18th July 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Tochts fae Tushie Truncherfaece

Polecats paralyse peerie fokk

Whit a mont wir hed. Da bairns ir fairt tae laeve da howe. Aa dis fine nichts an dey wunna set a claa ootside. But dey hae guid reason.

Dere’s a henhoose doon da hill dat da bairns laek tae veesit. Dey shaste da hens aroond an come home fairly high. Sometimes dey even hae an egg hame wi dem. But dere will be nae eggs for a start. A polecat has killed five o da hens an left da idder five dat fairt dey canna lay.

Meenie an me wir keen tae encourage da bairns back ootside but we kent dey wir richt tae be fairt. Polecats hiv been viciously attackin hens an wild birds on da mainland o Shetlan iver since dey wir slippit here. Dey’ve ony been here for 30 years an dey’ve spread laek mad. Trust humans tae be tae blame.

But dere is mair you wunna ken aboot polecats. Dey ir a graet danger tae peerie fokk. Me an Meenie kent we hed tae tell da bairns da truth. So we set dem doon for an important spaek aboot hoo tae avoid polecats.

“Me an your midder want tae educate you aboot polecats so you can laeve da howe an no be fairt. If you ken hoo tae identify a polecat an bide clear o him, you hae naethin tae faer,” I telt dem.

“Gnomes hae a lok mair experience o bidin near polecats as trows. An dey hiv sent wird tae wis dat wi need tae be wary o dem. Dey claim polecats can paralyse peerie animals tae preserve dem an aet dem laeter. Dey laek frogs, but dey’ve paralysed gnomes an aa. So trows are laekly at risk.

“I dunna want tae geng oot tae play iver agaen,” oobed Guteryaggle.

“Dunna greet, my jewel,” I said. “I’ll tell dee hoo tae spot a polecat an git rid o him.”

So we sat aside da fire an I telt dem aathing I ken aboot polecats. Hoo hit is da biggest o da mammals fae da weasel faimily in Shetlan. When hit is tirn a horrible guff wafts fae hit laek a skunk. Hit has a lang body an tail wi peerie short legs. Hit is broon wi a lichter faece dat looks laek a faase-face. Hit’s a guid disguise as a polecat’s face looks freendly when he isna ava.

I telt dem aboot hoo da polecat shouldna be confused wi da whitrit, or stoat. Whitrits hiv been in Shetlan for centuries an dey irna as veecious. Dey ir peerier wi a distinct yallow belly an a dark tippit tail. In da winter dey might turn white but keep dir dark tail. Whitrits might kill idder things but hiv niver done a trow ony herm.

An da dratsi, or otter, is a guid freend tae trows. We even use dem for transport across lochs or voes. You can ey tell an otter by his webbed feet. Da dratsi has been here nearly as lang as trows. Hit is tocht dat da Vikings introduced dem so dey could use dir skins.

“So Da, du’s telt wis hoo tae ken a polecat fae a whitrit or a dratsi. But whit do we dae if we come face tae face wi wan? Can we stop him fae paralysin wis an haein wis for denner?” axed Snurtysleeves wi anxious een.

“Weel, try dy best tae bide clear, but if du canna den tell him du’s ower tyoch.”

“Ower tyoch?” axed Snurtsleeves lookin confused.

“Yis, du wid be an afo showe for him. Trows live for centuries so wir flesh is braaly tyoch. Even a boy laek dee is aald compared tae idder animals. An wir braaly hairy an aa. Dat wid stick in his troat. Tell him tae geng awa an fin a frog dat will slip doon aesier.”

“Aaricht, Da,” said da bairns afore dey skippit ootside tae play. I joost hoop hit works.

Your guid freend,
Tushie Truncherfaece