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Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

The weather was beautiful Sunday. So beautiful that my guilt over painting indoors with my dog snoring beside me, finally forced me put up the brushes and get my shoes on for a walk. As I headed outside with Bo, I made note of  where the cats were. Lately Finn, my granddaughter’s cat whose been living here while she is at college, has taken to following me around the yard. I was afraid he might try to follow us on our longer trek. I was not sure he wouldn’t wander off and get lost, or get stuck up a tree (which he has done several times). I saw he was safely indoors. Good, I thought.

We were half way down the driveway when Finn came bounding along. He’s free to go in and out the cat door as he pleases. I had wrongly assumed he was happy snoozing inside.

So, I decided to see how it went.

Finn is very much like Max, the neighborhood cat, who used to follow me, Buddy, and Bo, frequently on our walks. Max is featured in many of my past blogs. Max moved away, and I’ve missed his company. Of course I didn’t have to worry about Max – he was a roaming cat and not mine. But I was not keen to have to tell my granddaughter that I’d lost her cat.

01 How does he know the way

How does he know the way?

Right away Finn took the lead.

02 Bo and Finn Heading for the water

Bo and Finn just rambling on toward the water.

 

03 Beaver Dam Across the way

The beaver dam across the road.

 

05 Someone Else Passed This Way

Stopping for a little scent exploration.

 

04 Following along

Sometimes Finn leads – sometimes he follows.

06 High Alert - Ducks

On high alert – ducks ahead!

 

08 Marsh Path

Someone has made a path through the marsh. Hmmm?

 

09 Finn, come back!

No Finn – come back!

 

10 Not a good idea

That’s not a great idea either. Remember how you got stuck up the tree all night?

 

IMG_5468

Thank you!

07 Happy Cat

Happy cat!

 

11 Taking the shortcut home

Taking the short cut back towards home. We went far enough for a first foray.

 

12 Back out on the road

Back on the road.

 

13 Stopped to roll in the dirt

Finn stops for a roll in the sand.

 

14 Heading Home

Heading back home. Finn knows the way. Why do I think he’s roamed farther than the yard before?

 

15 Back safe and sound

Home sweet home, safe and sound.

 

We’ll have to do that again!

(No apologies for all the cat pictures.)

Signing off.

 

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Toward the end of the winter I purchased a bag of organic potatoes. I don’t eat a lot of potato, so I was eventually left with a bunch of sprouting spuds. Instead of tossing them out, I decided to plant them come spring. Which I did. I dug up a weedy area behind the workshop where Audrey raised her chicks last summer. The soil seemed very rich and fertile, so I did nothing except pull up the weeds in a small rectangular area. Then I cut up the potatoes and put them in the ground, with some straw on top.

The potato patch

The potato patch

I almost forgot about them. Much to my surprise, when I finally did think to check and see what was happening, I had ten or so potato plants growing better than any of the vegetables I’d started in the garden. I’ve been blanketing them in straw as they grow which I understand is what one is supposed to do. 

The chicks' A-frame and chicken coop in the background. And lots of weeds and fern around

The chicks’ A-frame and chicken coop in the background. And lots of weeds and fern all around. I’ll have to watch or the potatoes will be over-run.

Two of the girls, watching.

Two of the girls, watching.

The other day I noticed half a dozen strange-looking bugs eating the leaves. I have no idea what these bugs are. The are translucent except for a brown marking that looks like a teddy bear from above. I’ve never seen these bugs before, and all my searches on Google have not come up with anything like them. So, if anyone knows what this bug is, please let me know. 

What are these?

What are these?

It didn't seem able to fly.

It didn’t seem able to fly.

 

 I took the bugs to the chickens, and they were gone in about two seconds. It’s amazing how keen the chickens’ eyes are. Even when I dropped one bug on the ground, the chickens had no trouble seeing it.

This morning I was mowing the grass which had grown almost knee-high with all the rainy days we’ve had. I spotted an unusual spider on one of the white iris. I don’t know this critter either. He’s pretty handsome though. What he does is crawl inside the blossom, pull the petals in around him, and hide there waiting for something – surely not a bee – perhaps a moth of some sort. I don’t know – I couldn’t hang around long enough to find out.

