Happy Three King’s Day, and digging out the fire pit

Happy Three King’s Day! Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, which is our last day of Christmas. After today, we start taking down our decorations. 🙂

It was another mild day today, so when I finished my rounds this morning, I decided to go ahead and dig out the fire pit.

I considered breaking out Spewie, our little electric snow blower, but for the amount of snow we have, I figured it would be easier to just shovel it!

I shoved the snow off what I’m using for a cover, but didn’t bother moving it, yet.

On our warm days, the snow melted enough to create a layer of ice on the surface of the picnic table. We’ll be staying at these mild temperatures for a while, so now that it’s uncovered it should melt away on its own.

I cleared a path to the organized wood pile. That cover did not need to have snow removed from it. I didn’t bother shoveling to the big pile of branches. The little pile has kindling and should be enough for our needs. We may not use the fire pit at all, but at least now we have the option! 🙂

I made sure to dig the path to the fire pit wide enough for my husband’s walker, should he feel well enough to join us if we do a cookout.

I was being watched the whole time!

You can see the cats’ favorite way to get under the storage house. The path that goes around the back branches off to a partially broken window they also like to use, as well as through the trees to the path they’ve made to the storage building outside the yard. Well worn little footy paths in the snow! 🙂

I also had to dig a wider path around the kibble house. There is a lot of overhang on the roof that is working quite well for the cats, but not so well for a human with a walker! 😀

While clearing around the cat shelter and kibble house, I found this.

It’s a frozen little cat treat! 😀 Next to the slab of ice that slid off the “porch” roof of the cat shelter.

Rolando Moon looks like she’s thinking of that delicious frozen treat! 😀

So we will now be able to easily get at the fire pit if we feel like having a cook out, or just a nice fire. I still like the idea of using a fire to thaw the ground out, so we can set up the fire pit grill my brother and his wife got for us!

We do have the BBQ they have us, and the propane tanks does have fuel in it, but I am much more interested in the fire pit, instead! 😀

In other things, I was able to get through to the clinic to make an appointment with my doctor about my breathing issues. After hearing the messages about restrictions before it ever got to a human, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make an appointment at all. The messages say nothing about medical exemptions to mask wearing, of course. Which sucks, since not being able to breathe properly is why I need to see a doctor in the first place. I was able to make a telephone appointment for Friday afternoon, and then it will be up to my doctor to decide if I should come in or not. I made an appointment for my daughter for right after mine, so when he’s done with me, I can just hand the phone over to her. This is the first doctor’s appointment either of our daughters have had since we moved. After seeing how difficult it has been for my husband and I to get good medical care, they have developed a strong distrust of doctors. I can’t say I blame them, either.

But that is done. We shall see what the doctor has to say when the time comes. I am not expecting much of anything, to be honest. No one is getting real health care right now, and our premier has just put us under another 30 days of house arrest, even has many of our politicians have been caught ignoring those restrictions and have gone traveling to tropical places, visiting with their friends and family, and then pretending to be sorry after getting caught.

Thankfully, we are out here in the boonies, and I get to focus on more pleasant things. Right now, I’m working on a project to help me be organized about our gardening, including keeping track of what seeds to start indoors and when.

More to come on that, later! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Another one gone. :-(

So… we seem to have a problem.

Butterscotch’s third orange kitten died today.

I checked on them this morning. Beep Beep’s kittens were sleeping in a pile, and she had even come to the stairs to greet me when I came down, before dashing back into her nest.

Butterscotch was in her nest, sitting like a loaf. I couldn’t see her kittens, so I felt around and found them. They complained a bit at being disturbed, and I was a bit concerned that they seemed to be under Butterscotch. Once they started complaining, she lay back and nursed them, and all seemed well.

One of my daughters had a shift today (one extra day this month, then nothing but Saturdays on the new schedule), and while I was in town, my other daughter checked on the kittens. They were all looking fine. She did have to dig the orange one out from under Butterscotch, so she continued to check throughout the afternoon, and again when I went back to town to pick up her sister.

Which is when she found the orange one, unresponsive.

At that point, she took the grey and white one and put it with Beep Beep, who had no problem nursing an extra baby.

I checked again when I got home, and there was no question. The kitten was gone.

We’re now left with a couple of possibilities.

Either these babies all had some sort of birth defect, and we’ll have to watch the last one carefully. Or Butterscotch smothered her own kitten.

The box we’d made a nest in that Beep Beep was using was starting to get kinda damp, so I ended up moving her and the babies into the crate that Butterscotch was using, and made up a new bed in an old laundry basket. It is too open for the moms’ preferences, though, and Butterscotch ended up trying to climb into the crate with Beep Beep and the babies.

She is now outside.

I noticed as I picked her up, she did not seem to be full of milk, either. When I had picked up Beep Beep, I could feel she was quite full of milk. This could be another part of the problem.

We will have to make a point of checking on Beep Beep and the babies often. The last I saw, all five kittens were nursing and wriggling around.

Hopefully, there will be no more losses.

The Re-Farmer

More sad news

My daughters and I went into the basement maternity ward to set up a new “nest” for Butterscotch and her babies, and block off the old radio so she wouldn’t go in there again.

As we took her babies out, however, we found another of her orange babies was struggling.

We spend the next while tending to it, and it did seem to be getting stronger again. Butterscotch is not particularly maternal, so we even tried to put it with Beep Beep. Eventually, it seemed strong enough to possible latch on and nurse, and I put it back with Butterscotch, as close to a nip as I could get it.

