Christmas at the Farm

Cats and other creatures

One good thing about spending time at a farm is meeting the animals who inhabit it. My day always starts with a wave and a word for the cows and a quack for the ducks on the pond as I pass them. There are less ordinary animals too; llamas and wallabies occupy two of the fields, and they’re a big hit with the visitors. I’ve made some animal friends too.

In the field opposite my usual station at crossroads between the ‘North Pole’ and Candy Cane Lane are some sheep and goats. They greet me every morning with some hopeful baa-ing, as they expect everyone who walks past their field to feed them. They have a little tube down which you can pour the animal feed, and all day long there is a steady stream of children happy to oblige. It’s hardly surprising that they can be loud if someone forgets to feed them as they walk past! There is inevitably a small pile of dropped animal food outside their field, which brings another visitor, in the form of a little robin who searches around for crumbs. He’s very brave, and I see him most days; often I hear him before I see him, a sharp chirping on the winter air before he bounces along the fence, one eye on the food, the other on me.

Then the robin brings another set of visitors to my North Pole crossroads – the cats. There are several cats who appear now and again, including a very pretty visiting ginger cat, who seemed very happy to see me; I suspect he recognised in me a kindred spirit as Mother Ginger. The farm has two resident cats, one tabby and a grey, Both farm cats are slightly aloof; both happy for a little bit of fuss, but on their own terms, and once they notice that there is no food on offer, they tend to stalk off in search of someone else. The grey cat is a hunter too – whilst talking to some very small children, he upstaged us by scrambling into a tree after some birds who were trying to roost on a high branch. He got quite a long way up before he decided that the birds were beyond him. I hope he doesn’t have his eyes on the little robin …

The horses in the field beside Candy Cane Lane like to interact with their visitors. Sometimes they interact by nipping fingers that are put too close to their mouths, but then visitors shouldn’t be putting their finders close to the horses’ mouths! They’re fond of a rub on the nose, though when one of our elves went to give his nose a rub, it appears that the horse was really VERY pleased to see her …

Then there’s the donkeys. They can make a surprising amount of noise when they want to, and for some reason, they always seem to want to while we’re singing carols. Perhaps they’re joining in? They’re not the only ones who want to add their voices to ours; at the end of the day, the birds begin to gather. A large flock of them, I don’t know what they are, possibly rooks, circle around the trees behind the sheep field. I suspect they have an eye on the spilled sheep food beside the fence, and they’re very noisy. They rise as one, and settle down together, cawing and flapping, they seem to be bickering amongst each other. ‘It’s a bird party!’ declared one of the elves. ‘It’s not a party, it’s only cheese and wine!’ replied another, as the birds watched us. That settles it. Definitely a parliament of rooks!

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