The Dog and Cat Hour

Rhoda and her mentor, the Nocturnal Mouse Slayer

Rhoda and her mentor, the Nocturnal Mouse Slayer

This is a pretty typical night for me lately. It is 2:30 AM and I am awake with post-POST-menopausal insomnia. I get up to pee, and on my way to the bathroom, I notice there is a dead baby mole in the dog’s bed. A gift from the cat. I look out the bathroom window and see that the chicken light is still on. Damn. The timer must be discombobulated. I put on some long johns and my slippers and a fleece and go out to the coop.

The chickens look sleepy and grumpy. I apologize to them for keeping them up for more than half the night. The new dog has followed me outside, so we take a pee and poop walk while we’re at it. It really is lovely out; the stars are extraordinary this night. I wander around outside looking at the glorious heavens while Rhoda does her thing, but mostly she’s just sniffing stuff, so we go back inside. She stops by her bowl for a drink of water—at least it’s not the toilet again. I take off my clothes and crawl back into bed and close my eyes to sleep.

The cat brings in a fat semi-dead mouse and drops it at Rhoda’s feet. Rhoda begins to fling it up in the air, catches it and stomps on it as the cat purrs benevolently. Rhoda is the cat’s new kitten. The cat is teaching Rhoda the subtle nuances of Mouse Torture 101. We don’t have any other dogs on the farm at the moment, so Rhoda thinks this is normal. The mouse is screaming hideously. I yell at Rhoda to give me the damn mouse. I chase after her, stark naked, as she runs down the hall with the mouse squeaking in her mouth. She outruns me.

Alrighty then, beastly brats. I slam the bedroom door shut. I crawl back into bed. Tom has been gently snoring through the whole torturous ordeal. It is 3-fricking-o’clock in the morning and I am just closing my eyes when Tom yells loudly in his sleep.

“WHAT?!?,” he yells.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, startled.

“I thought I heard you call my name. I thought you needed me,” he replies.

“You scared me.” I say.

“You scared ME,” he says.

Poor guy. Ever since his epic run with my dying body in his arms, he’s been having nightmares that I’m in trouble and he needs to save my life again.

I am just falling asleep when I hear BLAM. BLAM. Rhoda is head-butting the door to the bedroom to get in. I get out of bed again and open the door. The cat rushes in and goes back out the bathroom window in search of new victims. Rhoda gets into her bed and starts chomping on the baby mole.

I give up. I turn on my light and start re-reading a great cookbook about cooking with wild foods, Black Fly Stew, Wild Maine Recipes by Kate Gooding. Actually, this was the cookbook that I used when I first started cooking beaver. I adapted her recipe for Beaver Baked Beans, I couldn’t believe how sweet and buttery the beaver was. Why is this meat not considered a gourmet delicacy?

Then I begin to smile. It is 3:30 AM and I have a cat who is teaching the new dog to be a cat, a dog who thinks she IS a cat, a post-traumatic stress disordered husband…and I’m reading about food.

Life is good. Life is very, very good.

~ ~ ~

 Bad Beaver Bean Hole Beans

We do “Bean Hole Beans” at Bad Beaver. Tom made a real bean hole in the ground and lined it with rocks. He makes a raging fire and we cook the beans overnight in the coals.

Bad Beaver Baked Beans

2 pounds dry locally grown Downeast beans

water to cover

2 beaver backstraps

2 yellow onions, roughly sliced

½ C brown sugar

1 T dry mustard

4 T cranberry mustard

½ C molasses

Soak beans all day. Drain in the evening. Parboil.

In Tom’s big cast iron Dutch oven mix all the ingredients—except the beaver—with the beans. Pour water over the beans, enough to cover about an inch above the beans. Lay the beaver backstraps over the top of the beans.

Put the beans in the bean hole and cover with thick embers for the night. Cover with dirt. The men will mostly sit around drinking beer and watching the fire until they get too sleepy. Get up early in the morning to check (the beans—not the men). Be careful to sweep soot off the top of the Dutch oven before removing the lid so ashes don’t fall in the beans (I speak from experience here). Serve for a very hearty breakfast.

Hooray for rednecks and beans ‘n beer for breakfast!

 Coming on Thursday!  “Sister Flo ~ Part I”


Carol Leonard

About Carol Leonard

Carol Leonard is a midwife, a writer and a licensed beaver trapper. She was the first midwife licensed to practice legally in New Hampshire and has attended close to 1,200 babies born safely in their own homes. She was a co-founder of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) representing all midwives in the US, Canada and Mexico. She was elected as the second president of MANA. Carol is the author of the best-selling memoir, Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart, A Midwife’s Saga, Bad Beaver Publishing, 2010. Carol is currently building a 400-acre farm in Ellsworth, Maine with her husband, Tom Lajoie. Her blog BAD BEAVER TALES: Love and Life in Downeast Maine, chronicles their informative and funny journey building their dream homestead on 400 acres of wilderness in Downeast Maine. Carol and Tom are also raising about a hundred beavers there that they argue about on a daily basis. These blog posts will be a collection of tales not just about Bad Beaver the place, but stories that meander around in her life, past and present—at the same time, Bad Beaver is where it all leads. As a writer friend says, “These stories from Bad Beaver are, at turns, brave, beautiful and just plain badass.”