Animal Update

I still owe you all a tour of the grounds, but there have been some significant animal updates since I last addressed the subject. Here’s the quick rundown:

Dogs

No change. Teddy is as friendly as ever, and Buddy works up enough energy to wag his tail when I greet him in the mornings.

Cats

It’s been a bad week for cats. When I came downstairs for breakfast on Wednesday morning, I saw this note on the counter.

R.I.P. Max
This type of thing seems to happen with some regularity on the farm. Being situated on a road with frequent semi-truck traffic has its disadvantages, and there’s seemingly no end to the stories about the gruesome road deaths of various family animals over the years.

Before I arrived on the farm, I posted some musings on the nature of death. It’s good that I prepared myself for this ahead of time, as it made the surprise end to Max a little less shocking. Still, I’ll never get to learn the nature of Max’s sad face, and I’ll regret that I rebuffed his attempts to sit on my computer the night before he died.

The next morning, I awoke to questions about whether I had seen Mr. Bumble recently. I had not, but I mentioned that a Bumble-sized cat had attempted to crawl into bed with me early that morning — attempts I refused to allow. When no sign of Bumble could be found, I wondered if my rejection of cat affection had become a kiss of death.

This fear was only partially allayed by learning that my visitor in the night had been Patches. We were able to conclude this because Bumble had, like Max before him, been killed in the road sometimes during the night. I then learned that Bumble was a nephew of Max, and that neither of them had been considered particularly smart. Is there a genetic predisposition to making fatal mistakes in judging traffic patterns?

On a more positive cat note, I snagged a picture of the outdoor cat that looks a bit like Tony.an outdoor cat

There is another outdoor cat that I haven’t seen since my first day or two here, but I’ve been told she is pregnant. There will soon be mystery kittens running around.

The remaining indoor cats are handling the deaths of their roommates with the same attitude that one bring to news of the sky being blue. Jack sits next to me right now, sleeping as comfortably as can be.

Chickens

The chickens are growing quickly. Many of them have doubled in size in just this past week. Kathy also went back to the store to pick up a few more chicks. She got two guinea hens (one of whom has since gotten sick and died) and two Welsummers (in honor of my Dutch heritage). So I now have two Dutch chickens with whom I can practice my language skills (“kukeleku” or, according to Google, “buig een krabbeldoo”).

Ducks

Who knows? There are five of them. I’ve learned the difference between normal quacking and the panicked sounds that accompany mating, so there’s no further need to look up from my work to see what passes for romance in the duck world.

Photo Tour of the Farm, Part I: Animal Edition

There are a lot of animals here on the farm. I’m usually bad at remembering names of pets, but somehow these guys have all stuck in my mind. Get to know them as well as I have with this helpful photo tour.

Dogs

Teddy

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Teddy’s my best bud on the farm. He sleeps outside and always greets me when I come out for the day. He loves playing fetch with a softball, but he tends to tire out after just a couple tosses. We’ve developed a morning routine where I’ll sit on a log in the sunshine and he rests his head on my arm and leg. I give him some good scratching for a few minutes (sometimes Jack tries to get in on the action, too) and then head off to the greenhouse.

Buddy

BuddyBuddy’s pretty old and mostly blind. He spends most of his time lying next to his food and water bowl reminiscing about old times. A few times a day he’ll come outside and wander the property. If I can give him a few scratches without Teddy trying to butt in and steal them, Buddy seems to appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

Indoor/Outdoor Cats

Jack

Jack Jack is a cat after my own heart. He’s a wanderer by nature, and he’s been known to go on three-day hikes without letting anyone know. A consistent member of our evening hike to watch the sunset, he likes being around people as much as he seems to enjoy his solitude. With his calm nature, he’s also a welcome visitor to the greenhouse. After taking a few sniffs of whatever plants I’m transplanting, he usually falls asleep in the bucket chair by the wood stove.

 

 

 

Antonio (Tony)

TonyEveryone says Tony is the crazy cat. I don’t disagree. He chases the softball when I’m playing fetch. He tries to climb my legs. He is usually seen bolting from one place to another for little to no reason. We love him.

 

 

 

 

 

Pixel

PixelI didn’t meet Pixel until a few days into my stay on the farm. He seems relatively shy, but he’s quickly warmed up to me. I’ve never seen a more innocent and trusting face on a cat. What he lacks in a tail he makes up for in body weight, and he’s the sort of cat that you have to sort of force outside to get some fresh air and run around. Still, he’s joined us on a few evening hikes; maybe he’s just a summer cat.

 

Patches (L) and Max (R)

Patches and MaxI don’t know much about Patches. He seems pretty young, and he had a date with the neuterist the other day. The main quality I’ve learned about him is that he purrs loudly, sometimes for no reason that I can tell.

Max is interesting. His sad face fascinates me. I can’t tell if he’s actually depressed or just looks that way. We had a good bonding session the other night when he shed his fur all over my computer as I gave him a good scratching. He takes an active role in his petting. He shoves his head into your hands, and every 30 seconds he’ll transition to light biting. There is much more to learn about this guy.

 

Mr. Bumble

Mr. BumbleBumble also took the trip to be neutered last week. He’s a skittish cat around me, but he likes having his head scratched. His eyes are a beautiful orange that remind me of a harvest moon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cat with eyes like that before.

 

 

 

 

 

The Mysterious Outdoor Cats

The Bills (with Patches in the Middle)

The BillsThere are an indeterminate number of outdoor cats. They tend to stay hidden, but I’ve counted four distinct cats so far. The Bills are the two remaining black cats from a litter of about six black cats. Instead of trying to tell them apart, they were all named Bill. Of the outdoor cats, I’ve gotten closest to the two Bills. They like to hang around the front door and sit on the porch with the other cats.

 

 

 

Mystery Cat #1

Mystery CatNow that you’ve seen this picture, you know as much about this cat as I do.

 

 

 

 

Mystery Cat #2

There’s another outdoor cat, but I haven’t gotten a shot of him yet. He looks like a smaller version of Tony but with a shorter tail.

 

Chickens

The Old-Timers

ChickensThis rooster and hen are the holdovers from last year’s flock. The rest of those hens stopped laying eggs and were converted into chicken soup. Such is life. I haven’t really gotten to know these two well yet. This is as close as I’ve gotten to them. I’ve spotted the rooster perched in a conifer, so I believe they roost there in the evenings.

 

Baby Chicks

ChicksThese are the baby chicks we picked up yesterday. There are 14 in total, and they’re a mix of Barred Rock, Isa Brown, New Hampshire Brown, Rhode Island Red, and Wyandotte breeds. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about them soon.

 

 

 

Ducks

ducksHere are three of the five ducks. They usually travel together, but they split up whenever I try to photograph them all. They quack and try to mate a lot. There are a few ponds on the property, and their day is spent wandering from one to the other.

 

 

 

 

 

ducks 2Here are the other two ducks.

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, that should do it for the animals. Tune in again soon for a tour of the more-easily-photographed buildings and general layout.