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.
The 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. Continue reading
The barn cats have found the dwindling haystack to be the best vantage point to watch me as I do the chores in the show barn.
One moment they are all poised for a picture and the next a rogue feline will scurry and dart, up and down, through and around, upsetting the tiered balance.
The air pockets between bales make good hidey-holes for sneak attacks. The frantic chase game has been known to startle the two calves, HeartThrob and Cloud who then run willy-nilly out of the barn and into the open pasture away from the cat skirmishes.
Springtime is busy for coyotes. The hunt for food brings them closer to the cows than usual especially when there is calving going on and they have been known to come close to the barns and house in search of dinner in the form of cats. Even though these predators are much smaller that cows, they run in packs and look for those weak newborns or cows struggling to deliver. Overpowering by sheer numbers is their game.
These coyotes were spotted as I looked out my dinning room window. They were just beyond the fence and about 50 yards away. They seem to follow a trail each morning coming from the North where some new pups have been heard yipping in the hills. In the evening, the commute takes them back to the North. We call the trail Coyote Highway since it is used so much by the same group.
One of last years barn kittens has gotten into a habit of declaring when the time for feeding is over and he does it with his own kind of panache.
This guy has made up his mind to call an end to breakfast by sitting on top of the last few crumbs in the bottom of the cat pan.
I have to be careful not to overfeed the barn cats because any leftovers attract skunks and coyotes into the barn. This cat pretends to hide the last bits so that he later have a little snack. He forces me to pick him up to remove him from the pan and take the crumbs back to the house where they will remain locked away from critters until the next feeding time.
Jackson our ‘wild child’ dog is able to wait patiently when he knows that it will be soon time for us to start up the Gator for chores, especially when it’s feeding time.
If he only knew that mere feet below his snout, a black kitten was also waiting for the signal for dinner time to begin on the farm.
The kitten was waiting as patiently as the dog, and knows what is coming since the order of mealtime is run in a pattern.
The motor of the Gator starting sends cattle, dogs and cats into frenzied anticipation with copious amounts of saliva as they anticipate their upcoming meal. (Come to think of it, my tummy starts rumbling about that time of day knowing that our dinner time follows the critters meals.)
Before I start todays post, I need to clarify the name of our mother cat, Pegleg. Someone had commented on the name and was worried that she was disabled or stiff legged. Neither one is correct, Pegleg was so named because she is a dark calico cat with one leg from the knee down being a light orange color which looked very much like a fake leg when she walked. Now onto the story… Continue reading
Out in the barn, or in the fields, when putting hay in the outdoor mangers, or feeding along the ground, as the twine is removed from a hay bale it is tied in a knot. From a single bale to multiples of 6 or more, the twine is ALWAYS tied into a knot before placed in a bag or other receptacle.
I had cut open a bale of hay, tied the twine in a knot an dropped it over by the cats while I finished feeding the bale. It’s one of those things we do, mostly without even thinking about it. As simple as breathing until a visitor to the farm asks why, then a story emerges.
The visitor asked if I tied the knot so the cats would play with the string so I shared the following.
The cats only get to play with the string for a little while until I am done feeding and the reason is not for the cats at all. Once the hay is fed the string goes into the recycle bag, sealed away for safety.
Critters such as cows, especially the young ones up to a year old or more simply love to chew on things. They tongue the latches on gates, they lick and bite at fence posts and bars on the stanchions, they investigate their world by licking, nibbling and sometimes eating. A loose string becomes a game of twisting their tongue around until they can suck it in an chew on it. A single piece of twine off of a bale of hay is several feet long and a calf or young cow who happens to be chewing on one end will keep chewing it in like a super-long strand of spaghetti.
If the twine is then swallowed, it can unwind in the stomach where it could tangle in the digestive tract and strangle the critter from the inside.