The chicken farming business has gone remarkably well, I’d say. The little chicks have very quickly turned into adult chickens and are an endless source of amusement.
It really is nice to have a patient husband who actually gets a kick out of me and my chickens, and who has generously facilitated the project. The last couple of weeks, our big afternoon and evening project has been getting a permanent chicken coop built, but for now, the chickens are in a “waste not, want not” sort of establishment. It has worked. Quite well. Brad thinks it is hideous. I think it is rather charming, in an eye-sore sort of way.
We pieced it together from an old coop that used to house a few guineas, back when my man was a kiddo, and which has definitely seen better days. We added a few roosting bars and a way to hang a feeder indoors, and scrapped together a run from some old panels of fencing. My sister in Illinois scavenged a few 3 gallon waterers from a client of hers, and some old bedsheets provided the needed shade in the heat we’ve been having. I will admit the bedsheets added an extra flair of hideousness. But they work.
Brad’s little cow dog, Pearl, has taken an intense liking to the chickens, and Brad says we get the same look on our face when we go down to “check the chickens,” which is Pearl’s cue for fun. Her bunny-hunting has taken a bit of a back seat to her new priority, which is chicken watching. They’ve been doing a little free-ranging and grasshopper management, when Pearl doesn’t obsessively round them up and put them away. I think she likes to have them all where she can see them, since on multiple occasions I’ve caught her flushing them out of the coop itself. She would sit and watch them for hours if she could. Actually, I think she really does sit and watch them for hours. I think she thinks they’re hers.
Yep, Pearl and I have a lot of fun with our chickens.
My cat is always one of the highlights of my day. Her little pointy face, her little purr, her little talking sounds – Cats are one animal that seem to be this close to being able to speak. I look into her wide eyes, and she seems to really have something to say. Ember and I talk back and forth, and she follows me around like a little puppy, or watches me while I’m doing this and that. Precious. After Luna’s sad ending (kidney stones and complications, as far as we know), and Ember urinating blood the week after Luna died, I’ve been more inclined to err on the side of caution (i.e., spoiling the cats) and give the cats a small amount of canned cat food most days, watered, to make sure they’re not dehydrated, since apparently that is one way to try to prevent kidney stones from occurring in the first place. Anyway, the cats aren’t complaining. I sure love their happy eating noises.
These cats may be a little spoiled. But they’re happy. And they love me.
We have another little member of our cat family to introduce to the world. Meet Saber. He looks harmless and innocent, but he is not. This is another one of Kashka’s kittens, from her summer litter. She had four beautiful children, and three of them were adopted away. But not Saber. Which is a good thing. Because as irritating and obnoxious as Saber is, we had all fallen in love with him. He has a motorboat purr, dreamy amber eyes, and a cuddlebug personality. He loves affection. Until today, which was his first solo day outside, we would have to shut him up in the office when we were away from home or at night, since he has a proclivity towards destruction. If any cat was capable of arson, Saber would be. He let us all know that he hated being by himself by howling and yowling as I’ve never heard a cat howl or yowl. And not just any howl or yowl. “Yow-OW-OW-owwwwww!” Seriously. And, unfortunately, because he is so much fun to torment, we occasionally shut him up just to listen to him yowl. And then we let him out again and cuddle him to death. He climbs the beams in our cabin, terrorizes his half-siblings, terrorizes us, then comes and begs for loving, bumping his pink little nose against our faces with his motorboat purr reverberating peacefully.
Cats are such paradoxical creatures. Loving and sweet and terrifying all at once. One moment, the most destructive, active creatures. The next moment, the quietest pictures of peace and tranquility.
Gift giving isn’t much a part of our American culture. I’m not really sure why, but generally speaking we don’t give gifts unless it is reciprocal – For instance, at Christmastime, or for a specific reason, such as birthdays. But Anna surprised me the other night by gifting me little Ember, one of her precious cats! It has been probably close to 10 years since I had my own pet, and this cat just tickles me. Part of Anna’s rationale was that the two boy cats, the more gregarious of the fleet, get a lot of attention while little Ember, who is shy and rather flighty, doesn’t get nearly enough. She is afraid of the dogs, so she won’t volunteer to come into our house unless the coast is completely clear, and her mom has disowned her. Ember’s two best friends are her brother and Ginger, the yellow stray we’ve semi-adopted. Anna figured rightly that I would love on little Ember. The mark of a good friend (or sister) is knowing how to give good gifts, and this was possibly the sweetest gift she could have given me. I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular kitten – She was the smallest of the litter of two, and her big brother would often push her off the teat and leave her meowing pitifully. She was very funny looking as a baby, with strange coloring and huge bat-like ears and an oddly-proportioned face, but she has turned into quite the distinctive little tortoiseshell cat. Ironically, she is also the kitten I named!
And the winter continues! Springtime seemed to be well on its way last week and early this week, with record breaking or nearly record breaking temperatures, but winter is not yet gone. It snowed most of the day yesterday, and got heavier into the evening. There was probably a good 8 inches on my truck this morning, and good deep snow all the way up the driveway! Beautiful!Yesterday afternoon we played out in the snow with the dogs for a little while, trying to get Trixie and Opal better acquainted. Trixie is such a puppy-at-heart still, with all the rambunctious energy of a puppy but with the size and strength of an adult dog. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body, but we don’t quite trust her to play nicely with Opal. She just gets so excited and bowls Opal over and tramples on her, until Opal turns into a shrieking frenzy with her tail between her legs. Opal’s reaction to Trixie was a comical blend of cowardice and puppy indignation. She is a bit of a drama queen. We finally put Trixie on her cable so she would be limited but could still interact with Opal. Opal figured out that she could easily get out of Trixie’s reach, but would come primly to just within Trixie’s reach and allow Trixie to nose her around a little bit before running off. We’re pretty sure Opal is going to be the dominant dog of the pair, if she isn’t already. Snow and puppies. Not a bad deal.
I came inside this afternoon and found Luna, the big grey boy cat, curled up in the sunlight, living the carefree, delightful life of a very happy cat. He is almost ready to be booted back outside after his ordeal as an invalid, which I think he has enjoyed quite a bit, actually. Someone (who will remain anonymous) slammed his tail in the door and degloved two inches of it or so. After receiving this recommendation from a few people, we did minor surgery at home to remove the exposed bone (some of which fell off on its own before we got to it), eventually got him a cone since he kept re-opening the wound, and kept it clean and covered. Thanks to him chewing it back open once or twice before we got him the cone, it took two whole months for the thing to heal, but it is now completely closed up and the hair is all growing back. He is now pretty much as good as new. Dumb cat. What bliss. These cats are so manipulative.