Saturday, November 22, 2014

Farm cat

A couple of months ago, likely mid-late September, my husband came home one night later than usual (this was before he switched to night shift), and found a black/grey cat in the carport. He almost did away with it, but didn't want to wake me to that unexpected noise, and by the next morning, I'd convinced him that since we have the chickens, gardens, and yard fenced, having a carport cat wouldn't cause cat-dog interactions, and wouldn't be likely to have cat poo in the gardens, and I wasn't too worried about my chickens from a cat.

Anyway, I figured the cat was an abandoned or fire/flood refugee cat, likely partly wild or feral, but would be great at controlling our rodent population without resorting to poison like I had been on the brink of for a good six months to a year, after a mouse chewed the kids car seat straps (unsafe costly inconvenient event, that). I picked up some cat food at the feed store, and we started feeding it. For the first while it wasn't eating much every night, and some nights it didn't eat anything at all. By the start of November we'd convinced ourselves that it must belong to someone down valley, and be wandering up. But that would be about 3/4 of a mile, which didn't seem like it would be conducive to a long-lived cat (lots of hungry coyotes around here!).
First picture, first daylight sighting, on the right side of the door opening. She came out to visit us from somewhere in the mess of a garage, hungry for attention, happy in the sunlight.
But we kept feeding it, as the group we thought were possible owners were renters who wouldn't be staying the winter, and we figured maybe we would be adopted when the renters left. Then Little M spotted a calico late one afternoon, shortly after sunset. We followed it and it ran up valley. We were puzzled, but wondered if there were just a fair number of cats roaming around after the fires.

The calico started coming nightly shortly after dark, but that was all we were seeing of her. We started assuming that she, too, must have another home. Then last week we saw the black cat for the first time since that first time my husband saw it. And there was the calico with it. That's when we put it together where they must be from. A quick phone call to a neighbor up valley and it came out that they used to belong to the folks up from us whose house and outbuildings burned in the initial push through of the fire that first night. The cats had been rehomed to one of the adjacent neighbors in their little group of three, and were supposed to be staying in their barn. In fact, these new owners said that they had never seen the calico out of the barn.
Giggling sisters sledding down the hill, photobomb courtesy of the calico cat

Well we felt really bad and stopped feeding them, not wanting to put these two in danger of coyotes, tempting them down for food, especially after dark as they had been doing. We assumed it would end, the nightly visits. Little M was devastated, and I started keeping an eye out for people needing new homes for barn cats. Then one night my husband left the garage door open over night, and the next morning he saw the calico cat stalking/playing in the field beside the garage.

Not wanting to shut her in the garage, not knowing how much time she was spending in there vs in her 'old' barn, we left the garage open, but didn't see her again. Then yesterday/night we got about 7 inches of snow, our first snowfall, and with it dumping down outside I assumed she would have headed back home. Except there she was, looking for food, right on schedule. I checked tracks with flashlight, and saw some coming out and then back into the garage (I assumed). I went back out with some food, and went to the garage, then came back, and with no new tracks out of the garage, there she was in the carport, friendly as could be.
Thanks for the breakfast, and the petting.

I rethought it, and she must be staying in the carport, and have ventured into and out of the garage, the tracks I assumed meant she was living in the garage. I called Little M out, and she was able to pet her as well. I have no clue what prompted the change, before last night anytime we rattled the doorknob when she was eating in the carport she would be off like a flash, but suddenly it snowed and she decided she liked us.

Anything interesting on your mitten? Treats perhaps? No? Oh well, back to breakfast.
Today we were out playing in the snow, and she was out with us the whole time. I don't know whether to assume she's now adopted us, or if she will venture back and forth still, but she's a cute friendly little calico, and I know exactly how Little M feels about her ('can I go back out and check on my cat?' - all day!). We will never have an inside cat, so outside she will have to stay, weathering the cold, snow, wet, heat, coyotes, cougars, and all. But from all accounts she's always been a barn cat, which is why her initial owners weren't able to take her with them where they are staying now while they figure out what their next steps are. So maybe she will be fine. And hopefully she will eat lots of mice and no birds and snakes... As a biologist I have a very hard time with outdoor cats, but in our situation, where I was on the verge of putting poison in our vehicles for the mice, which I feel has worse/bioaccumulating/longer term impacts on the ecosystem, I guess I'll have to live with her eating some birds and snakes. As long as she kills mice while she is at it...

The pictures here were the first I was able to take of her, today, the first time in daylight that I had more than a fleeting glimpse of her, during our frequent excursions outside to play in the snow, and 'take care of' the cat, who Little M has of course named Golden Rabbit, although she generally just calls her Cat, or The Cat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


We found out after the fire evacuation that we were expecting a third baby - due in late March/early April. We hadn't quite decided if we wanted to try for a third, and were definitely planning to wait another year, but the stress of the fire apparently changed my body's mind. Oops! We are very excited, especially because we recently found out that this third (and last!) baby is a boy!

Obviously I've been pretty absent around the blog these last few months, there has been a lot going on to get our property back in shape after the fire and flood, and being pregnant on top of that has been enough to handle. Now that I'm past 20 weeks (and the shingles episode of weeks 17+, yikes!), and my energy level is getting back into the normal realm, I'm hopeful that I will begin to post more regularly again!

Yup, definitely pregnant. Starting to not fit in anything but pregnancy shirts, and even some of those are too short! Yikes third pregnancy!
I certainly have a backlog of fun pictures to put up, as we did manage to have some fun this summer and fall :)
About when I started visibly showing, during a visit to my parents home in Ontario Canada earlier this fall (pics to come!)

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