I know it's a spider, but it's not a familiar one.

I know it’s a spider, but it’s not a familiar one.

Visiting Kitty was here this morning for breakfast. She stayed all winter – inside the house, but mostly on the screened porch. Once the snow had melted enough for her to walk, she was gone. She stayed away for weeks, and just when I was sure she’d become someone’s dinner, she showed up again, meowing outside the door for a meal. Her habit at the moment is to show up, have breakfast, and then take off for another span of several weeks. It’s mid afternoon now, and she’s gone again. I think she must have another home somewhere. She doesn’t seem undernourished, even when she’s been gone for a long time. She’s clearly feral, but does allow me to pat her when she is outside. I couldn’t get near her this winter when she was in the house. Bo could though. She loves Bo.

Here's Visiting Kitty, having breakfast this morning.

Here’s Visiting Kitty, having breakfast this morning.

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I’ve been watching the bird house my daughter gave me a few years ago, these past weeks. This is the first year birds have moved in. A pair of chickadees took up residence a while back, and they have been very busy for a while, flying in and out with bugs and grubs. They are so fast that I’ve been unable to photograph them on their way into the house, but when they leave, they pause at the doorstep, so I’ve snapped a few long-range photos.

Abbey with birdhouse in background

Abbey with bird house in background. It is from here that I took all the photos.

Here's Mom heading out for more bugs.

Here’s Mom heading out for more bugs.

 

And here's Dad

And here’s Dad.

This morning I was preparing to head out to the grocery, but thought to check and see if the birds were up and busy. They were – Mom and Dad rushing in and out. When the parents were away from the house, I noticed some movement at the opening. I was surprised that the young were way up near the door. I had envisioned them down at the bottom where they would be safe. I began to worry that one would fall out. So I waited and watched through my binoculars. I had visions of having to rescue a baby bird and put it back into the house. I hung on watching, waiting for Mama to return and tell her babies to behave and get back from the door.

It seemed a longer time than normal waiting for Mom to return. Suddenly a chick poked its head out, and then  flew straight out and over to the hemlock tree fifty feet or so away. Then another chick did the same thing – came to the door and flew off. Then a third. I could see there was still another to go, so I raced to grab my camera, and got back just in time to see chick number four fly out. It was far too fast for my reflexes.

But as luck would have it, there was one more – the timid one. This little chick came to the door and then hopped down onto the ledge and looked around. Mom and Dad were making a racket calling to the little one from the hemlock. Little Chick looked around, cried for Mama, kept looking back at the safety of the nest, and then finally fluffed up its wings and flew off.

Where is everyone?

The last chick. Where is everyone?

Mama!

Mama!

 

Should I go back in there?

Should I go back in there?

Mustering courage.

Okay – I can do this.

 

And then they were gone.

And then they were gone.

The whole thing took less than ten minutes.

I’ve been collecting tidbits to blog about, including Mom and Dad in the bird house doorway, but I was thinking this morning that I needed a focus for the next blog.

As so often happens, Spirit provides.

 

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I went to do the dishes this afternoon, and gazed out the window as I always do, and there, calm as you like, was this beautiful bobcat. Fortunately my camera was handy. (The photos were taken through my dirty kitchen window, I’m afraid.)

How beautiful she is

 

Gazing toward the chicken coop

Gazing toward the chicken coop

Is that a smile?

Is that a smile?

 

She turns to go

She turns to go

 

So magnificent

So magnificent

Look at those big feet

Look at those big feet

Thank you for visiting!

Thank you for visiting!

She hangs out under the hemlocks for a while before heading back into the woods

She hung out under the hemlocks for a while before heading back into the woods

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Kitty was away for only a few days. She returned the morning after Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving survivors also returned, and Resident Kitty lay on the hill threatening to pounce at them.

