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Cats of the Farm: The Pride Goes On

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  • Original Poster

    Cotton cracked me up this morning. He always sits on the porch railing beside the steps when I come out in the morning. He’s not on the porch floor with the rest of the feline welcoming committee. I greet everybody else, pet everybody else, dispense the first aliquot of food on the porch floor. Then I go over to the steps and pet Cotton before walking down to the yard. In this way, he gets a more private morning greeting, though he gets delayed pats and breakfast. Obviously, he considers it worth the trade-off.

    There were high winds last night, and the porch chair had turned over and blown against the far rails. So this morning, after coming out, greeting everybody else, petting everybody else, and dispensing the first aliquot of food on the porch floor, I picked up the porch chair, since I was on that far side of the porch by then anyway because I put the food over there. I righted the chair, lectured it to stay put, started to head for the steps – and there was no Cotton. I knew he had been right there at his assigned duty station just a minute before. I took a quick visual inventory of the cats eating on the porch floor, in case he had been extra hungry and decided to join the communal line early after all. No Cotton. I looked across the front yard, where a few cats were sitting there waiting for me to head to other cat feeding stations. No Cotton.

    Just then, he meowed from behind me. I turned around, and there he was, still on the porch rail. Obviously, when I stopped on the far side of the porch to pick up the chair, the one move in this morning dance that was not per our usual choreography, he had walked on the railing around to the far side since I was lingering there unusually. As I picked the chair up while turning around, I unwittingly turned my back on him in his transit. So I wound up facing where he had been, while he was right behind me. He hadn’t said a word to that point, hadn’t been protesting, had just shifted duty station to where the action apparently was occurring this morning.

    I dutifully petted Cotton with him on the porch rails. Then he jumped down and started to eat. He WILL be petted on the porch rails, privately and not in community greeting, before he will eat. This is How It Should Be Done, even if I do sometimes for unexplained reasons insert other steps in the morning agenda as well.
    Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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    • Original Poster

      My adventure yesterday, with a perplexed audience of critters.

      We had ice on the ridge Wednesday night. The temp then warmed up yesterday, so the ice was melting, which was nice because last night's/today's snow didn't wind up on top of it. But at one point, the internet went out.

      This is a Big Deal for me, because that internet link is my income. I cannot work without it. And I'm paid just on the work I produce. No internet = no work = no income. I waited a few minutes. The internet is pretty stable, but on the occasions when it does blip out, it usually just takes a coffee break and then returns. Nope, 30 minutes, not even an attempt to connect. I looked up my data screen of official numbers, and my signal was 15. Which is officially Not Good At All.

      It was then that I thought of something that happened a few times in similar ice, then melting weather at the old house. The satellite can take being covered with ice, but at the point when the ice is melting and the ice sheet starts to slip down off the dish, it perplexes the signal. Totally covered dish is fine, clear dish is fine, but part clear and part ice isn't fine. So I went out to look at my dish, which in the new house, unlike the old, is on the roof. Yep, it was about 1/4 clear at the top, 3/4 covered. The ice sheet was slowly slipping down.

      At this point, I gathered my two one-gallon plastic containers, filled them with hot water, and went out. I got the extension ladder, climbed up twice with one gallon each time, and did pause for a final assessment with me still on the ladder at the top. If that roof had been icy slick, I wouldn't have gone on, but it was at a mush stage. I climbed on over onto the roof. It was quite nice, actually. I had extensive experience on the roof of the old house chasing leaks, and the roof of the new house was both infinitely more solid and had much more traction. The shingles were grippy, the angle not too bad. I then walked over to the satellite dish and poured two gallons of hot water on it. Success! The ice sheet finished its slide off, and by the time I got back inside, the internet was up.

      The amusing postscript to this process: Those two one-gallon plastic containers are used to feed critters. I dip one partly full of cat food, head outside, dispense the cat food, dish up two servings of grain, and then go feed the horses.

      Yesterday, I had filled them with hot water. When I turned around from the dish to head back to the ladder, the two horses were in the pasture at attention, and a feline semicircle waited at the bottom of the ladder, all looking up. None of the animals could understand at all why I was feeding the roof.
      Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

      Comment


      • This thread is my favorite Menagerie thread.

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        • Original Poster

          A few new pics. Two posts, this one cats alone, next one the hut.

          First, Solo. This is the look I get when I myself am playing with string (cross stitch), but the cat on my lap knows that she is forbidden to play with my string. She knows and abides by the rules. But there is no rule against looking.

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          My poor, half-naked mini panther is improving.

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          A nice some-of-the-family shot. Cotton on top, of course. Down on the floor, we have Cory (under the chair), Sarge, Bagheera, and Satin. For some reason, this shot reminded me of the opening song to the Brady Bunch.

