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COLUMN: I scoffed at my brother when he said he had spotted a peacock, but later had to eat humble pie

By Caroline McMorran

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COLUMN: The Postie Notes by Pete Malone

At this time of the year lambs have lost their skittishness and are almost predictable. Although, there are still a few with such a close attachment to their ewes that you might think they still harboured a death wish as they run across the road in front of the van.

Another sharp braking manoeuvre, another red light on the driving tracking device and another black mark in the record book. The stags are still fairly common as well.

Pete Malone.
Pete Malone.

At Badanloch, they are quite unconcerned by the sight of the van stopping to admire their velvet covered antlers, but scatter when a camera is brought into view.

I have also been seeing a lot of young rabbits these last few weeks. Birds of prey seem more prolific as well with buzzards often found siting on roadside posts or fence poles although they also won’t sit long enough to be captured digitally. Eagles can be seen in the distance and I have heard that white tailed sea eagles have been spotted foraging in the Armadale area.

Down the Strath there are some peacocks with the gentlemen strutting and posing in all of their finery.

A few years back, my brother-in-law told me he had spotted a peacock outside my house. I gave him one of those looks that said, “more water and less of my good whisky”, but I had to eat humble pie when a few days later my neighbour came seeking assistance to help capture a recently acquired peacock that had escaped.

The neighbours at the post office in Bettyhill have escaping pets as well. Two large bunnies have managed to tunnel their way out of the back garden and can often be found munching away on the grass at the back of the post office that I never seem to have time to cut. One rabbit in particular has developed a taste for the nomadic life, and has been seen crossing the road and making for Paddy’s Brae.

Our neighbours also keep hens. Their free-range antics seem to amuse the customers stopping for fuel. Numbering only two now, they can sometimes be persuaded to take a bit of bread form the customers and I am sure that they have starred in a few YouTube videos or Snapchat photos.

Obviously being a crofting area there are plenty of working dogs on my round. We keep biscuits in the van as a reward for the friendly dogs and a sap to the less so. I am always amazed at how a jumble of fur and feet and snapping teeth fighting to get the first of the gravy bones can turn into an obedient rank of working collies at the sounds of their master’s voice. My colleague Mark, of course, has a dog but prefers Jack Russells. He recently welcomed a new addition to his family – Hughie. It is just a bundle of legs and wagging tail at the moment but then so are most of his dogs.

I think if I could return in a future life I would want to come back as a cat. During the recent spell of hot weather, I was busy carrying things in and out of the post office when spotted my neighbour’s cat over their garden fence. With the sun beating down and me sweating buckets the cat was reclining in the sun while a head was raised imperiously as if in part to acknowledge my presence and in part to make sure that I was slaving away.

I was told once that the ancient Egyptians treated cats as gods and that cats have never forgotten this. It certainly seems like it from my experience. Roll on reincarnation. You can bring me a saucer of milk, please.

Pete Malone is a shopkeeper and postman in Bettyhill.

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