How many? (updated)

As I write this, we are at -22C/-8F, with a wind chill of -28C/-18F. We’ve been leaving the sun room doors propped open, so the cats can have an extra place to shelter in. I also set up the extra ceramic heat bulb in the mini-greenhouse frame. It will only provide warmth for a small area, but enough for a cat or two to curl up below it. I’ve got the bulb pretty high up, which reduces its effectiveness, but ensures no cat can accidentally touch it and get burned.

Peeking through the bathroom window, it seems the cats are finding the bench, and their own body heat, to be far better for keeping warm! There’s also a cat bed under the bench, and there’s usually one of two under there, too.

This morning, however, there were NO cats in the sun room at all. We left the doors propped open all night, making sure to take the kibble bin into the old kitchen. I know some were using it during the night, but there is no food or liquid water in there (just a bowl of ice!) right now. Cats didn’t come in until they could hear me getting food out of the bin in the old kitchen.

When I came outside, there was a stream of kittens that came out of the shelf shelter by the door, and a few more that just stayed at the openings, waiting for me to put handfuls of kibble inside for them.

There is actually five kittens in this photo! Possibly six.

Hold on. Yeah. I saw three little heads squeezed together, after I moved aside the one cat to look. The cat looking at the camera is Colin, who lets us pet him. The other one doesn’t allow pets.

Altogether, I counted “only” 23 cats this morning. I could see two of the bitties wrestling through one of the windows, but didn’t see any outside, so I’m assuming all three were in the cat house.

Today is the 6th. On the 9th, we have four females booked to be fixed. On the 8th, we are delivering them to the cat lady. Which means that tomorrow, we need to close up the four females inside the sun room, with food, water and a litter box, for the night, so we can easily find and get them into carriers the next day. Or maybe bring them into the cat cage I put together in my office. Lord knows, Plushy sure has been wanting to get inside!!

We still have not figured out which will be the fourth outdoor female, as all the other ones we can pet are male. If we can’t collect a fourth outdoor female, we will include one of the two remaining indoor females that needs to be fixed. It absolutely has to be four, though; the cat late was informed that if we don’t follow through with bringing the cats in, the clinic will never book the rescue for cats again. !! These cheap spay/neuter days happen only twice a year – once for males, once for females – and the spots fill up fast. For the cat lady to be able to arrange four slots is a really big deal. I don’t know how many spays they can do in one day, but it can’t be that many!

We’ll work it out, though.

The Re-Farmer

Update: I have been in touch with the cat lady about the arrangements. She says she will message me later, when she’s done at the doctor’s. Her husband was involved in a multi-car accident this morning! He should be okay but, obviously, I’m not as concerned about the cats as I am for them to all be well!

Also update: I also got a call from my brother. He has been in touch with the roofers. Because of the cold we are getting right now, they’re not coming out right away, but the day after tomorrow, one of the guys is coming out to scope the roof and see what they will be dealing with. The day after that, things will start warming up, and we’re even getting forecasts of at least one day that is supposed to go above freezing! So after the current cold spell is done, we should have at least a week of mild temperatures. Hopefully, the roof will get done then.

Fuzzy grub

I was a bit startled while putting the kibble out for the cats this morning. I did not expect to see a tiny, fuzzy orange grub, under the water shelter!

It ran under the cat house, but when I came back after the kibble was all set out, I found it again.

There is something about its fuzziness that make it look like some kind of caterpillar when it moves!

After I got this photo, I was able to reach out and pick it up for the first time. I was careful to just hold it close and give it ear skritches and gentle pets, so it would associate human contact with warmth and pleasant feelings. Then I put it onto the kibble tray inside the entry to the cat house, rather than back in the snow. Yes, I could have brought it inside, but this was the first time it was held, and I didn’t want to traumatize it by taking it away from its mother and siblings so suddenly. I’d rather go slowly, while that’s still an option.

The cold has set in today; as I write this, we’re at -23C/-9F. The weather app says we have a wind chill of -33C/-27F, but we seem to be sheltered from that. It was nice and sunny, with no wind, so I was able to do some shoveling around the cat shelters and the south side of the house. Amazingly, in less than a week, the forecast now says we are supposed to have a couple days at 0C/32F!! Talk about temperature whiplash!