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          Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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          • Original Poster

            And back to work on the hut after several days of weather. Today, I painted the boards that will be used in the porch, and they are leaning against the hut to dry before going into place. Otherwise, they might have been stepped on while wet. I also started with the foundation layer for the porch.

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            Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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            • Original Poster

              The hut now has two coats of paint and one coat of waterproofing. I'm starting the porch.

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              By the way, here's a shot from ages ago that I ran back across recently. This was Genuine Risk (Jenny). She liked water. She liked it to the point that I had to battle her for possession of the bathtub. Soon as I turned it on, here Jenny came.

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              Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

              Comment


              • looking good, are the kitties still going inside?
                "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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                • Original Poster

                  They are still enjoying it.

                  "Have you got a dead body in here?" My mail carrier today as I went out to meet him and collect two boxes containing 40 pounds of litter, a big bag of Taste of the Wild, and a case of Temptations (and a few things for me, but the weight came from the cat items. TP doesn't add much).
                  Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                  • Original Poster

                    It's ready to have the trim painted, but once again, we will interrupt this project for a few days to let a weather front pass through.

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                    Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                    • Original Poster

                      That works. The porch shields the door holes nicely. Multiple cats were in it, but they came out to eat when they heard me.

                      I've had an offer from a relative of some environmentally friendly wood/corn insulation stuff that protected refrigerated foods. I told her to ship some on over, sounds intriguing. I had avoided actually insulating the inside because of both toxin and clawing concerns, but if this is harmlessly shreddable, it might add some benefit for them along the walls and roof as long as it may survive.

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                      Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                      • Original Poster

                        I just looked out the office window and saw a cat on the far side of the forsythia, rubbing face against the branches as if checking out the buds. I mentally tried to identify the cat, even as I was typing, then came to attention as my roll call came up empty. I then looked more closely.

                        This wasn't the greatest view, as it was through a window, across the yard, and through a bush, but that was not one of my cats (to my knowledge). While I was watching and debating this, the cat turned away and casually walked out from behind the bush and crossed the yard.

                        It's a dark swirled tabby, gray with black design, medium hair with a bit of a poofy tail. I watched him (?) stroll out of sight for a good minute. I have never seen that cat in my life.

                        Dadgumit, I thought I took that vacancy sign down. Thanks to Cat Lady, I am not short of cats on the farm. This one definitely seemed familiar with the grounds and at home. Good at hiding, though, if he's been around for a while. He had no idea I was watching.

                        I'm reminded again of the invisible-to-people Statue of Feline Liberty, which we used to joke stood in Mom's yard and which I think she left to me. It stands holding the torch high with an inscription that reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to eat free."

                        The below picture of three of mine from yesterday afternoon amused me. Study in different types. Pharaoh has never been quite bit robust and is still just a bit thin. The runt of that dumped litter, took lots of vet appointments to get healthy initially, and still requires more maintenance than any other feline on the place. Contrast to Bagheera, full sibling, who is a full-bodied, muscular panther. On color, those two should be identical, but they look quite different in general healthy appearance and coat. They have the same sense of humor, though.

                        Atticus, in the middle, doesn't have a care in the world, physically or mentally. He is a perpetually happy-go-lucky fellow. Not the sharpest crayon in the box, but beautiful.

                        Solo, the former feral, is full of both food and personality. I think she remembers scavenging in her colony. She is the one cat on the place, indoor and out, who could stand to lose a few pounds.
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                        Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                        • Original Poster

                          White columns for the hut.

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                          Cotton with a package of braces. Cory the one-eared looks on.

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                          Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                          • Original Poster

                            This hut has definitely been a more extensive project than it looked mentally. Several times something else was needed, and every step took longer than anticipated. But it is rock solid, weighing several hundred pounds, and the cats seem to be happy to move in.

                            Here are a few inspecting tonight.

                            Sarge.

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                            Rascal

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                            Satin (and Cory's tail)

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                            Bagheera, Cory, and Satin's whiskers

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                            Bagheera, Cory, and Satin

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                            Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                            • Original Poster

                              A crash from the great room. Not a thunk or a minor thud. Unquestionably a "Houston, we have a PROBLEM" level crash.

                              A 911 call wouldn't have inspired more prompt action. I ran into the great room, and two fleeing cats passed me heading the other direction at full gallop. I took note of the guilty for future reference but continued on toward the scene of the crime instead of pursuing the escapees.

                              Beyond the table, tucked to one side of the large window onto the porch, had been one of my two houseplants, one that dates clear back to Mom. It had stood in a metal decorative plant stand that also was Mom's and is far older than the plant. Now, though, in spite of that plant being to the side of the window to allow cats the preferred first-class seats directly in front of the glass, the whole thing was on its side, the metal stand horizontal, the poor plant half uprooted, and a splatter of dirt and rocks (to prevent digging) fanning out across both the floor and the rug beneath the table.

