Bodacious The Shepherd Cat
‘The stillness of the moon belies the wind-singing branches and clouds flashing by. ‘Tis nearly 3am, but there’s little sleep to be had as the wind dances through trees still heavy with leaf while their branches rattle across rooftops and rain thunders down, lashing at the window. The first of the autumn storms breaks the season into a rapid departure from summer.’
When Suzanna Crampton returned to the farm in Kilkenny which had been in her family for generations, she set about making her own mark on it whilst cherishing the farming ways of the past. Determined to work with nature and not against it, she began by introducing a flock of Zwartbles sheep alongside alpacas, horses, ‘egg makers’ and dogs, until a rather special cat strolled into her life one day, 11 years ago. Who would have thought when Suzanna took up a suggestion to go and look at a cat in an exotic novelty toilet-seat shop that she’d end up lending a paw to write a delightful and heartwarming memoir on its behalf? However, this is just how it happened and how a fine looking feline in need of a home became Bodacious the Shepherd Cat.
From the very beginning, we hear how Bodacious established himself as the boss of the farm, and how he has come to be Suzanne’s right hand ‘man’ on the farm. As Suzanne began telling stories of her shepherding companion on her blog and Twitter account, Bodacious’ following grew. However, I’m not sure that she ever imagined that Bodacious would end up with his own YouTube channel with over 500k views let alone his own book. Such is his charm. He’s even graced the cover of The Lady.
This is a story of seasons and the little moments capturing the highs and lows of farming life in rural Ireland. The narrator is an avid observer, recounting his experiences and adventures of flocking his herd with a serious injection of humour as he chronicles a year in his life as a shepherd.
You may think it rather odd to have a cat as narrator of country life but believe me, Bodacious is no ordinary cat. His prose is lyrical and witty, anecdotal and charming – in fact, he steals the heart from the first page with his sheer pluckiness. Tales of farming life are interspersed with beautiful descriptions of the landscape within which the farm sits and as one season flows into another, we journey with Bodacious and his Shepherd as they cope with inclement weather, trials and triumphs on the farm, the passage of time on the landscape and the patter of tiny feet at lambing time.
‘All is quiet, only the rustle of straw as the lambing ewe circles and paws the ground in anticipation of her first lamb. Both Overmitt and I purr in the comfort of companionable company. The rest of the flock are all cosy in straw sleeping or methodically quietly chewing their cuds. Time continues gently to weave its way through these calm moments of reflection. It helps to strengthen a pattern woven into the fabric that is our life; it enables us to absorb frenetic events that occur throughout one’s lifetime.’
Although Bodacious is well and truly the storyteller of the book, never far behind are little asides about his dog squad friends Pepper, Bear and the Big Fellow as well as cat shepherd apprentice, Ovenmitt. For those who love a light-hearted countryside yarn, Bodacious The Shepherd Cat makes the perfect read. It’s the sort of cosy fireside reading that we all need in our lives this time of year.