Right now, I need to talk myself into going to town. We have a couple of our water jugs waiting to be refilled. I just don’t want to go anywhere.

Bah.

The Re-Farmer

Just in case

I was supposed to work on the Christmas ornaments yesterday, but I ended up working on something else entirely, and it took a lot longer than expected.

I made a baby jail.

Leyendecker likes it.

We don’t have the funds to buy a kennel, but with the newest set of wire storage cubes I got, we had enough altogether to make this cat cage, including a second level inside. The squares come with openings in two sizes, intended to be used as sides or backs for the storage cubes. I put the whole thing together to figure it out, then took it apart and put it back together with a plan. The kittens would be able to go right through the larger openings, so the bottom half is is all the squares with the smaller openings. Because the corners could easily be pushed out of their clips, I tied them together with twine as I went along. This thing is NOT going to fall apart! It is completely enclosed except for one square that is not in any clips at all, but tied in place to make a door, which can be clipped closed at the top.

Of course, the bitties could probably climb the bottom squares and still squeeze through the larger openings of top squares, but we could figure something out to prevent that.

It needs more towels and blankets, etc. plus a small litter box and bowls for food and water. Ideally, we would be able to get the bitties and Broccoli, altogether, keeping them safe in here with their mama.

Assuming we can catch them.

While feeding them this morning, I could see the bitties running around inside, but the best I could do for a picture was shove my phone through the strips of carpet over the entry, where I’d seen the orange bitty eating, and hope for the best!

Not a very good shot, but my goodness, what a cutie! I just love those little white patches under his eyes! When he moves around, he looks like a giant, wooly caterpillar.

I got a head count of about 27 or 28 this morning, NOT counting the bitties. In this picture, you can see three little heads poking out from under the cat shelter. What the two white and greys are blocking are two more kittens under the shelter. I think the smallest cats feel a lot safer and more secure under there.

We have to figure out which of the grey and whites that allow us to pet them is a female. We’ve got four booked to be spayed in less than a week. We’ll be delivering them to the cat lady the day before they’re booked for surgery, so I want to have the chosen ones tucked into the sun room the night before that. It’d be great if we could get Rosencrantz or any of the older females done, but they’re just not social enough. We’ll have to work on that!

The Re-Farmer

Looking ahead

Wow. WordPress now has prompt questions when the editor is opened, and I find them rather weird. When I opened the editor to start on this post, the question was “what do you think about eating meat?”

I’m here to talk about cats, thanks.

And weather.

I took this screencap of my desktop’s weather app, just a little while ago.

Would you look at those fluctuations?!! We’re going to be getting temperature whiplash over the next while. Today, we’re looking at a high of -15C/5F, tomorrow, it’s saying -4C/24F, then it’s going to dive down to highs of close to -20C/-4F, though it’s those overnight lows dropping to -30C/-22F that are going to be the main concern. Then suddenly we’re supposed to zoom up to -2C/28F, before dropping back down to a high of -18C/0F.

I don’t know when the roofers will actually show up – no one arrived with the supplies yesterday, but we’re keeping the gate open for them – but I’m hoping they hold off until after that cold spell coming up!

Of course, we’re keeping an eye on the kitties through all this.

I didn’t do a head count, but there seemed to be fewer of them running around in the cold while I was putting the kibble out. The heated water bowls had frost across their tops, but at least there was still water. The metal water bowls were, of course, frozen solid.

Though the kibble house has a sheet of insulation under the floor boards, as well as the one on the ground, I added scrap pieces under the kibble trays, too. I put out extra food, too, adding more in the tray just inside the cat house entry, and just plain more kibble in their favourite eating spots. I wasn’t able to get a photo, but I could see the little ones running around inside. I was happy to NOT see them going outside this time, which is another reason I wanted to leave extra kibble in the entry. I don’t want to do that in the evening, as overnight would be when any skunks or racoons show up, if they show up at all.

I also left the sun room doors propped open. I won’t leave them open overnight, again because racoons might show up and trash it, but at least during the day, the cats will be able to squeeze in and out. We will be setting the other heat bulb up, along with food, water and a litter, for when it’s time to collect the cats that will be getting fixed next, and for their recovery period, after. They will stay for only a short time with the cat lady before coming back.

