The barn cats have been on edge, all prickly with fright and rather skittery. Something not welcome has been visiting their home and they are not happy about it.
This is the nearly adult kitten, Frick. He had found a safe hole in the hay wall. His eyes were wide and he was not coming out until I had the food served and all the other cats were joining in the feast.
At first I thought that it was a raccoon coming in to steal cat food. I may have misjudged the size of the varmint that has been thieving. I had been covering the food dish at night to discourage the raiding, this has been rather traumatic for the cats since they have been used to 24 hour snacking, but I wanted to limit access by the marauder.
I had used a large feed tub to cover the cats dish. But the cats were able to scoot everything around until they could dislodge the tub and scatter the cat food everywhere. Then I tried parking the garden cart on top of the upside-down grain tub to add weight, something was able to roll the cart off, lift the tub and lick the cat pan clean. Raccoons are either deploying troops in groups or we have a bigger critter to be on the lookout for.
We had been savoring the last few apples still hanging on the trees. The last Rome apple dropped yesterday. The Honey Crisp tree has barely a bucket full still hanging, and the frosts have taken away the crispness yet they are still sweet and juicy. Red delicious apples finished falling off the tree a couple of days ago, the Jonathan apples are also done. The yellow delicious are still crisp and flavorful with only a handful of small sized apples left.
The raccoons have been raiding the last of the apple crop, they are sneaking in at night under the cover of darkness. In the morning we had been finding chewed cores littering the ground beneath the trees. With the apples dwindling, I believe the pesky varmints are trying to move to the barn to steal the cat food that is left over from the evening meal. Continue reading
Our brand new bull that I had talked about getting from Eastern Oregon has been settling into our farm well. He American Angus Association registration papers arrived in the mail so he is now an official member of the Schmidlin Farm.
KC Night Prowler was born 1/13/2017 and his registration number is 18890503.
We have him put up in the show barn in his own large pen. It is the penthouse suite of the farm, he has his own manger and private water tank. We have kept him segregated until he is comfortable in his surroundings, he still has the two heifers in the pen next to him and the bunch of two cows and their calves that have weaning clips installed and three yearling heifers just across the barn from him. So he is not lonely. Also, he is getting used to the barn cats. With four newly adult cats and five fluffy ball kittens scampering around, it has taken some time for the new bull to adjust to all the activity.
Yesterday, one of the adult-ish cats, Frick, brought a gray squirrel, a newly acquired hunting trophy, into the barn. He deposited it in the hay right in the middle of Prowler’s manger where the writhing/hissing conglomeration of felines carried out the dismembering process. The bull didn’t care for the gift and all the cat action, so he kept to the other side of the barn until I retrieved what was left of the carcass, tossed out all the old hay, cleaned the area and refilled the manger with fresh hay, grain and a few chopped apples. The bull was skittish at first but is now back to normal schedule.
In a few days he will be moved out into the bull pen with the other bulls around the same age where they will grow together in space to graze and lounge under tall fir and cedar trees.
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.