Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘pheasants’

The Unexpected Gift

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/07/2012 at 8:45 pm

"I can't believe it either."

This is a true story. And not a pretty one. The other day, as Olive and I stood on the lawn on the side of my house, facing my neighbor’s country white split rail fence, we both noticed something odd at the same time. About 10 yards in front of us, on the other side of the fence was a large object on the ground. Olive barks at it. I stand there and think to myself “WTF?”  Holding Olive firmly on her flexi-leash, I make my way toward the fence, my steps slowing a bit as I get closer. “Christ. It’s another dead pheasant, Olive.” Mangled and frozen to the ground. “At least it’s not on our lawn this time,” I say to Olive who is now straining at the leash, desperate to investigate the carcass du jour. “Let’s go back in the house and call Ray and tell him he’s got lawnkill in his yard.” As I dial the phone (and why do some of us still say dial when rotary phones disappeared along with the Triceratops?) I mentally calculate the number of dead pheasants I’ve encountered since the Snoctober storm. Too many. For the first few weeks, they were skittering around the property like mice that had dropped acid. Since then, they’ve been dotting the property and the roadway like paint on a pointillist masterpiece. It isn’t over yet. The next morning, I release Olive from her crate as I always do. Except this time, she zips down the hallway, leaps down the stairs and races to the front door where she starts frantically sniffing the bottom of the threshold and scratching with both paws simultaneously at the draft blocker like a serial killer trying to claw their way out of hell. Great. A mouse must have gotten in the house I think. In retrospect, I should have been so lucky. I take Olive outside and as we pass the alcove by the front door, I can’t help but see a black object about the size of a small brown derby cake to the right of the doorway…exactly where Olive was scratching from the other side of the door. As I take this odd sight in and consider the possibilities, Olive is trying to pull me toward the object. “Not a chance, Olive. That looks way nasty even from here.” I bring Olive back in the house and return to the scene of the crime. I don’t know whether it’s dead or alive, but I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of animal. As I get closer and closer, I notice greasy black streaks leading up to the object. I am as close as I’ll get to it now and looking down, I observe the most revolting concoction of blackened feathers, bloody guts and God knows what else. Now I know what it is. Some animal, in the middle of the night, a fox or a coyote, ate too much of its prey and came to my front door to evacuate it out of one of its orifices. Thanks. And I used to think that cats bringing dead pink and grey little voles and headless mice was bad. This sets a new standard in vileness. And now I have to deal with it. I get a shovel from the garage and begin picking it up. As I do this, I can’t help but start to dry heave. I have never been good about cleaning up any type of vomit, dog or human. Multiply either of those by about 50 and that’s what I’m dealing with. I continually retch as I walk across the front lawn, across the street and dump it into the cornfield which has already been transformed into Our Lady of Holy Pheasants. The grass is littered with the corpses of about a dozen of these game birds. I back away and stand there for a second. I’ve stopped retching. I go back in the house and call my neighbor, Ray to tell him about this. Before I begin my story, he says, “Hey, you know that dead pheasant on my lawn yesterday? It was the damnedest thing. I picked it up, and everything was all there…except all its insides were gone.”

Good Will Hunting Roadkill

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 12/30/2011 at 8:51 am

"He took MY pheasant."

As Olive and I stood in the front yard at 6:30 the other morning, she, contemplating just what tiny patch of the entire acre of property on which to deposit a healthy-sized brown gift, and me, feeling myself age like a mythological creature waiting for her to make a decision, a black pick-up truck slows as it drives past our house. Olive instantly abandons her quest for biological correctness and starts barking like a banshee. The truck stops just past our driveway. The neighborhood is treated to an early morning rendition of “WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO.” The first thing I see emerge from the truck is a day-glo orange knit cap. It is so bright it could cause retinal burn. The cap shines like an tree top ornament on a man dressed in green camoulflage. “MAYBE IT’S SOMEONE FROM THE POWER COMPANY, OLIVE. OR A HUNTER. BUT WHAT DOES HE WANT FROM US?” As he continues walking in the street at the edge of my lawn, he cheerfully calls out. “THERE’S A DEAD PHEASANT ON YOUR LAWN. I USE THEM TO CATCH RACOONS.” Doesn’t that seem backwards, I think? Isn’t the pheasant supposed to be the desirable catch? Here is the best part. As he says this with just a little too much excitement in his tone, he reaches down and picks up the dead pheasant by its limp green head and starts walking away with his trophy. I squint to confirm that yes, the dead pheasant is dangling from his ungloved, bare hand. Yeesh. I feel like I have to go inside and wash my hands after seeing this. Or my eyeballs. Even Olive has stopped barking. Maybe because she didn’t realize that this treat was sitting on her front lawn like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae and now a stranger has stolen Olive’s gamey little dessert. Or, she has simply witnessed the most spectacular opportunity that opposable thumbs present. As the human military ornament walks back to his car with an unmistakable spring in his step, I call out, “HEY. COME BACK ANYTIME. NEXT WEEK WE’RE SERVING FOX.”


In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/19/2011 at 4:37 pm

Welcome to Pheasantopia. Home of the thousands of cage-raised pheasants that escaped from the Rockport Pheasant Farm after the Snoctober storm. They are EVERYWHERE. In my back yard, on my front lawn and across the street in the recently plowed corn fields. The males seem to outnumber the females and walk around with their burnt umber chests proudly thrust forward, a perfectly even white band separating their green heads from their brown necks. They are much more beautiful than I imagined and look as though they stepped out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. Perhaps that’s because Thanksgiving is almost upon us. They are however, not the brightest of birds. How do I know this? Because dozens of them now dot the roadway flattened like Milk Duds. Standing in the front yard at 6:30 yesterday morning, I actually heard a THUD as a car flew by. “THERE GOES ANOTHER ONE, OLIVE.” Except, to our surprise, this one had apparently just been clipped by the car as it rose high and flew across my neighbor’s yard coming to rest on their driveway. Not the best place to land. Privately, I wondered how many lives this bird actually had left. Perhaps this is the same doofus who caused the early morning silence to be rudely punctuated by two drivers laying on their car horns as though they’d slumped over their steering wheels unexpectedly. Thanks, doofus. Now I’m awake. And now that Olive knows I’m awake, she’s awake too. Whether indoors or outdoors, Olive remains transfixed by Pheasantopia, her pin dot pupils radiating intense interest at whatever offenders are trespassing in our yard. The only thing funnier than watching Olive watch the pheasants is listening to Olive watch the pheasants. Hear for yourself. Turn the volume up to hear Olive perfecting her “pheasant whine.”

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