Speaking of which, I had a chance to chat with her last night. She is dealing with a lot of cats, and her rescue is still small and new, so she doesn’t have a lot of resources, etc. Mostly, it’s just her doing everything, with the help of her family. She tried contacting her rural municipality for help with the colonies and strays. The only help they’re willing to offer it to send someone out to shoot them. We’re not even talking about feral cats, either. But since the property owners/tenants are willing to care for the cats (like we are), they won’t do anything else. In other words, if we were neglecting the cats, rather than feeding and sheltering them, only then would they be willing to provide resources, but because we’re actually taking on providing some level of care, they’re only willing to “help” by killing the cats. How does that even make sense? Mind you, we don’t live in the same RM that she does. I think ours offers the loan of traps.

As I was writing this, I got a call from my brother, wondering if the roofers made it out yesterday. Apparently, his contact with the company was texting back and forth with the driver who was picking up a load of shingles. It sounds like it will take several trips just to get all the supplies here. We shall see.

With the way the temperatures are today, I think it’s a good day to finally finish off my ornaments for this year – before the cats finish destroying more of my yarn!

The Re-Farmer

Mothering confirmed

I was able to get this photo not long ago.

It is confirmed.

Broccoli is the mama!

It’s hard to see through the reflections, but Broccoli is nursing all three bitty babies.

The orange and tuxedo bitties both have been seen outside. The grey and white tabby probably goes out, too, but we just haven’t been there to see it.

I am encouraged. The urgency to get them inside is lower now. On top of that, I was even able to pet Broccoli while she was eating on the cat house roof this morning, and while she gave me somewhat alarmed looks, she didn’t run away. Which means there is socialization of a mama happening.

This would be her second litter of the year. *sigh*

It would be awesome if we could bring her and the bitties inside. Maybe we could go half way, and get her and the bitties in the sun room. It’s not set up as a maternity ward right now, though, and the cat shelter if probably warmer, though the thermometer has been knocked right off it’s holder, so I can’t see it to check.

Right now, I’m just happy to have the mothering confirmed!

The Re-Farmer

Three! And a surprise mom?

I ended up spending a longer time with my mother than expected, partly because it took an hour for her new prescription to be filled. She was looking very good today, and even was getting in and out of the van much more easily than the last time I drove her in it.

I was still able to head for home in time to pick up a parcel at the post office before it closed (more on that in my next posts). I also remembered to message my daughters to ask them to bring the new bitty into the house.

I checked my phone before leaving the post office, and there was a message informing me they had not brought in the bitty.

Any of them.

There were three!

When I got home it was starting to get dark, but I still tried to see inside while feeding the outside cats.

I found this little one, looking back!

I couldn’t see any others. My daughters both saw the orange bitty. One could see this one, while the other saw a dark, tuxedo looking kitten.

It also seems that the mother is Brussel.

This long haired calico is Brussel (the short haired one is Sprout). They are Broccoli’s kittens.

They were born just this spring! Yes, they were one of the earliest litters, but I would have thought they were way too young to go into heat early enough to have kittens in the same year!

It’s possible the girls are wrong, but from their observations, she seemed to be the mama. The little bitties are definitely not abandoned.

My goodness. We’re still going to have to bring them in before things get too cold, but… well, I turned out to be right. The orange bitty was just the first of a litter being brought to warmth and safety in the cat house. It just took longer than I expected.

Which means there’s a possibility that more might still appear.

All we can do is continue monitoring!

The Re-Farmer

Changes in plans, and a little bit of everything

Yesterday, we got our quarter beef in!

We had to juggle a bit to be able to close the freezer lid. No, it’s not completely full of beef – there’s other stuff underneath – but I’d say over half the freezer is now packages of beef.

After I took the picture, I dug out a couple of packages of T-bone steaks to thaw out for today! It’s been soooo long since we’ve had a good steak!

I love how big the stew packages are this time. They’re not visible, but there’s also about two dozen 2 pound packages of ground beef in there.

Today’s plans, however, had already changed before I went to bed!

