Oh, no, two!

It’s windy and damp and chilly, but I headed outside anyway. I wanted to keep an eye on the sudden kitten, and used that as an excuse to clean up the trimmed willow branches for the burn pile, and see what I could do with the wattle weaving.

I did not see any sign of the kitten I saw earlier, but then I found this.

The wind was blowing bits of plastic packaging from the shingles, and the poor thing was hissing and spitting at every movement.

I was able to go up to it and pick it up. Unlike the earlier kitten, which seemed okay with that, if more interested in finding mama, but not this one! This one was a little fireball, hissing and spitting and showing me claws. So I quickly put it into the cat house, where it immediately quieted down.

I hung around to see what happened. Caramel showed up and seemed to be looking around. Could Caramel be their mama? I was sure I saw Caramel with slightly older kittens, and that a little grey tabby that we’ve been seeing by itself was hers. That one looks old enough to be newly weaned, though, and these ones are maybe 3 weeks old.

After a while, I saw the first on emerge from under the cat house, looking around. It came out when it saw me, so I was able to pick it up and put it in the cat house with what I assume is its sibling.

Caramel looked around for a while, then took off. Whether that means she’s gone to bring another kitten, or they’re not hers, I have no idea.

One thing I noticed since we set up the water bowl shelter is that the water is not being drunk as quickly. Usually, I’d find at least the metal bowls mostly empty, and half the big plastic bowl gone, too, by morning. Now, they’re still almost full. One reason may be that other critters had been drinking the water overnight, and the new water bowl shelter is preventing that somehow. The other is, the floor of the water bowl shelter is a lot higher. I think the smaller kittens are having a harder time getting into it. I see them drinking from other places now, where they usually wouldn’t.

So, I tried this.

It’s one of the leftover scrap boards we used for the walls and floor of the water bowl shelter. One end is split, so I tucked that end under the sledge the cat house rests on, so it won’t be easily knocked about. If nothing else, the kittens will be curious enough to go up it and into the water bowl shelter. Once its roof is done and the shelter is positioned close to the kibble house, I’ll see if it’s still needed. Depending on how they line up, cats should be able to go from inside the kibble house up into the water bowl house.

I have a shorter board that I’m thinking of putting in front of the cat house entry, so the bitty kitties can use it to get in without help. I just have to find a way to stabilize it while still keeping it temporary.

As an aside, I shared a picture of our set up with the water bowl shelter added in. She asked if she could use the picture to show as an example of how to make cat shelters! She works with rural rescues only, so she sees a lot of farm cats that don’t get a lot of help. A lot of people say to let nature take its course, or to just shoot them. Well, with our outside cats, we know nature will take its course no matter what we do, but we can at least provide them with food, water and shelter by the house, and the closer they are to the house, the better their chances. She wants to use our set up to show people that they can still provide shelter for their feral and semi feral cats, using what’s on hand. Of course, I gave permission to use the photo, and gave more details about them that I hope are useful. Especially about adding heat in the cat house. Which I really hope will be enough for the newest babies!

I wonder if I’ll find another bitty kitty when I go outside again, later?

The Re-Farmer

Cat House Cleanup

This morning, the girls opened up the cat house to give the inside a good cleaning.

Both daughters are in this picture. 😂

One is inside the cat house, clearing out the old straw and debris into the wheelbarrow by the side of it, while the other assisted as much as possible. Mostly by keeping kittens out of the way. The socialized ones REALLY wanted to get underfoot! Speaking of feet, my older daughter flipped a toenail and can’t wear closed toes shoes right now, so her sister banished her from going inside the cat house. Unfortunately, in the winter, the cats do crap in there, rather than going outside into the chill.

I tried to do my part in distracting kitties by putting out some cat treats. Which the kittens that were underfoot mostly ignored, in favour of being underfoot!

Once they did as much as they could and closed things up again, the less socialized cats started coming out of the woodwork, too. 😊

The old straw has been removed completely and, being full of cat poop, isn’t going into the compost. It was added to the burn pile, instead. The giant crochets blanket that was in there is now draped over the kibble house, where it had been hosed down on one side. After a while, it’ll be flipped so the other side can be hosed down. It get really, really heavy when wet!

We don’t have fresh straw to put inside, so for now there is another scrap yarn crocheted blanket in there. I am thinking of moving away from straw completely. Having the heat bulb is great, but even though it’s just a relatively mild terrarium bulb should be fine, I’m still paranoid about straw dust. There are some scrap pieces of high density rubber mats in the barn. I am thinking we might lay some of the rigid insulation we have left on the floor, then covering it with the mats. The cats love scratching the foam insulation, but they won’t be able to scratch those mats. Between the mats and the insulation, it should help keep the shelter floor comfortable in the winter.

