Winding down a narrow country road over hill and dale was a lonely wooden farm house. It’s white paint had been flaking off for decades leaving it worn and ragged. Though it’s outward appearance was in much need of repair it was still occupied by a woman and her son. It was the cheapest place she could find for them both to live and for her son to enjoy the country life rather than the small apartments in the little town near sycamore grown.
Mrs. Thomas was alone now since the passing of her husband and she was trying to make ends meet. This financial crisis had brought her to this little country house. It looked terrible outside but the inside was still cozy and warm. It definitely had a rural appearance but Mrs. Thomas didn’t want her son to be living in a drug environment but rather the chance to enjoy animals and fresh air.
Sycamore was a small community of people who lived about five miles from the local town of Marshville in North Carolina. It was the nearest place Mrs. Thomas could find for herself and her son. It was known to all to be a community of good trusting folks who still had gardens and animals. It was close enough for her to drive to town without being so costly. It was her plan to have a small garden and allow her son Daniel the enjoyment of keeping a dog, a cat and the woods filled with native critters.
The property sat surrounded by tall oak trees and a few apple trees. Tall pine trees stood tall behind the house. The trees made homes for all the birds, squirrels, and owls. It didn’t take long for Daniel to see a large owl who came daily to find his food. He was keeping his keen eye on the wild animals that came up to the house hoping to get food from Mrs. Thomas. She was gracious and left bread on the back porch for any of them who happened to be hungry.
Daniel named the owl Abraham and whistled for him daily hoping he would learn he was a friend and not an enemy of wildlife. Each and every day old Abraham sat on the same limb in the oak tree. He sat as still as could be hoping none of the wildlife beneath him would not see him and scamper to and fro. This would give him the perfect opportunity to swoop down and pick up the prey with his long sharp talons. So far he had not had the chance to enjoy a tasty meal from any of the small victims below. He was not giving up though for he was aware that the cats had been busy having kittens and the squirrels gave birth to nest filled with baby squirrels. He watched them with his eyes not moving his body at all. If he didn’t move, perhaps they would not see him sitting high above them.
Weeks past and Daniel watched daily to see if Abraham was keeping his place in the trees. He knew what Abraham was visiting only to snatch a tasty meal and not just to keep company to him and the small animals. So one day Daniel decided to get his sling shot and try to make Abraham leave. He was not planning to kill the old owl but only to scare him away. Each day Daniel sat on the steps of the old house with his can of white pebbles and took aim at Abraham. Abraham did not move at all. In fact he just sat there ignoring the pebbles that were coming very close to his head. It became apparent that Abraham was not afraid and determined to keep watch on the tasty morsels below.
“You are one determined bird”. Daniel mumbled as he shot another rock in Abraham’s direction.
Abraham moved his eyes to and fro. He knew the rocks were getting closer and closer.
“I don’t give a hoot if the young fellow wants to use up all his rocks.” Abraham said in a hushed voice. “I am going to stay right here until I catch my dinner.” He voiced softly in a voice only a owl would understand.
Another round of white rocks went flying by Abraham’s head. Daniel was determined to make Abraham leave so the animals on the ground would be safe.
“I can stay out here as long as you can!” Daniel yelled loudly hoping the owl would take offense and just leave. About the time the last word left his mouth a white rock hit Abraham right in the chest knocking him off the limb of the tall tree. He fell down a few feet then caught himself onto another branch.
“Dang this boy means business here. I wonder how many stones he has left. Maybe I should just return tomorrow.” Abraham mumbled his feathers all out of sort.
Daniel shot another series of rocks and they whizzed by Abraham’s head. He moved over nearer the tree trunk hoping it would throw Daniel’s aim off and the tree trunk would be somewhat protective. He rubbed his head against the tree. “Dang I have a bit of a headache!” He screeched.
“You better move it on out of here you stubborn old bird.” Daniel yelled to the top of his voice.
Another stone popped against the tree trunk and Abraham move aside. What must he do, he thought to himself? Then another stone zipped past his feathered body.
“Well sir! This kid is a danger to society. Someone should take that sling shot away from him. He could kill something and that something could be me!” He squawked in a way all owls squawk when they are peeved. “My stomach is aching for something to eat and I’m not leaving until I catch me something. When it gets dark maybe the boy won’t be able to see me and I can jet stream down from here and pick up one of those little kittens. They look so good. My mouth is just watering.” Abraham muttered. He rubbed himself against the tree to smooth out his ruffled feathers.
As Abraham was working to smooth out his feathers, Daniel decided to move the kittens into the barn and close the barn door. If he could get all the animals inside the barn, then Abraham would have no dinner. Quickly he gathered all the fuzzy little kittens and moved them into the barn. The mother cat followed. The ducks followed and the dog kept watch at the barn door.
Pretty soon all the little animals were curled up in the fresh hay Daniel had gathered up for the cold months. His eyes moved around the barn to see if there might be anything or anyone inside. He saw nothing. Quickly he shut the barn door and motioned for his dog to follow him back to the house.
Abraham was watching carefully from the tree. He knew his stomach would keep him awake all night because it had no food inside. He frowned as he turned his head almost all the way around. “I am just as upset as an owl can be!” He mumbled. “It is not going to be a good night for me. I guess I will have to try and find some mice in the nearby field. Shucks! I had cat stew in mind.” He flapped his wings and headed for another tree.
“Now this is what you should do you old stubborn owl.” Daniel grinned. “He didn’t give a hoot and neither did I. It looks like Abraham will have to dine another day around here. I know all animals have to eat but I really want to keep my cats to eat the mice in the barn. He will just have to find something else!” He smiled as his eyes scoped out the area.
“Rats! Rats! Rats! I’m so tired of rats!” Abraham screeched loudly. ” I suppose I will have another day of rat meat. Oh how my stomach is rumbling. I’ve got to sit very still and perhaps with my keen sight I will ……..” About that time he saw possum walking slowly toward the tall grass. Before one could say “Scat” he swooped down and picked up the fat opossum. He quickly carried it away. His stomach would be filled after all.
“I guess it pays to be stubborn sometimes.” Abraham said as he began eating his dinner.
Daniel picked up his can of rocks and went inside. Ghee I have only two rocks left. If Abraham had been smarter he might have won. All was quiet on the farm as night settled in.
Tomorrow would be another day!
Question: Can an owl see animals walking on the ground from a great distance?
Written by Sybil Shearin
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