Monday, March 25, 2013
Digging Out - Anybody want a Kitten?
The Sun seems to want to poke out a little so I am not going to stress about the snow removal much until later this afternoon. I may not need to. I really dislike shoveling and plowing snow it always seems like a waste of time to do something I know nature will take care of shortly on it's own. I have always been surprised at the people that seem to think that is a lazy attitude but it just feels so needless and non-productive to me. The weather guys are already raising the high temps into the 50's by Wednesday and upper 40's tomorrow so my guess is this stuff won't last long at all.
Of course then we will have the mud to deal with all over again.
One of the stray cats that showed up recently decided to have her kittens in the middle of this mess. I really did not think that cat was pregnant to be honest she still looks like a kitten herself and was the first stray to show up that hasn't already been spayed or neutered before being dumped. Seriously we have taken in three strays so far for "fixing" and all of them turned out to be already taken care of in that department besides the ones we could tell were obviously already fixed. I didn't even think this little cat was old enough to have babies yet she is so small. She is also the most fearless thing, always underfoot purring the moment she sees a person. At one point this Winter I was cutting up some logs and looked down to see her sniffing her nose at the end of my chainsaw. While it was running. Any stacking of heavy objects or tossing them around is a constant lesson in looking to see where this little cat is before throwing or moving anything.
Fearless. She also is best buds with all the horses, sheep and even the dog. In fact her and the dog sleep together in his house we have set up in the barn and filled with hay. Or I guess I should say it was their house until Sunday when it became the cat nursery. The poor dog had his head in there looking at the kittens and licking his buddy cat and now is forced to sleep in between the bags of sheep wool. I put some hay down in a little alcove between the new bags of wool for him to snuggle in. He prefers to run around chasing racoons and rabbits all night barking anyway.
Yes this weekend was sheep shearing time so we have bags and bags of sheep wool now covering what little free space we had left in the barn. We also have the entire flock of naked sheep inside the main area to keep em from freezing. This slow coming Spring is kinda making everybody uncomfortable. People, birds, cats, dogs, sheep, bees, even the horses have had their routine changed because the special needs nags now have to be lead to different stalls for feeding. Usually all you have to do is open the gate and even the old blind horse would go right to her stall but now they can't get to them. The blind one especially gets all turned around so you have to lead them in and they are not real patient and cooperative preferring to just go at their own pace as usual the way they have always done. They just don't like going to a different stall.
The barn is stuffed to the gills with misfits, cripples and cast offs. Somehow the Small-Hold has become a magnet for the unwanted and now I have to find homes for four new kittens. Both my mother and my wife have been eye balling the lawnmower and logsplitter storage area the last few days thinking to evict my precious equipment for more space. As if that's gonna happen.
I really wish people would take care of their own responsibilities and stop dumping them on us. Taking care of all these strays is becoming a bit of a burden. The barn is the real problem. It is shelter and has food for just about any critter imaginable and for the most part has no humans around for long stretches especially this time of year. The animals get dumped on the side of the road and head for the only real shelter they see. The few houses nearby of course they can't get into but the barn they can. Then they pick an isolated section of the barn to claim as their own making foraging runs and if they hear one of us coming they hide. In this manner the cats especially manage to stay for at least a few days before someone really notices them. Many a stray won't stick around for long and will only be seen once or twice before disappearing so catching a glimpse of a new cat is not necessarily a warning sign. Slowly they begin to realize no one is going to hurt them or throw rocks at them and they become a little less frantic in hiding before we see them. The tom cats and even the neutered males will eventually move on or begin feral travels and only see the barn as a part of their overall territory. The females however will stake out a section or outbuilding as their own and set up house. Interestingly enough occasionally one of the females will break the mold so to speak and have no issue overlapping or moving across another females territory. This latest little mommy is one of those she goes wherever she wants but not a one of these cats will tolerate being close to another for long. The original barn cat, who was found as a kitten stuffed into our mailbox one afternoon, tries to run the new refugees off but even her territorial attitude has been thwarted and there are too many for her to keep at bay.
To date Sasha birdbane, the only cat who has been able to find her way into the house and was really the first stray to show up, does not claim the barn as part of her territory. She is happy to remain the Queen of the house and has an invisible border that stops about halfway to the barn. She will cross the border occasionally especially when I am working in or around the barn but for the most part she ignores the barn refugees as long as they stay in their place.
Things are not critical yet. We still manage to feed em all and get their shots and other medical care so we don't have some feral, diseased population growing and being birthed here. This latest oops birth was the first one we got surprised with actually having managed to not let that get started at all before. It's just more and more fully grown cats keep showing up. No new dogs though but I believe that is because the last stray dog we got has finally become healthy enough and is large enough to protect his domain. Also he refuses to stay inside for more than a few minutes so he is on constant patrol. I guess he doesn't see any need to adding to the pack or something or the stray dogs we do see figure it is too risky to try and move in.
I know none of this has anything to do with sustainable living or prepping really but it is a growing problem that I never expected would get to this level. It irritates me to no end because like this train wreck of a decline I see us heading towards I am also seeing a final end result here that I am not very comfortable with. I keep analyzing the situation hoping to find a solution I can live with. In a way this maybe an exercise in other more serious concerns because it is highly likely that as things continue to decline the refugees may become larger and more bipedal as well.
If the later comes to pass then a true moral crossroads will be reached and it would be best to have a clear picture and game plan right from the start. Not only a plan but a plan that you are reasonably sure you are experienced at implementing. Like many things in life it is easy to say you will just harden your heart and do what you have to do but for some of us anyway such moves are not easy at all or come naturally. It's best to be prepared in that areas as well.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!