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WILLIAM WARDILL: historian, author, columnist, poet in his ninetieth year

The Farley Mowat Method

Once upon a time in England it was often said that an Englishman’s home was his castle. The expression has failed to emigrate.  A Canadian man’s home is not his castle.  In 2018, the governing of the noble domicile is firmly in the hands of the chatelaine thereof.  The man has only the traditional role of being the guardian of the castle and its environs from attack by undesirable creatures.  He is, so to speak, the dragon-slayer. The undesirable creatures are animals. Herein is a large and growing problem.  If the harasser of the castle were to be a human being, the dragon-slayer could defend the castle with a firearm and suffer no consequences for the deed other than being penalized for having an unregistered weapon and discharging it in an urban area.  But woe betide the dragon-slayer if he causes physical or emotional injury to an animal.

The invaders which most often breach the walls of my castle are stray cats, mule deer and starlings. What to do about them is a matter of grave concern.  In the past century, a town councillor here declared war on starlings. He went out each morning, rain or shine, with his trusty shotgun and potted as many starlings as he could.  Nobody can do that in 2018.  Do harm to the non-humans who dines on everything in the castle garden, including the cats that make a hobby of spraying the row of Romaine lettuce, and the dragon-slayer will be besieged by a troop of PETAphiles.  Male and female PETAphiles care not one wit for the sanctity of the palace garden nor the gustatory preferences of noble castle-dwellers. They are trained to descend in swarms on hapless dragon-slayers, waving placards and shouting slogans.  After they depart to partake of a sumptuous repast of lobster, truffles and champagne, a stern constable is sure to arrive to take the dragon-slayer into custody.

I have wracked my brain trying to find a solution to this problem.  Inviting a cat to reside on the premises wouldn’t get rid of starlings.  Cats prefer to munch on robins. Getting a Doberman with huge, sharp teeth is no solution to the problem of stray cats.  The beast would soon bite a door-to-door salesman or a Jehovah’s Witness or old Ma Perkins bringing a rhubarb pie fresh from her oven. The dog and its male owner would fall into the dreaded clutches of the constabulary faster than you can say deer droppings.

Deer like to eat small trees and break down big ones.  They like to feed on petunias, dahlias and leafy vegetables. They like to scatter their calling cards all over the place.  All stray cats like to break down lily plants and make latrines out of flower beds, but deer are the biggest problem.  By what nefarious process do they know that it is legal, in season, to shoot them south of the railway tracks but they may live safely forever north of the tracks?

Throwing rocks at marauding deer and felines is too risky. I might hit a window or a neighbour’s new car. Slingshots are more accurate and so are pellet guns, but the use of such non-lethal weapons is forbidden.

I have been thinking of using the Farley Mowat Method.  I hope you remember Farley.  He was the Canadian writer barred from entering the U.S. of A. because he was a subversive. {That’s why I liked him so much.)  Well, it seems that when old Farley was living Up North with the wolves, he noticed that the biggest male wolf cocked a hind leg in various locations to mark the boundaries of his territory.  So old Farley went out and cocked his own leg in various locations around his cabin.  Unfortunately in 2018, this can only be done in the dead of night, because our namby-pamby legal code calls it indecent exposure. This is a hurtful term for old dragon-slayers whose exposures are scarcely visible and haven’t been used for an indecent purpose in a coon’s age.

I have also been thinking about booby traps.  I have come up with some fiendish ones for stray cats, but can’t design one suitable for mule deer.

It just isn’t fair.  In the old days St. George could keep a horse in his yard.  He could ride around on that horse with lance and sword to slay dragons and rescue damsels in distress. (The damsels were always high-born; there was a different set of rules for peasant’s daughters.)

There is no level playing field now.  Modern dragon-slayers have neither horses nor weapons.  They can’t slay dragons or rescue damsels in distress or distress damsels who aren’t .

It isn’t fair.

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Copyright ©William Wardill 2018

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