She’s only playing – she never did pounce

It was a breezy warm day. I decided to initiate my new umbrella clothes line. I’d installed it a week or so earlier and had been waiting for the perfect clothes drying day. The design was far better than I’d anticipated, and the instructions had clearly not been written in China. There’s a plastic sleeve with a rain cap that gets cemented into a hole in which one has put a few inches of gravel. The sleeve is open at the bottom so any unwanted water drains away through a hole in the cement one makes before the cement has dried. When not in use, the clothesline is easily removed and the cap put back on, leaving nothing to obstruct cutting the grass.

Such a good design

Hanging the laundry out took me back to my childhood. Even then it was an enjoyable chore. And though the clothes are stiff when dry, they smell so good, it is well worth a little after-bath abrasion.

A trip down memory lane

That night I watched Kitty from the kitchen. She was on her front porch facing the little door, looking around to make sure she was not being observed. I knew she was going to climb in. I managed to grab my camera and get a blurry photo of her tail disappearing inside.

In she goes (I had to lighten this as it was very dark out – nothing for the camera to focus on)

The next morning she came trotting down the hill again when I let Bo out. She’s too quick for me trying to focus my camera in the dark.

Two-eyed Kitty – one-eyed Bo

I am now able to touch her – just briefly. But she doesn’t hiss or strike back – only looks surprised. “Did something touch my back? What was that?” she says circling to see what has brushed her fur. This morning she stepped into the house. Then looked around puzzled, and retreated to the comfort of the naked sky.

I think it won’t be long before she’s coming into the house for her meals. Then I’ll have to worry about whether she’s neutered. (For that matter, she could be a he – but I don’t think so.) I think she’s young. She plays in the grass like a kitten, leaping about after her tail. I suppose her first foray into the house might be to have kittens. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Look how pretty she (he?) is – here she has emerged from an afternoon snooze in the house

Max hasn’t been around for almost three weeks now. All of us in the neighborhood who are owned by Max are worried. Usually Max responds to my telepathic messages when I’ve been missing him and have started to worry. This time I’m getting no response. His “owners” have moved away, and even though we all took care of him, it would make sense for them to have taken him with them. I’m waiting for a call back to know for certain this is the case. I still keep expecting him to show up and meow to come in.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Resident Kitty’s been here every day, hanging out at the back door, waiting for breakfast and dinner. As the days grew cold, I worried about her at night. I’ve not been able to determine where she’s sleeping, but I couldn’t imagine that the garage or under the tool shed could be cozy places to sleep. So I decided to build a house for her. It took me a few days, and Resident Kitty hung around and watched the whole time. I think she knew it was for her.

I have a lot of wood remnants here from various projects, so the only thing I had to spend a few dollars on was the roof drip edging. I ran out of shingles, but my local hardware store, Belletetes, gave me the five pieces I needed, for free.

Breakfast on the front porch

 

I built the house with a removable top for ease of cleaning. The loft area is separated from the bottom with a board, forming a compartment for insulating straw. I put rigid foam insulation under the raised floor. The inside is filled with straw with hollow area for Kitty to curl up in. I put it on casters so I can move it around.

The morning after I built the house, I let Bo out to pee. It was still dark. When I turned the light on for him, out of the little house, climbed Kitty. She’d slept there. YAY! And she was there then next night as well.

 

Making herself at home

I wish I could say it was a perfect solution for her, but she’s not been around the last few days, so I suspect there’s a barn around here that is a little better protection. I was thinking of getting those warmer things you put in the microwave, but there’s not much point if she’s no longer here. Still, I suspect she’ll be back for a meal at some point, and she may find it a good place when the weather is a little warmer – a place to shelter from the rain.

I enjoyed the project. I’m thinking of painting it come spring. Fun colors!

The chicks are no longer chicks. They all sleep in the big coop now, and only once in a while do I discover one or two at dusk, back on the high perch in the chick’s coop. I don’t  know if they are there due to a lapse in memory, or for old time’s sake. If it’s going to be really cold, I move them. I can’t wait to see the first tiny white egg.

