Grit Blogs > My Bad Sheep

His Name is Fred...

The biggest challenge to country living can be ‘name that creature’. Domestic or wild. 

I’m talking the unseen but vocal night critters, those which successfully devastated our koi pond multiple times whilst showing neither feather nor fur, and a few unexpected visitors.

I developed a handy animal naming system which serves equally well for all outdoor residents.

To wit:

When I observed the unlikely (but right-before-my-very-eyes) scenario of a flat mop in the Back 40 flopping its way happily in the fields and ran screaming to The Peanut Gallery that magic was, indeed, alive and a witches’ broom was BEING MADE up there. Even HE, Mr. Non-Believer in Magic, ran at lightning speed up to the Back 40 on that one and became equally puzzled (and semi-convinced in Magic) before scientific consultation (i.e.Google) concluded it was a rare California Badger scouring the ground up there. “His name,” I announced authoritatively, “is Fred.”


A Field of Freds...OBVIOUSLY!

It was an approach which served consistent purpose as Fred happily flopped the pasture for months before he was observed flattened on the highway a few miles away (as TPG announced, badgers roam for miles and ours paid for his wanderlust with too-close pavement inspection) – and when a month or so later another mop was observed, “Fred has returned.”

The next on the list of uninvited guests was rather rude, helping himself to koi pond residents before wantonly appearing in full feather on the back deck with a flurry of wings and a broad-daylight attitude that invited the sun to shine as it would: this perp had NO SHAME and was not about to slink around the pond at midnight committing his dastardly culinary crimes without benefit of light. Yup, Mr. Heron also earned the name Fred as he apparently decided to settle in for the duration of koi life, until The Peanut Gallery’s astute wildlife observation pointed out that Fred only fished from the open end of the deck’s pon, so a few well-placed deck furniture foiled that plot (he hated going under the shaded trellis – TPG said because herons want to feel free to fly away. Even if a bad attitude prevents such flight. I know the feeling!)

Fred the Heron made several more appearances, but it was only to glare balefully at the feng shui of the furniture’s new arrangement, obviously plotting his revenge on Orchard Supply Hardware.


CAUGHT! SOME unexpected guests just HAVE to hit the table before even saying "hello'"!

We never quite figgered out how the “rare, elusive” California badger happened upon our palatial estates – nor why Fred the Heron felt the need to leave his multitude of nearby ponds miles away to visit a rural farming community only noted for potatoes and cows – not water. Must be Magic….

Speakin’ of cows – and magic -  though: The Peanut Gallery is the originally Cow Whisperer. A party mooing contest (unbeknownst to the farmer hosting the 40 acres behind us – and yes, us urban transplants DO come up with the strangest games) confirmed that The Cow Whisperer not only resides here, but can bring an entire Field of Freds racing across the pasture to investigate the wayward romancer.

Call ‘em heads, herds, badgers or herons as you well – I call ‘em Fred(s).

They are ALL glorious reminders of why we live in the country. Even if rudeness and magic doth occasionally rear their heads in unexpected places….