I got a call from my brother. He’d just talked to my mother, and he was asking if I could take her to the hospital today. !!! My mother thinks she’s got a UTI again (she is likely right), but she told my brother more than she told me, and it’s more of a problem than I knew. My guess is, she was hoping my brother would drop everything, drive all the way to her place, then take her to the hospital and sit with her, like he had done the last time this happened. She’s been suffering for more than a week, but had only just tried calling the community health number yesterday. She can’t handle the automated phone systems, so she just hit 0 and left a message. Twice. No response.

So today, my plan was to call our doctor’s clinic, which is in a town about 40-45 minutes drive from my place, as soon as it opened (after doing my rounds; head count of 27 this morning, and I couldn’t see the new bitty). I wanted to see if I could make arrangements with them, or see if I should take her to the hospital (our doctor’s clinic shares a building with the hospital).

Then I got a call from the home care worker that last assessed my mother. They got her messages from yesterday, and followed up. The person who normally answered the phone doesn’t work on Wednesdays. *sigh* My mother seemed confused about things, so he wanted to clear things up with me, but she had already told him about going to her doctor today.

One of the things my mother has been pushing to do is change doctors again. There aren’t full time doctors locally, which is why we now to go another town. Plus, the local doctor, who came in from the city once a week, was female, and my mother doesn’t like female doctors. Apparently, there is now a new doctor, though. He might even be there full time now, instead of coming in from the city. I’m not sure. Our doctor in the other town isn’t white, and my mother doesn’t like that about as much as she doesn’t like female doctors. Having a closer doctor would be better for her (but he’s Greek; not sure if that’s white enough for her), however there have been issues in the past with getting good care locally. The hospital just doesn’t have the resources. Whether she switches doctors or not, she won’t be happy. She’s convinced she has cancer or something, but the doctors are keeping it a secret from her.

Anyhow.

I called the clinic right after it opened, but the line was already busy, so I called my mom and told her what I was working on. She was already getting ready to leave! When I got through to the clinic, however, it turned out her doctor had an opening, so I was able to make an appointment for her this afternoon.

So I called my mother back and we worked out a plan. I’ll be heading over to her place early enough to have lunch (she requested Chinese food this time! 😁), and we wouldn’t be in any hurry about leaving. I will be using our van, as it’s better for winter road conditions, so we’ll have to remember to bring her little stool to help her get in and out.

Which means I’m going to be out for most of today.

Ah, well. At least it’s supposed to be a relatively mild day today. Things are supposed to get colder again tomorrow, and I’d rather not be driving my 91 yr old mother around in the cold! We still need to do at least one trip to the city for our monthly stocking up, but thanks to the trip I did manage to make – and the beef delivery! – plus our current state of supplies, there is no urgency on that.

I really like being well stocked. It takes a lot of pressure off. It wouldn’t be as big a deal if we were still living in the city, but it makes a huge difference living in the boonies, and winter is coming on!

In other things, I talked to the cat lady yesterday evening. She showed my pictures of the new bitty to a vet already. Given the size, they agree that it is younger than the other bitties. Once we are sure there are no siblings, she wants to take it in. Like the other cats, it probably already has upper respiratory issues, and being so young, they don’t expect it would survive the winter, either, even in the relative warmth and comfort of the heated cat shelter. The new bitty will join the other bitty. Things have changed there, too. He is not going to the lady that took the other two. Instead, he will be going to the cat lady’s cousin! He’ll be going to his new home after Christmas. Maybe, he’ll have a little orange buddy going with him? Wouldn’t that be cool! Also, she has managed to find homes for 6 cats she was fostering! She will have room for more, soon.

So we will continue to monitor and, if things go as I expect, we will have an orange bitty in the house tonight.

We shall see! It’s not like anything seems to be going to plan, today! 😄😄

The Re-Farmer

Still there!

I was hoping it could wait until tomorrow, when the wind is supposed to die down, but I had to go out and secure the shed roof tarp as best I could. Just on the door side, which is where the wind is hitting the hardest today. The tarp at one corner was starting to tear to the point the line securing it was barely keeping that corner from blowing away completely. We’ll have to go out again to see how we can better secure the other side on a calmer day. At least the far side is secured all the way across the bottom, so a tear at the corner can only do so much.

