited.......... 'SquawK!!!!!!' there it was again.
This time I ran outside and heard the now more frequent and panicked squeals from the chicken coup. With extreme bravery and with complete disregard for my own safety :-) I charged for the coup only to trip up over one of the now free and hysterical chickens. Picking myself up I made it to the enclosure. One of the hens was tipped up and unfortunately no longer with us and across the run I saw it, the grotesquely elongated and stealth like body of a stoat....
'Sharon' I exclaimed 'get me something to hit this f*****g thing with.
Sharon who was by this time in hot pursuit in her pink pyjamas, turns tail runs back and quick as a flash returns with the biggest axe in the world!!!!
Meanwhile, me and the stoat are transfixed in a stare down both trying to work out what the others next move would be. The chickens are running everywhere and of course all the activity has alerted Sid the sheep to the state of emergency. Sid, however, finds the sight of Sharon carrying an axe in pink pj's hilarious and is completely oblivious to the seriousness of the situation and proceeds to skip around like a new born lamb and take advantage of the open chicken run by helping himself to the chicken food!!
Me and the Stoat are still locked in our trance.
Sharon hands me the axe, no one is more surprised than me at being handed a very large axe to go into combat with a stoat. Anyway, Sharon's return or possibly the sight of her looking really rather lovely in her jim jams breaks my concentration and the Stoat seizes it's chance and runs for it and is lost in the dark!!
There is nothing I can do for the prone chicken, she did I believe put up a brave fight but now we have to recover the remaining five.
"SQUAWK!" Sharon is alerted to more panicked clucking runs across the yard. Armed only with a small torch she elects the screaming, slightly crazed unpredictable foe approach as she bound into the darkness and possible confrontation!! I follow as fast as I can and we find bumbles the chicken upside down head lopped to one side. I can hear rustling beneath the bush and try to flush the little rodent out, still clutching the enormous axe and still determined to take revenge for not only the unnamed chicken but for Bumbles!! She was so named as she had a bout of 'Bumble Foot' a skin condition that we had nursed her through a couple of months prior.
Unfortunately the stoat was too quick and it scuttled passed me and into the woods and that was the last I saw of it.
I returned to where Bumbles had fallen and bent over her expecting the worse. She was still alive!! Carefully, I picked her up and put her back on her feet; dazed and a wee bit unstable, bleeding slightly from the beak, she waddled forward and sat down, feathers all puffed and panting ever so heavily, for a chicken. I scoped her up and carried her back to the coup and slowly we rounded up the remaining chickens and locked them securely away for the night.
I am glad to report that Bumbles and the girls are doing well.
As for the stoat, he'll come again but this time we will be ready!!!!!!!!!!!