Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kitten update. Again.

The snow took four days to go away. We expected it to disappear by the next day. Our neighbor who has lived here his entire life said that he's never seen anything like it - a full foot of snow in twenty-four hours in early October. He asked real old-timers who were the age he is now when he was born and they echoed that. This snowfall was a real anomaly. Our farmer neighbor with acres of beans drying on the ground didn't appreciate it - set him back quite a bit. Now he's trying to squeeze in bean harvesting and sugar beet harvesting at the same time. He's not happy.

But the snow *is* gone for now. It will be back soon - likely on Halloween night while we're trick-or-treating - but we're enjoying the beautiful fall weather while we can.

Want to see some cute kitten pictures? I've got some cute kitten pictures.

How about this one?

I put the kittens outside at night as soon as they could take it. I put them in a rabbit pen we have that I nestled in the bush that they'd been born in. During the day we came out to feed them. I wanted them to start to associate with the other cats and have a better chance of becoming barn cats.

I called the other cats (Ghandi and Aradia) over when I put out a bowl of goat milk for them. I expected Ghandi and Aradia to hog the milk, but I wanted them to associate with the kittens and maybe, just maybe, the kittens would learn a thing or two from these great mousers.

The adult cats exceeded my expectations. Look at Ghandi, sitting there, so mellow. 'Course he had a reason to be mellow - he'd just come out of my catnip bush. He probably just hadn't hit the hungry phase yet.

He's been great with them. He lets them play with his tail but knocks them down when they cross the line. He's been wonderful for teaching them cat manners.

He finally took his turn when they were done.

Aradia - their grandmother - is the best mouser on our place. Hannah and I once saw her go after two teenaged mice in the grain bin. She caught one in her mouth, ran to the other one, threw the first one in the air, grabbed the second one, caught the first one as it came down, shoved it in her mouth also and walked out of the bin with two heads on one side of her mouth and two tails hanging out the other end. I've never seen anything like it. Desiree, who had just had these kittens, met her mother about twenty feet outside of the grain bin. Aradia dropped one of the mice for her and walked off with the other one.

Aradia's generous that way. I never knew just how *mothering* she was, though. She's taken on these kittens.

Not that they always appreciate it.

But she insists on cleanliness if they're to have the perks.

And the perks from her are worth having. Once, while my camera was misplaced, I walked out to hang laundry and found Aradia standing guard over a mouse that wanted very badly to get away from three curious kittens. She'd brought it to them and was letting them play with it and then eat it. How did I get so lucky? Fantastic cat. They will undoubtedly learn skills from her if they pay attention.

Then there's her mother love. I've snuck around from the garage one day just to get this picture:

A few days later, I heard a funny mewling noise while hanging laundry and looked over to see Toulouse nursing on Aradia.

Why would he be nursing on his grandmother? Because she's in milk because she has these five babies in the shed and, amazingly, she was amenable to letting the orphaned kittens nurse.

When she saw me go in to see her new babies, she ran after me and ordered me out. That's her "you're in my space" look. I left.

Those kittens are much bigger now. I should get new pictures. They're running around - or trying to. They're the equivalent of toddlers just learning to run. My orphan kittens are like annoyed older siblings. I've seen Marie turn around and say "Go away" (accompanied by a stern paw slap) and then look at me as if to say "MooooOOOM, he won't leave me alone!"

I really enjoy having the babies around, but I don't think I enjoy it as much as Ainsley.

Nobody enjoys them quite as much as Ainsley.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Summer is over.

Winter is here.

I've left my camera three hours away. If I had it, I'd take a picture of our winter wonderland. It started snowing sometime in the night and hasn't stopped all day. I expected an inch, max, that would melt by early afternoon. That's the way fall segues into winter here. A few test runs, with snow falling and not sticking, then falling and sticking for a few hours, then a few days, then winter is here in earnest. We've skipped fall this year.

I had to chore in my wellies today because the snow was four inches deep and still coming down. It was peaceful, as it always is when you chore while snow is falling. Did I say falling? Can you say the snow is falling if it's "falling" horizontally instead of vertically? It was peaceful if I kept my head turned to the east. Turning my head to the west resulted in snow stinging my eyes.

The poultry were tucked up in their coops, peering curiously outside.

My husband's new batch of sheep, plus the sheep he's brought home from his parent's place were relaxing behind the wind break with the pony and the goats. The cats were playing in the hay shed.

So, in memory of warmer times, here's a picture of Hannah and her cousins picking peas this summer. These are Arizona cousins. I don't believe they've ever seen snow fall down, much less across.

And this. My sister took this picture of me taking my sister-in-law for a child-free (almost - Ains is sitting in front of my feet) ride. Our neighbor's fields are behind us, one of our "pastures" is in front of us. More than thirty years as a dairy feedlot. Four of our "pastures" are like this, two that we'd like to develop into actual pastures, one into a larger garden, and one to stay a dry lot. What do you think? I encouraged weed growth this year by watering a lot, hoping that the weed's roots would help break the ground up, but that ground is still so hard. I'm not sure what steps to take to make the transitions. Something to research this winter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The kittens are getting bigger.

And getting a lot of love. When the girls got new aprons from their grandma, the kittens were the first things they put in them.