The kittens were absolutely fascinated by the whole thing and a bunch of them even managed to climb onto the roof. When I had to go back to the house for another tool, I spotted one had even gone under the tarp, where the wind had blown it free of the roof edge, creating a billowing shelter! Thankfully, they all followed me back to the house and when I left the sun room door open, took full advantage of being able to go in instead of following me back.

When I was done, I topped up their kibble, which also got them out of the sun room. This time of day, the sun shines right into the smallest window of the cat shelter, lighting up the whole room inside. So while all the bigger cats and kittens were busily going after the kibble, I had a clear view.

The orange bitty was parked next to the largest window, just sitting there, watching the commotion outside!

There is just the one kitten. It doesn’t seem to be in any kind of distress, that I can see. From the photo, it looks like its eyes are no longer blue, so it’s at least 6 weeks old, if not a bit older.

Of course, with all the other cats outside and eating, there is nothing at all to tell me who the mama is. There are no new adults hanging around that I can tell, either. Clearly, there’s a mama tending to this bitty. It’s just a mystery, who it is!

We will continue to monitor the situation and see how things go!

The Re-Farmer

Morning stuff

When doing my morning rounds, I made sure to check through the cat house windows repeatedly, looking for the new bitty baby.

I counted 27 cats this morning, but no sign of any bitties. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any – just that there is no longer a kitten next to the window I can see through. The largest window has way too many reflections this time of day to see anything unless it’s right at the window inside, and while the smaller window by the entrance, where their favorite cat bed is, is better, it’s still hard to see very far. We did clean the windows on the inside when we prepped the cat house for the winter, but between the frost and greasy little faces, it doesn’t take long for it to get hard to see through. Then there’s the smallest window in the entry (an addition my brother had later added to the dog house, to make it more weather proof), which is completely frosted over on the inside. Because it’s in the entry itself, which has its own roof, we couldn’t really reach under to be able to clean it from the inside. It wasn’t a priority, and we typically forget it exists.

So… if the bitty is still in the cat house, which I believe it is, it is somewhere further from the windows. There is a box bed against the wall furthest from the biggest window. If the mama put her kitten(s) in there, I would not be able to see them at all, just because of their size.

I was messaging with the cat lady last night – she actually contacted me about the possibility of getting some of the outside females done elsewhere, because a certain vet clinic is having their annual extremely discounted spays and neuters – $75 instead of $350, each! She’s going to see if she can book us for 4 females. I imagine the spots get filled up really fast, so we’ll see if she can manage it. She suggested we could meet somewhere half way; I would deliver cats to her, she’d have them at her place for their fasting period, then we’d get them back later.

I was going to wait until I checked today, but since she contacted me anyhow, I told her about the bitty I found. She asked if I thought it was part of the same litter the other bitties came from, and if there was a mama around. I’m sure it’s from a different, younger, litter. She was willing to take it, if we felt there was no mama around – it would keep Bitty (now named Oskar) company until he finishes his vet treatment before going to his forever home. I still think that I will end up finding more bitties in the cat house, later on. The mamas tend to have litters of 4 kittens – Rosencrantz was an exception with her 5 this year – at a time. The question is whether or not such tiny kittens survived being brought over from wherever they were before, into the warmth and safety of the cat house. We shall keep an eye on things!

Once I was done with my rounds this morning, I had to run to the town my mother lives in to do some errands. I wanted to get that done early because, late this afternoon, we’ll be picking up our quarter beef! I wasn’t sure if I’d get the first errands done right away, as we had a lot of blowing snow – almost storm level – while I was doing my rounds. There wasn’t much snow, though, and it’s cold enough that the roads would be dry. Our expected high of the day today is -12C/10F, with wind chills of -17C/1F. As I write this, we’re already at the -12C/10F, with a wind chill of -23C/-9F. We’re supposed to warm up to -8C/18F tomorrow, which will be a good time to see if we can fasten down that tarp on the shed roof a bit better. On the far side, where the roof is covered with metal roofing materials, the trap has been cut by the roof edge a bit, thanks to the winds, so it’s getting loose. Today, the wind is coming from the other direction. We were able to secure it only at the corners so far, and the wind is really tearing at it. We need to secure it along the edge more, but in such a way that we can still open the door, so basically tucking the edge of the tarp under the roof’s edge. The problem is being able to reach.

