What a Hoot!

What a Hoot!


As we approached the stallion Young Pip's stable, a piercing shriek broke the calm, peaceful air of the starry night.  Something whizzed past my ringing ears, making me jump right out of my skin and fluttered into the grove of trees.  "It's only an owl, Fifi", laughed my uncle with a twinkle in his eye.Fifi nicknamed the owl as Barney

Thereafter, I often spied this particular jungle owlet flying in and out of Young Pip's stable.  Some afternoons, I caught sight of it perched drowsily on the rafters in his stable.  Young Pip didn't seem to mind and quite enjoyed the company of the owl who had decided to move in with him.  I nicknamed the owl Barney. 

One evening, as I was leading Young Pip back from the paddocks to his stable, Barney screeched and swooped down in front of us carrying away a small snake in his sharp talons.  That's when I realized that Barney was actually looking out for us.

A week later, the horses were out grazing in the lush green paddocks when there was a loud cracking and creaking sound, followed by a deafening crash.  A dried up branch of an old Eucalyptus tree had come crashing down, landing right on top of Young Pip's stable bringing the roof down.   I hoped Barney was okay - there was no sign of him.  We moved Young Pip into new digs that day.

A few days later, we were greeted by a familiar hooting and a pair of eyes staring down at us as we sat down to dinner.  Barney had taken up residence in a hole in our tiled roof over the dining table on the verandah.  He cocked his head to one side during our dinner-time conversations, pretending to be listening avidly.  I found him staring at me sternly when I didn't finish what was in my plate as if to say, "No wasting food!"

One fine day, potential buyers for the farm arrived for lunch.  We wished our uncle wouldn't sell our beloved farm but he had explained to us that the offer was much too tempting.  He was negotiating the price over lunch with Ms. O'Neil (who was dressed like she had stepped out of a wild-west cowboy movie), when Barney decided he didn't like the look of the prospective new owners either.  Suddenly Madam 'La-di-da', in her fancy boots and tight jeans with designer glasses on her head, let out a disgusted yell.  Barney had shat right into her plate - PLOP!  Then just for good measure, Barney shrieked and directed another dropping SPLAT onto her silky shirt!  She decided farm life was not for her after all and declared, "I don't want to stay on this dirty farm a minute longer" and stormed out. Ms. O'Neil couldn't get out of there fast enough in her Mercedes.  Luckily, my uncle had a sense of humor and could see the funny side of it.  We all had a good laugh as I'm sure Barney did when he visited Young Pip in his stable later.

Barney had saved the day - he had saved our home, as well as his, from being sold.   A few months later, we heard new shrill shrieking sounds.  Barney had given birth to two baby owlets and was now a mom.  Fancy that!  I had to rename Barney, Bernadette.  Oh, what a Hoot!

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