First Batch Debut

We knew the striped barn cat had her kittens a few weeks ago even though she kept showing up for mealtime. Her chubby little body had changed to being slender with a swaying  milk belly. I was pretty sure she had the kittens along the wall of the barn behind what was left of the stack of hay from last years harvest.

As I was moving the last dozen bales away from the wall to clean the area for our new harvest, the mama cat brought out her two kittens for a bite of lunch before moving the family to a safer spot. The two kittens have their eyes open and are moving around but not ready to start eating solid food yet.

The bigger of the two babies is striped just like the mama, the other is more calico colored like many of the other barn cats.

Our barn cats are friendly to a point, I get the opportunity to pet one now and again usually when they are eating, but they don’t make a habit with affection and considered feral. We don’t like to create too much human interference so that they can concentrate on their job of keeping the barns free of vermin.

We are looking forward to this newest batch of two to begin their chores.

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Sunshine At Breakfast

With the sun bright and beautiful I headed out to the barn for the morning feeding. The two young calves decided it was more important to sunbathe rather than get up and eat. While the rest of the animals were contentedly munching, the two were sprawled out soaking up the rays.

The critters outside the barn were busy with the same idea. Only some of the cats came around when I put food into their dish. The others were out in the warm weather enjoying the sun and dreaming of fresh fowl in the form of yellow finches that were flitting out around the pasture.

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Not Content With Ground Level

Jackson the dog does not make it out the the show barn very often, he is usually banned from the area because he likes to chase the barn cats and steal their food. So it was a rare treat for him to accompany me while I fed the cows and the cats in this barn the other day.

Before we headed out to the barn, I made him stop and look me in the eye. I told him point blank that there was to be no foolishness today, he was not allowed to chase any cat that he came across and by all means he was to stay away from their food pan. He gave me his usual goofy smile and a wag of his tail, he seemed to know what I was saying and I believed he promised to behave.

I was very surprised when he ran right past the pile of cats as I poured their share of kibble into their dinner pan. Jackson was on a mission and ran to the hay stack at the back of the barn where he commenced rubbing along the bales which is one of his favorite barn activities. I went to work feeding the cows and took my attention off Jackson for a couple of moments before I realized that he was no longer on the ground floor. I walked both ways around the tractor and peeked at the cats and their dinner but they didn’t seem disturbed. That was when I looked up to see Jackson at the top of the hay stack instead of the ground floor.

Something up there smelled enticing and he figured out how to scale the pile to investigate. I found him with only his tail sticking out of a gap in the bales. Either one of the cats left him a surprise or there is a rat trying to outsmart the cats. I may have to invite Jackson out to the barn with me more often until I get to the bottom of this mystery.

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What I Thought Was A Bird

Working in the barn bundling kindling or firewood is not the nose to the grindstone kind of job. We have music playing in the background, the dogs come by to check on us now and again, we can watch the traffic that travels along the county road and I watch out the open end of the barn to see clouds as they scuttle across the sky, or the distinct V shape of honkers heading one direction or another. While doing all this we do make bundles but it is more enjoyment than work.

Something white in a distant treeThe other day while bundling I noticed a rather large white something in a tree over by the show barn. Between bundles, I saw that a big white bird kept moving around the top of a crab apple tree, then moved over to a tall elderberry tree. I had to stop bundling to grab my camera to get a picture since we do not normally see big white birds around this area. Continue reading

Black Bean

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

Make Mine Double Stuff

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.

Two black cats with a white cat in the middleToday 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.

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. Continue reading

Multi-Layered Cats

Scattered cats on the haystack.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.


At The Edge Of The Fence

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.