I also want to give those windows a good cleaning on the inside, and before winter, we’ll be sure to switch out the battery in the smoke detector we have in there.

With so many kitties this summer, I suspect the cats’ house is going to be very full this winter!

The Re-Farmer

Fall cover, and working out a problem

It’s been rather windy for the past few days.

We certainly won’t be needing to mulch the bulbs we planted! They’re getting an excellent cover right now. 🙂

We’ve got a bit of a challenge in winterizing things outside. One of the things that needs to be done is to replace the rotting skid under the cat house.

After dismantling our goat catcher earlier in the year, we left the frames together. The two 4′ x 8′ ones were prefect to use as guides for our potato beds. When I noticed how rotten the skid under the cat house was, I grabbed one of the frames to check.

It’s actually a better size than what’s already under there! Right now, only one side rests completely on the length of the skid, while the other rests on the skid at only 2 points. That’s the side that also had the little addition, where the entrance is. There is nothing supporting the weight of the entry at all, other than the floor beams.

The problem is, this thing is incredibly heavy. My brother had managed to move it onto his trailer all by himself, but he did that by putting straps around the skid. We need to take it off the skid, then put a new one underneath. The whole thing will be on bricks to keep the wood from contacting the ground, and I plan to add more under the entry to support it, as well.

We discussed taking the roof right off, since that’s where a lot of the weight it, but we are already hearing crackling of wood every time we raise it. It’s already got a lot of years on it, and we’d like to be able to use it for quite a few more! Once we have it on a new skid, set up a bit closer to the house for the extension cord to reach, it will hopefully never need to be moved again until it’s no longer usable. Another part of the problem is the lack of tools. We don’t even have a bar we could use to lever it – there was one, but it was among the things that disappeared while the place was empty.

We will have to make do with whatever we can find!

The Re-Farmer

All aglow, and yard helper

The cat house we now have to provide the outside kitties shelter for the winter has power to it. There are two outlets inside, one of which has a light plugged into it. We’ve never been able to plug it in. The nearest source of power is in the old kitchen. We’ve got an extension cord going through the window that we use, but it wasn’t long enough to reach the cat house.

Yesterday, I was able to pick up a new outdoor 25ft extension cord.

It just barely reached!

But reach, it did!

The problem is, I’m not sure how much the cats will use it, all lit up like that. It’s a 100 watt bulb (under a protective, waterproof cover), so it will also help with warmth a little bit, but I am thinking we might want to find some way to create a shaded area more conducive to sleep.

As for warmth, we’ve been looking at different possibilities, but the biggest issue is one of safety. Most types of heaters would not do well enclosed in a small space full of flax straw and a bunch of cats that like to scratch and dig. My daughter, however, thought that maybe a terrarium heater might work. When clearing out the shelves in my mother’s old bedroom, I did find a red heat bulb for chicks, but it’s a 500 watt bulb. We could get a terrarium bulb in black or blue, that’s 100 or 150 watts – or a no-light ceramic heater that screws in like a light bulb. Like this. (not an affiliate link) I think that would be much safer than some of the warming mats we’ve been looking at.

In fact, I just interrupted writing this post to ask my husband to find a ceramic heater type on Amazon Prime to order. This is not something we would be able to find locally.

Solution found! 🙂 I think the cats will be much happier with that. Since the cat house has three windows in it, they will still have daylight, or even moonlight, rather than being blinded. We still have a couple of sheets of rigid insulation we can add to the walls or under the roof.

Maybe not the walls. They like to use it as scratching posts! 😀

Meanwhile, we still need to replace the skid under it. When we do, we can move the whole thing a little bit closer to the house, to give the new extension cord some slack. I’ll also be picking up one of those waterproof cord protector boxes, since it will definitely end up buried in snow at some point.

I left the cat house plugged in last night, to see if the cats would use it while lit up. When I came out this morning, I didn’t see any cats in it – though I did see cats on it! 😀 Unfortunately, looking through the window, I did see that the cats have been pooping in a corner. *sigh* That didn’t take long! 😦

This little baby looks ready to help me with the yard work!

She was actually hunting leaves blown around by the wind. 😀

I was actually able to pet her, Rosencrantz AND her brother this morning, while feeding them!

I’ve been calling this one Little Braveheart, but the girls have named her Tissue, because she looks like tissue paper blowing in the wind as she runs across the yard.

What do you thing? Braveheart or Tissue?

I’ve been calling her brother the oh-so-original “Tabby”, but the girls have been calling him Nostril, because he had one black nostril. I was telling my husband this, and he immediately went to “Nostril-damus.”

I think we have a winner! 😀

The Re-Farmer