We’re going to have to invest in scaffolding at some point. I’ve been eyeballing some rolling scaffold platforms that are only about 5 feet high that would meet most of our needs, and are relatively affordable. I think they’re actually meant for indoor use only, but I believe they can handle outdoor use every now and then, too. At least the ones that I’ve been pining over! 😁

As for this morning’s drive, just a short distance from our area, and I drove out of the blowing snow! It was still windy, but clear and sunny. On the way home, I drove back into blowing snow, but since I’ve been back indoors, the snow has stopped, and it’s all clear and sunny out there. Still windy, though. I’m going to have to keep an eye on that shed. The good thing is, I can direct the garage cam towards it and keep an eye on it from the comfort of my desk!

Looking at the forecast into December, I am thinking we’ve lost our weather window. I don’t think the roofers are going to make it out here before the cold really sets in. I don’t imagine any crews would be willing to come out this far north and work in these conditions.

*sigh*

I’m still hoping, but not counting on it.

Ah, well.

Talking to my brother and his wife about it, we were guessing how long it would take to get the job done. My SIL figures 4 days. I was thinking three. My brother was thinking only 2 at first – depending on how big the crew is – but then changed his mind. Once they’ve taken off the old shingles, we know they’re going to find some rot that will need repairing. There’s just no way to know how much, at this point, but I expect there to be rot in at least two areas. Plus, the old chimney for the wood burning furnace needs to be removed, and the hole covered over. The chimney to the wood cook stove in the old kitchen will remain; we may not be able to use that wood stove at all, but some day we will be able to replace it, with a properly installed heat shield and fire safe flooring, and will be able to hook into the existing chimney. That won’t happen for a few years, but at least we’ll have the option. There won’t be any option of getting a wood burning furnace going again, once the roof is done. That old chimney was supposed to have been replaced when my parents first bought this place, back in the mid 60’s. They had all the parts and pieces. It just never happened. And now I’m using those old chimney blocks that were intended for that, in the garden.

We will still have the old chimney running through the house from the basement. Someday, I want to have that removed and replaced with a dumbwaiter. It would make things much easier – and safer – to move things from floor to floor.

Lots of ideas and plans! We just need the funds to be able to do it! 😁😁

Hhhmm… when I picked up some gas today, I noticed the jackpot was won last night. I think I’ll go check my ticket now… 😉😉😉

The Re-Farmer

AAAAHHHH!!! I’m going insane!!

I just got back from topping up the outside cats food and water.

In the process, I saw something absolutely insane.

While adding kibble to the trays under the water bowl shelter and the cat house entry, I glanced through the cat house window.

It’s not very clean, gets frost on the inside and there’s lots of reflection, but…

… there was something strange looking back at me.

Something tiny and orange and fluffy.

This is the picture I took, but I used the auto-enhance on computer, to see better.

That, my friends, is another bitty.

It wasn’t there yesterday.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t there this morning, but I didn’t really look.

I thought I had to be going crazy, and was seeing things wrong.

After I finished setting out the kibble, I came back with the water jug. After topping up the heated water bowls, I looked again, but saw nothing.

There was a white and grey kitten eating at the tray in the entry, so I tried peaking past it, through the carpet strips in front of the door.

Nothing.

I looked back through the window and…

…watched as an orange fuzzy worm came running around and into the cat bad at the window. It looked at me, saw me move and started to run away again, so I moved away from the window.

I tried looking through the larger window, but there’s just too much reflection to see inside.

We have another bitty.

Another.

Bitty.

AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

It looks about the same size, maybe smaller, than the bitties that got adopted out.

It seems to be alone – no other kittens – but it’s entirely possible the mama – whoever it is! – is in the process of moving her litter into the warmth and comfort of the cat house.

If I’m seeing things well enough, this looks like it will be a long haired orange tabby.

What the heck!?! Why are we having such super late kittens this year?

The Re-Farmer