The coyote population has been fierce this year. Out of the 4 kittens we imported to the farm last year, Crazy Uncle Boaz is the last survivor.
Starting out with the simple name Boaz, he was a fluffy kitten a little smaller than the rest of his family but he looked bigger because of all that fur.
Now fully grown he has specific mannerisms. He would rather flop around at your feet to get attention than to rub up against your legs and he loves to be held with his belly up in the air so you can pet there easily.
He is also a very talkative cat. When I walk to the show barn for feeding time I can hear him coming from the garden or the brush line on the other side of the pasture.
Mrrow, mrrow, mrrow he calls with each step. Alerting not only me but the black Grandma Cat and the 4 remaining kittens from this spring batch. Frick and Frack (they are the two slick-haired black kittens that I cannot tell apart), Fuzzy Zeller, and Peg Leg Pete. The kittens get all riled up because Crazy Uncle Boaz is on his way.
Boaz will then stretch out right in front of me as I try to feed bales of hay or when I need to reach into the 2000 lb. grain bag. It seems like there is a big lump of cat every time I reach out.
My well used garden cart is upside down in the show barn. With its 4 tires facing skyward, it reminds me of a turtle that has been flipped on its back unable to right itself.
However, this cart is flipped for a good reason. It seems that the dogs have taken a fancy to sneaking out into the barn and stealing the cat food that we keep out there for the single purpose of keeping the mouse hunters where we need the rodent control.
This old garden cart does the trick. There is a handle on the front half with a cut out spot in the mesh, it is just big enough for a cat to squeak through but not big enough for the dogs. The cats do not hesitate to crawl right in and many times 4 can be trying to eat at the same time but it is really snug in the eating area.
The mesh on the bottom, that is now the top covering, makes it easy to pour a cup or two of kitty kibble through right into their food bowl without moving the structure.
With the late season garden coming on strong, this cat haven may just be reclaimed for fruit and vegetable duty.
The kittens are seemingly always hungry and when new kibble gets set out for the barn cats, the kittens are right int the middle of the feeding frenzy.
Boaz the large spotted cat, seems unconcerned about the amount of activity going on around him because he got his mouthfuls downed before the black Grandma cat and the kittens joined him for dinner.
Grandma cat has a little trouble eating because every time she sticks her head into the chow-bowl a kitten has fully climbed inside to for easy munching.
The larger cats have been hunting the fence line and have been bringing the kittens rodents and birds to snack on between meals along with both Mama Cat and Grandma cat nursing. All in all the kittens are content and well fed.
The mother cats had their litters behind the big hay stack in the barn. I had gotten a glimpse or two the other day, shortly after seeing a few of them, the mothers moved them from the barn to the boards stacked up under the tin roof of the shop.
Daily, we see the mother cats allowing the kittens to travel farther and farther from the safety of the stack. It is hard to get a good count but it looks like there are about 6 kittens all shades of black with one being a dark colored calico with one white back paw.
It is a communal arrangement with both mother cats coming and going for nursing and bathing duties.
With double the milk supply available, the kittens are growing rapidly at this stage and soon will be outside most of the time. We try to touch and talk to the little ones every day so they are not totally feral. We need them to trust us so we can use them at the barns to control mice and rats.
The barn is neutral territory for the dogs and cats on the farm. It has become the understanding that no dog shall chase a cat while on the premises and no cat shall tear any dog a new one when miffed.
The barn is cat home base. They live here and are fed here (these are the cats that also go along the brushy fencelines for vermin), but there is an air on dominance in the barn and the dogs respect the feline area, usually.
Today the truce is holding while the dance and sniff preliminaries are started. Jackson the dog is particularly checking out the new smells of nursing and kittens on both cats, and the cats are allowing indiscriminate nosing while purring and rubbing on the dog.
No combat activities today, all is calm in the barn.
Both Momma Cat (the calico) and Grandma Cat (jet-black) are pregnant.
The four boy kittens we imported last year did the trick. Cats only carry their kittens for 67 days so we are watching closely as it seems that Valentines Day was very eventful for the two females.
Momma Cat was the only one I could capture with a picture since Grandma is a little skittish especially when I have the camera pointed her direction.
Two litters will help the barn cat population with the mice and rats that like to use the hay as a refuge. Both Momma and Grandma are good hunters and they train their offspring to find prey both inside the barn and out along the brushy fence line.
I caught a glimpse of Gabriel’s feet as he was sitting under the old tin roof of the shop. I had to crouch down just to get this much of him in a picture.
He was watching out for birds, not hiding, but hunting.
The springtime birds have shown up en masse and the flitty movements keep the cats occupied for hours.
Chores went on without him this morning.
Apparently bird watching is more important than keeping me company while I feed the cows in the barn.