All grown up

 

Abbey – come to see what I’m doing in the pen

 

The hens hang out together in the sun – they seem to know the spot where the sun stays most of the day

 

While I was photographing the hens, I suddenly noticed one of the chicks was outside the pen

One of the chicks has figured out how to get out of the pens. She’s either found a hole that is so far elusive, or she’s flying up and out. Here I was photographing the hens lounging behind the door when I suddenly noticed one of the chicks was outside. She’s done this twice now. It’s a bit worrisome knowing there’s a fox around. I laid out deer fencing on the ground where the fox had been coming in. I’m hoping this is a deterrent. So far, so good.

We’ve had only a dusting of snow so far. This is the first fall I’ve managed to get the garden all turned over and ready for the spring. I was thrilled at how many worms there were. Every shovel full of dirt was loaded with worms. They’d already gone way down ready for the winter. I hope they had enough time to get themselves situated for the cold again after being rudely disturbed.

Ready for spring – the greens are turnips which I’ll harvest in the spring, sweetened by the cold

 

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Enjoying the broccoli remnants

 

I really don’t know what came over me last week, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading about building with cob. This research seems to have burst from the zone of passive interest into a compulsion to act. I decided to build a small, round, hut made of cob. This small structure would be my learning exercise. Mind you, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just going with my gut – so to speak. First I intend to build a frame from saplings and woven branches. This will be covered with straw, and then over that on both sides, I will put the cob.

 

Digging the holes

 

Cob is extremely durable and keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. I’m not really planning to live in this, but I do consider that if I had to, I could. Part of the impetus is my desire to have a safe place to survive if the Earth does ‘shift’, and all the trees around here come down. It is unlikely that the trees will avoid crushing my house – maybe even me too. 

More holes

The first step in this somewhat bizarre compulsion was to find a place that would possibly escape destruction from the trees. Once I found the spot, I spent several days traipsing the woods in search of hard wood saplings about 17 feet tall with no branches to speak of. There are tons of these oak and maple saplings around here since the pine trees are over 100 feet and shut out most of the sunlight.

 

Cementing the poles

Once I had a good supply, I proceeded to cement them into holes in the ground. Then when I had most of them anchored, I began to pull them into a center point at the top. I had pictured a nicely woven join at the center, but I found that it was not all that easy to pull these trees over and get them held down. I ended up with a big mess of rope and tree limbs. But the main purpose is to get the trees in more or less their final position while they are still green and flexible. Come spring, I will undo the bundle and make the top more pleasing.  

 

Getting there – Sweetpea keeps me company

If I do end up making this into a cob structure, what I plan is to weave smaller branches horizontally through the vertical posts, cover them with straw, and then slowly apply the cob inside and out. Cob is made from a mix of clay soil, water, and straw. It takes a long time to build, but it is cost-free (thanks to Mother Nature), and can be molded into windows, doorways, shelves, etc. The base of the hut will need to be stone so that moisture doesn’t wick up through the cob, but if done properly, the little hut should be strong and warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

The dome shaping up

 

Since starting this madness, I have begun to think of other uses for this stick structure. It does occur to me that if I covered it with clear plastic, it might make a usable green house for starting plants in the spring. I could also just make it into a stick hut for the two youngest grandsons – they’d have fun with it. I will wait and see how I feel come spring.

 

Not exactly what I had envisioned

Regardless of what this ends up being, I had a lot of fun doing this, and look forward to the next stages.

Of course, while I was busy  playing, there were lots of other things I could/should have been doing.

I decided to let the birds and other critters have most of the sunflower seeds

I am posting this after coming in from bedding the chickens. I went first to shut in the chicks. I was surprised to find only two. I was pretty sure I’d find the others in the big coop. I knew they weren’t missing – I’d been watching them from the kitchen window just before bedtime.

 

Only two chicks!

And yes, there they were. YAY – it’s been getting cold and I’ve been hoping they would move themselves into the warmer coop. Tomorrow I suspect all four will be in there. Just in time for winter. Aren’t they smart!

Well well, looks who’s moved in!

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