A Tax Of The Furry Sharks

We haven’t had the warmest or driest of summers, and the weather for August is presenting more like September, but we have managed a fair number of days with chairs set up in the orchard. There have to be four chairs, one each for myself and my partner, and then one each for the cats. Strictly speaking, there are four cats, but only two of them insist on spending sunny days relaxing in the orchard, and only one of them can get there under his own power.

Oatmeal is not well. Seriously not well. He can walk back from the orchard, but only does that because his food is at the house, and it can take him an hour to cover the distance. Piper can do it in under two minutes, unless there are chickens chasing him, in which case it’s under one minute, with dirty looks for his people if the kitchen door isn’t open for the dash to safety.

Preparing the nose for action

So, Oatmeal requires transport. He rides up to the Orchard on my arm, which isn’t too stressful as he is down from the six-plus kilos of his prime and is now a very bony three kilos. He expects all the facilities to be ready when he arrives. The chair should have the towel on it, there should be water in the bowl, and food on hand, to be presented on demand and kept out of reach of chickens at all other times.

Above all, the service staff should be attentive and ready to respond promptly to the needs of the Compass Nose. When something is required, Oatmeal sits, quite neatly in spite of his serious leg problems, and points his nose in the air to indicate what’s needed. Unfortunately, the Compass Nose only ever points upwards, so the service staff have to become adept at interpreting the requirements.

This is your final warning

Piper, six and a half kilos of prime, podgy cat, makes his own way to the orchard and indicates his needs by walking on the service staff.

Now that everything is set in the orchard we can sit, have lunch out there, and supper if the evening doesn’t cool off too fast. Provided, of course, that the necessary taxes are paid.

The lunch menu is quite simple – home-baked bread, cheese, fruit, and just at present, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes out of the greenhouse. Supper can be more varied, but just lately there has been a definite theme of egg-related dishes since the hens are laying prolifically.

The taxation system is also quite simple. It is calculated in cheese or omelette and collected primarily by Piper. Oatmeal prefers his kitty biscuits, or perhaps this revenue collection business is really far too much effort. So, Piper gives meaningful looks at plates, whilst Oatmeal quests with the Compass Nose.

The Compass Nose, to the point.

In the period before the taxes fall due, Piper can be invisible, having wandered off to explore the hedges, check for interesting things under the apples trees, and generally be absent, but his finely honed senses detect the subliminal signs of plates passing nearby and as if from nowhere he is there, in the chair, appraising the taxable items.

The rule is simple – three pieces of cheese and he is done. Once the levy has been paid, he will stop trying to balance his weight, on one paw, on the nerve in your leg, and retreat to his own chair to let the tribute settle in. That said, we have noticed in recent weeks that the rule of three now applies to each diner separately.

That’s my bit, right there.

The supper tax is rather more complex. An omelette is easy and just like the cheese – three pieces, per diner, and then you are free to eat. Pancakes, though, are a different matter, and have to be paid in related food-stuffs. The clear winner, in general, is yoghurt because we often have diced melon, or something similar to go with the pancake, dressed with syrups, sauces and miscellaneous dairy products.

Take me home, driver.

On those occasions that cream is involved, the taxation rate increases dramatically.

We haven’t risked tuna-related meals in the orchard since last year when Ginge (three kilos of single-minded persistence) climbed out along the length of my out-stretched arm in her attempt to reach my plate and apply the basic sea-food taxation rate of one hundred percent. (When we eat indoors, that’s Squeak’s territory and Ginge doesn’t venture in.)

There it is, the taxation system, apart from transporting Oatmeal back to the house. He is generally very clear when it is time for his medication, although it’s probably the concealing snack that comes wrapped around the medication that is foremost in his furry mind.

There’s only three certain things in this world, death, taxes and cats.

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This was written for the #BlogBattle August prompt of Tribute.

5 thoughts on “A Tax Of The Furry Sharks”

    1. Oatmeal is… we have no idea what he is. He joined us as a hugely spooky roving feral tom intermittently living in the barn and turned into a lap-loving, sofa-hogging cuddle-monster. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Both entertaining and informative, one of the aspects I really enjoyed was contemplating the comfort of dining in an orchard. Cooperative weather is always nice, but there’s also not much more enjoyable than watching the resident animals go about doing their thing. The personality of all the ‘characters’ definitely shines through, and I love the title! Interesting that the chickens will chase Piper – do they have that attitude toward all the cats, or is he just the one they can get away with picking on? Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Sometimes the prompt just matches perfectly with whatever is happening here.

      The orchard was never supposed to be an orchard…

      We fenced off an area for the geese, then thought about planting fruit trees, and then put a hedgerow around it to shield from the easterlies…
      The geese never got to use it because they would have destroyed the trees, and suddenly there was an orchard, with a living wind-break. 🙂

      Cats and chickens is one of those strange and variable conflicts. Chickens know that they are descended from dinosaurs and therefore cats are just a snack. Cats know that chickens are overgrown sparrows and therefore are just a snack. However, the relative strengths of that knowledge vary from animal to animal.

      Piper, for whatever reason, only sees the dinosaur, not the sparrow. Ginge and Oatmeal seem to have established an even balance with the chickens.

      Thug, who lives half a mile down the road (but no longer visits, probably due to the roving feral tom we call Genghis Cat), only sees the sparrow and thinks chasing chickens is a fun game, and don’t they fly well when you hit them with a big paw.

      On the other hand, a few years back we had a hen we called Cat Chaser, who clearly saw nothing but her inner dinosaur, and actively stalked cats to chase them off.

      Liked by 1 person

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