Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Summer Kittens

Our cats and kittens are the healthiest I've ever seen on the farm. We quit giving them milk, and I give them a dollop of my crockpot yogurt or cooked pumpkin every now and then. Pat supplies nutritious soft food packets to go with their dry kibble, and coyotes have pretty much stayed away this year. Things are looking up for the feline population. Yay!!

Early this summer, Mrs. Mewer had two babies in an old silo that had no roof and, thus, not much protection from the elements. When we finally figured out where she had the babies, I crawled in through a small lower "window" opening, put down a sheet of plastic, and fixed them a bed-in-a-box. Mom and babies seemed content.
Things went well until a heavy downpour one night in late June. Fortunately, Pat thought of the babies, ran out in the rain, crawled through the same little opening I had used, and rescued the almost-drowned rats. She dried them off and got them settled in the milk barn. Once again, Mom and babies were content.
Their harrowing experience gave birth to their names: the little male (on the right) is Agua (Spanish for water) and the female is LaPli (Creole for rain). They're getting to be big kitties already, full of energy and looking for adventure.

As a sidebar to this story, we have an odd little male cat named Ranger. Nursing mother cats allow him to crawl in with the babies as though he's the babysitter. Mom can get out for a little exercise and Ranger keeps the babies warm :-) You can read an article here and see that it's not such an oddity, after all. Below you can see him with LaPli ... and I don't remember where Agua was!

In July, Mom Swirly had 5 kittens in the junk pile where she had had her previous litter. It took me quite a while to find them, but I finally prevailed.
What a surprise to find FIVE orange and white kittens: 4 female and 1 male; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme ... and Mustard (the male). They're so rambunctious now, it's impossible for me to get a decent picture of them, so you can see them in action on the video.

Next up, Mom Marmalade. She's a tiny cat who had her two fat babies in the lumber shed. It wasn't long before she started moving them; first further back in the shed, then back towards the front, then under the lumber pile outside of the shed, and finally into the hay barn. That's where this picture was taken.
Their faces are so fat that I burst out laughing whenever I look at them. Weldon named them Rolly and Polly.

The newest of the summer babies, born at the end of August, don't have names yet. Gretchen is their mom and she always has her babies in the milk barn. Totally unacceptable, but try to tell her that! There are 4 little ones in that box with mom. I guess we'd better come up with some names pretty soon. You see there's plenty of room in the box? That's for Ranger :-)

Anyone need a sweet kitty? Come and get 'em!

Friday, September 07, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Just before dawn breaks, as I'm heading out to feed the cats and kittens, I shouldn't hear the roar of the big tractor. But that's exactly what I hear this morning.  It's bound to mean problems, so I feed the cats and hurry to the back of the hay barn where I can get a view of the free stalls and, hopefully, see what's going on.

Sure enough, there's Weldon on the tractor and Pat standing near a cow lying in a free stall furthest from me. It's obvious that the cow has just had a calf and, as I work my way over to Pat, I see the new baby standing among some of the other cows. But Mama Cow is "hung up" between the upper and lower rungs of the stall divider pipe and can't get free.

The nuts and bolts that hold the stall together have been unscrewed, and Weldon has a big chain wrapped around the stall pipe and attached to the lift forks of the tractor. Slowly he lifts the stall divider pipe up and away from the cow.

However, the cow can't stand. This is when I start to cry (silently, of course) and pray (silently, of course). And this is exactly why I'm not cut out to be a nurse. These kind of things just tear me apart.

So ... Weldon goes to get the hip clamps (for the cow, not for any one of us) and attaches the device to the cow's hips and then chains it to the lift forks of the tractor. (I've seen him do this before, so I'm not in total shock like the first time I saw it.) Slowly, ever so slowly, he lifts the back end of the cow until she is obligated to stand. But she's doesn't want to stand on those back legs! (cry, pray, cry, pray)

Finally (seems like forever, but it was probably just a minute or two) she gingerly puts weight on her back legs and Weldon can remove the hip clamps. (sob, thank you, sob, thank you)

We slowly conduct mom and baby through a gate so they can get out to a nice grassy field and recover from their traumatic morning.
All's well that ends well :-)