                              I knelt and started to salvage the situation, repotting the plant, scooping up handfuls of dirt, and growling all the while. I have been told by a few people in life that I'm a very talented growler, and the cats know when I'm annoyed. Four of them, the two culprits and two others, kept a respectful distance. Only Pilgrim stayed where he was, on the table, within two feet over and up of the scene of the crime. He had been there when I ran in, and he stayed there through the cleanup, lying calmly, white paws tucked in, wearing a feline T-shirt that proclaimed, "It wasn't me."

                              I got the plant tucked back in as best as I could, then turned to the metal stand. Here it became apparent that one of the three legs was bent. The cats do have a habit of rubbing against the legs of that thing, which I had noted many times in the past, but this activity was two feet below the plant, and it never occurred to me that they might actually damage it. Aging metal, probably not the highest grade of metal even when new, and feline affectionate itchiness had combined to cause that leg to slowly bend over until the plant lost balance. I have no doubt from the reactions of the cats that those two were combing jaws against it when it fell, but the structural collapse had probably been building for a while.

                              I tried to bend the leg back, then realized the futility of that. It would never be sound enough to hold the weight of a plant again. No, its useful life on earth was done. I remember the day Mom bought it. She got it at a garage sale when I was eight, and she loved the design and swoops of the thing. She always took pride in it both indoors and, in season, on her porch and displayed a prime plant in it.

                              I will take it to the metal recycling center in the next load. I know I could use it for something else, but it was a plant holder, and she loved it as a plant holder, and a wobbly uneven-legged former plant holder wouldn't be great to hold even lighter things and would most likely flip again, especially as the cats would not respect its retirement. No, it's done for. One more piece of Mom's former life, something she cared about, ended.

                              But the important things she left me I still have and will always have, and I ran through the list of those in gratitude, no longer growling, as I vacuumed up the dirt.

                              Faith. Love. Determination. Compassion.

                              That is an inheritance that will never decay.

                              Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                              • Original Poster

                                Funny picture of the week. This is Atticus watching me play with string. He knows that he's not allowed to chase my string, but boy is he wishing he could.

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                                And here's Bagheera, a month post debridement. It's healing slowly, but that was quite a wound. I still shiver looking at him.

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                                Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                                • Original Poster

                                  Cotton just cracked me up.

                                  It’s 7 degrees on the farm, wind chill below that. This weekend, of course, it hits 60. Wacky weather. But last night was a downswing on the winter yo-yo.

                                  I already did chores before feeding self. Given the temp, I took out a nice, warmed, unfrozen container of water along with the cat food. I dispensed nice, warmed, unfrozen water at each water dish on the farm.

                                  So just now, as I went by a window, I saw Cotton at the main cat water dish. He was pawing it, then shaking his foot in distaste, then pawing at it, then revolving to another position on the clock face, repeat. This is odd behavior for Cotton; he doesn’t play in water. No, he sure acted as if it were frozen.

                                  I figured that, since it was 7 degrees right now, the fresh water had already frozen and he couldn’t get a post-breakfast drink. So I got another thing of nice, warmed, unfrozen water and took it out. Cotton had already left, but I called kitty kitty Cotton, and he came back, along with two others not named Cotton.

                                  The dish had an ice layer in the bottom of it from what had frozen last night, but the water on top from this morning was still liquid. I thought maybe he just wanted warm water, so I poured out the other, added new warm water on top, and gave it the finger test; yep, nice, warm, unfrozen water. I splashed in it for him to demonstrate.

                                  He stepped up and, instead of taking a drink, stuck his paw clear down through the warmed water to the ice layer on the bottom. He then pawed it, shook his foot in distaste, pawed it, revolved to another position on the clock face, repeat. He was objecting to the ice layer on the bottom. With a sigh, I retrieved an empty saucer and dished up some nice, warmed, unfrozen water into that, no ice layer on bottom, and offered that to him. Neither he nor the other two cats with me showed any interest. They weren’t thirsty; they had already had a drink.

                                  Cotton was simply objecting to the presence of ice on the farm. Not thirsty, just staging a protest. There should not be ice on the farm. So there.

                                  I agree, Cotton, but I’m not sure what I can do about that. Hang on, fellow. This weekend will be 60.
                                  Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    I saw the marbled tabby again, and not a distant view through a window and a bush this time. I went out to feed, and as I was making the first delivery on the porch, here came some assorted stragglers, and the stranger was right in line. The cat realized me the same instant I realized him, and it froze. Stood indecisive for a minute, then turned away, sniffed a few noses,and retreated under a building. I put a little food at that building hole, and the cat did get it once I retreated.

                                    This is a striking cat. Definite swirl pattern, darker in back and on right than left. Interesting face, almost oriental, lighter than body.

                                    The cats knew it. It's definitely hanging around, just didn't know me and is wary.

                                    Look carefully in the first picture; this is the light side. Rascal left, stranger mid lower, below the strawberry bed, Cotton above.
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