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.


Farmgirl_dk: said...

Wonderful pictures. Love that one you took after you peeked around from the garage - great shot!
And Ainsley dear is adorable and such a good kitten caretaker! Look, she's even teaching one how to swing! :-)

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

The "S" word! I don't envy you or the farmers in your area.

Even with the snow story, the bright sunny pictures where great. Especially the lion tamer, and Oh of course, I love the header!

Cindy said...

They are soooo cute! I can tell Ainsely is absolutely in LOVE! I love that their grandma is taking such good care of them. Your story about them playing with their food before eating it cracked me up.

Sarah said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I love kittens! We had so many when I was a child. One time we had a litter of seven. I hope my children get to have kittens someday (when we're not living in an apartment).