Lucky Two

Lucky Two



When I walked into the barn that evening, Nancy, who owns the property where I keep my horses, was staring up into the hay loft. I was surprised to see her there, as she’s usually finished feeding and cleaning up after her two goats (Nibbles and Nana) by the time I get there to care for my Tara and Fuersti. I rarely see Nancy. To be honest, this elderly woman hasn’t been very pleasant to me the five months my horses have shared space with her goats. (Oh, and what an event their first meeting was. The goats had been raised with horses and loved their company. When I brought my horses to the property, the goats approached them with what looked like joy, but my Fuersti was so terrified that he stood glued to the spot, trembling. I’d never seen anything like it.)


So Nancy was in the barn staring up at the hay loft (which is empty by the way; we both keep our hay on solid ground). When she heard me come in, she turned, shaded her eyes from the early evening sun beaming in through the front door, and mumbled something about her stubborn cat.


Nancy has two barn cats, a white one whose name I don’t remember and a black one, Lucky Two. (Why Lucky? Because Nancy rescued him from a bad situation. Why Two? Well, there had been another Lucky, also rescued from unpleasantness. Nancy is very good to critters; it’s people she seems to have a bit of a problem with.) Lucky was the one staring down from the hay loft, meowing his fool head off.


“He won’t come down,” she said, not amused. Each evening, Nancy puts the cats in a room on the side of the barn to keep them safe from coyotes. It’s a good-sized room, with food and water, a clean litter box, several cat beds, and a window they can sit in and survey the yard. It’s rarely a problem getting the cats to go into their room; they just follow Nancy to the door and go in, anticipating their dinner.


But this silly critter (who’s lucky now?) was apparently stuck in the hay loft. He’d lived at Nancy’s place for a year and a half and had never ventured up there before, but there he was. Beneath the loft were two large bales of hay stacked on top of each other. I threw a small bale on top of them, climbed up, and tried to get Lucky down, but I couldn’t quite reach him. Another bale might have brought me close enough, but I’m not a fan of heights—or of falling onto a concrete floor backwards—so I got down.


Nancy figured Lucky would get down on his own. I wasn’t so sure, as his previous caregivers (and I use the term loosely) had removed his front claws. If he did manage to get down, we’d just have to hope he had the sense to stay in the barn, to not go out prowling and become coyote food.


When I got to the barn the next morning, Lucky was still in the hay loft, meowing pitifully. I carried on a conversation with him the whole time I was there. I told him that Nancy would be having someone come over that day to get him down (which she had told me she would do if he didn’t get down himself).


But that evening, Lucky was still in the hay loft. I couldn’t believe it. I started stressing that this old woman was just going to leave this poor cat up there!


Long story short, it turns out that Lucky had been retrieved from the loft earlier that day and then had gone back up. He was retrieved from the hay loft two additional times over the next few days: once by the woman who delivered my hay and once from some folks from the Conservation District who were tending a native plant garden on Nancy’s property. After each rescue and a  night in the cat room, Lucky climbed back up.


After the third rescue followed by “Oh, I think I’ll climb up here again and cry pitifully until someone gets me down,” Nancy had had enough. She called me at home (which she never does; it seems she goes out of her way to avoid me, sometimes leaving me unfriendly notes, like the one telling me to put my baling twine in my own garbage, followed by removing the garbage barrel from the barn). She said, very nicely—as I had initiated two of the rescues—to leave Lucky up there. “He’s a smart cat,” she said. He can get down. If he’s up there for two days, we’ll have to do something, but leave him there for now.”


“OK,” I said. “I won’t do anything unless you ask me to.”


That evening, when I went to the barn, Lucky was still up in the hay loft, meowing as though he had been abandoned by every living creature on earth. Instead of carrying on a conversation with him, asking him to come down, telling him how sorry I was that he was caught up there, promising to get him some help but asking him to try, I simply said, “No one is going to help you. You have to get down yourself.” Then I turned away and ignored him.


Fifteen minutes later, the darned cat was down, standing by the barn door, waiting for me to walk him to the cat room and let him in, which I did.


I wrote Nancy a note about what had happened. She responded, “Yippee! Cat smarts and human smarts have saved the day.” Yippee? Who was this woman, this writer of friendly notes?


As you might expect, although I have to admit that I did not, Lucky climbed up in the hay loft a couple more times over the next few days, and cried pitifully when I walked into the barn. But when I told him he was on his own, he somehow, miraculously found his way down. The last time, he hit the ground with a bit of a thud. I’m thinking he may find some other way to amuse himself now—at least for awhile.


Since the week-long drama of the goofy (but very sweet) barn cat, Nancy has begun to speak to me, even smile at me. Which makes me wonder if Lucky Two isn’t actually even smarter than either of us women thought.


I hope you will be moved to share your thoughts.

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2 Replies to “Lucky Two”

  1. Hi Pam,

    I hope the warmer interactions between you and Nancy continue–without Lucky2 having to resort to antics like climbing up to the hay loft again. I wonder what else might have been going on for Lucky2. His (her?) crazy antics are also an interesting reflection on how well-meaning attempts to rescue others can sometimes backfire and just enable more of the same behaviors.

  2. Interesting observation . . .

    I imagine something else is going on with him, too, but the behavior has stopped for the moment. I will have to take the time to have a conversation with him sometime soon.

    Nancy has gone back to her elusive ways, but least I don’t feel like a trespasser when I come on her property to care for my horses.

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