Time To Move Out Of The Way

Keeping a passel of cats around works for farm management. The feral barn cats are needed to control rodents that would just love to nest in our hay bales that are stacked so nice and neat and tidy. The cats are pretty wild, a couple of them allow me to pet them or they will nuzzle my leg if I sit down too long, but mostly they are just on barn duty.

black catThe number of cats vary since we seem to lose them to the elements easily out here. But currently we have Peg-leg who we believe has a new batch of kittens hidden somewhere underneath the shop, Striped Tom, White Tom, Fuzzy Wuzzy (female) and three black pint sized cats. One of the black cats had her kittens about a week ago. I found them as I was moving the old hay out of the way and cleaning the barn for this years supply to be brought in.

two dark colored week old kittensThere were only about 40 bales left from last years harvest. When I moved the row of bales that had been stacked against the wall I found these two little cuties. They do not have their eyes open yet and are not able to do much movement at all except for crawling over each other for comfort and warmth.

I finished moving the bales out of the way and away from the wall and made a new shelter for the cat family out of the moved bales. I even took a small carpet sample that was laying around and used it to pad their new digs and tucked the babies in with a secure sneak-hole for the pint sized mama to fit through.

As you could imagine, mama was not thrilled about her babies getting moved without her permission. She is too wild to let me touch her so I had to pick an opportune time (while she was busy eating a bite of kibble) to move the kittens. Once finished with her snack, she promptly grabbed a kitten and dragged it back to where her original bale fortress had protected them only to find that I had already swept the area clean.

She was dismayed that the area looked different but set the first baby down at the base of a ladder and went to grab the second newborn. While she was gone, I snatched #1 and headed back to the new den. Mama and I did this square dance three or four times, she would take one out and drop it by the ladder to go get another one, I would pick up the one by the ladder and move it back to the new spot as she was dragging one from the new spot to the ladder. Before long, one of the kittens protested and wanted to eat. She nestled in the new den and let the babies nurse. By then the area smelled correct and seemed homey enough that she no longer tried to move them.

Many people think the life of a farmer is work, work, work, but it is far from that. And besides, who else can say they spent an afternoon shuffling kittens, peering at moths or spicing up an elk herd?


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