Something was amiss in the old shop. We were working around the house, mowing grass and weeding spots in the garden when we noticed mewing sounds, rather frantic mewing sounds coming from the area where we store tack and supplies for the cattle.
The day before we happened to find the carcass of one of the barn cats. Having the road bi-sect the farm leads for dangers for our hunting felines. This carcass was found on the opposite side of the road from the barn and although we do not know what caused the death we do know that it may have been one of the momma cats but scavengers had already begun the work of cleanup so even that was unknown at the time. Continue reading
Strawberries are in full swing. We have been enjoying strawberries on pancakes in the morning, mixed into green salads, sliced and marinated in balsamic vinegar for spinach salads and in the evening on a scoop of ice cream. Oh, and several times throughout the day, a walk through the garden for a handful to eat as I go. Continue reading
There is upheaval in the barns these days. Hay season is a busy time in the field and in the barns. Lots of noise when directing cattle out of the way, movement with equipment the truck, wagon or tractor, bales coming in or being shuffled around, noise from human helpers, and the list goes on. The barn cats are not used to all this excitement but are trying to make do by sneaking in for a meal at odd times instead of the whole pack eating at once.
There are days when I only see a cat or two and at other times I can count all seven of the adults as they gather around the feeding dish.
Today it was only three of the barn cats. The dark calico mama PegLeg, the black mama cat, and the big white tom, Rufus.
For some reason the trio make me think of Oreo cookies as I watch them chow down. With Rufus being nearly twice as big as the diminutive mamas, I think Double Stuff is appropriate. And now that you see it, you are probably craving a cookie yourself.
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.