Even in this photo, you can see that it’s smaller than its siblings.

Sadly, after about an hour or more, the little guy passed away.

It’s hard to know what happened, since we were unable to monitor Butterscotch’s kittens as well as Beep Beep’s. Both kittens that passed were noticeably smaller than the remaining two, both of whom are strong, active, vocal and nursing enthusiastically. Both of the ones that passed also had irritated and messy rear ends. Given that they are only a few days old, I would guess that they had not been strong from the start.

If we had not been able to bring the mamas indoors to have their babies, we would never have known how many they’d had to start with. A sad downside to bringing them indoors is being there when there are losses.

The old radio is now stuffed with packing material and blocked off, so Butterscotch can’t move her babies into there again. We tried to make her new nest as cave-like as we could, so I hope she won’t feel the need to try.

Thankfully, the other kittens all look healthy, are nursing well, and becoming more active already.

With Butterscotch and her babies now right next to Beep Beep, Beep Beep has been showing an interest in her babies, too!

The Re-Farmer

Sad news

It is already turning out to be a very warm day today. We’re supposed to hit a high of 15C/59F this afternoon!

While doing my rounds this morning, I had a Potato demanding cuddles the whole time. 🙂

It was warm enough that I went to try and move the saw horses by the storage shed. The ground was thawed enough that I got one of them loose, but the other turned out to be in worse condition than I expected. Instead of breaking loose from the ground, it just broke. !!

Of course, I checked on the babies before heading out this morning.

Beep Beep and her brood are easier to check. They are even right in a sun spot, in the morning. 🙂

Butterscotch’s babies are harder to check on, since she tends to block the opening with her own head. I’ve been using the camera on my phone to try and see the babies.

Which is the only reason I was able to see a problem this morning.

In the photo, I could see one of her babies was pushed off to the side. I’d noticed this same kitten had been pushed off to the side yesterday, and had brought it closer to mom, but when I saw it this morning, I knew it was gone. Judging from the state of its hind end, something had gone wrong with it. My guess is, Butterscotch sensed it was not doing well and had been pushing it away from her healthy babies. It may well have been weak from the start.

My daughter and I have been talking about how we can set Butterscotch and her remaining babies up in a new nest, and block the inside of the old radio off completely. It’s just too difficult to see them in there. It’s unlikely it would have made a difference, to be honest, but at least we’d be able to check on them more easily.

A sad way to start the morning. 😦

The Re-Farmer

The reality of things

I’ve been told I should make sure to add warnings before I post certain things, so I’ll start with that. Towards the end of this post, there are pictures of a dead bird.

Aside from that, during my morning rounds, I did get photos of Two Face. Her wound is healing quite nicely. You can hardly tell where it is, if you’re not looking for it!

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Bitter cold, and sad news

The cold snap that has been working its way across the prairies has hit us.

It was -31C/-23F, with a wind chill of -39C/-38F this morning. At the time I write this, we have warmed up to -29C/-20F with a wind chill of -31C/-23F. The weather alert on my app is still saying wind chills may reach between -40C/F to -50C/-58F. !!!

Hard to believe that, tomorrow, we’re supposed to warm up to -9C/15F!

Heading out to feed the critters meant layering up. Two pairs of socks in my new, rated to -40C, winter boots. Two pairs of pants. A t-shirt under my sweatshirt. A hoodie – hood up – under my down filled park – also hood up! and double layered insulated gloves.

I was rather impressed when I saw this under the door.

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Little Squeak!

Cats, being cats, will hunt things.

The outside cats do a great job of keeping the rodent population down.  Every now and then, we’ll see signs of their successes.  All part of that whole “circle of life” thing.

On the way out this afternoon, I took the time to get another pitcher of warm water for the cats before we left.  I saw The Outsider by the entryway steps.

He looked at me, paused to bat something around, then ignored it for a bit, then batted it around some more.

A quick glance and I could see a tiny little fur ball and realized he had caught a vole.  Something I’ve seen quite a few times.

Then he batted it again until it was upside down…

… and I saw the little legs wiggle.

Then I heard the tiniest of squeaks.

The vole righted itself, only to have The Outsider bat at it again, and pounce a bit.  No claws.  No actual biting.

Yeah.  He was playing with it.

The poor thing would get tossed a bit, would right itself and sit there, but as soon as it moved, it would get batted or pounced on again.

While squeaking the tiniest of squeaks.

Normally, I wouldn’t do anything about this.  Rodent population control is one of the reasons farm cats are so good to have around.  But I could also see that this little guy was completely uninjured.  Plus, The Outsider was interested only in keeping it from running away.  He was much more interested in the pitcher I was holding.

Then he batted it again, the vole righted itself and just sat there.

I couldn’t help it.

I picked it up.

It made no effort to run away.

The Outsider seemed to be wondering what I was doing, until I put the pitcher of water down, when he immediately lost interest in the vole and went for the water, along with three other cats.

The vole stayed in my hand, no longer squeaking, but trembling mightily.

My daughter came out, and I handed it to her, so I could distract the cats away with the warm water – the bowls of water outside were already frozen.

It made no effort to run from her, either.

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Of course, I got a picture, first.

He was so velvety soft!

Looking at that long snoot, I find myself thinking it might be a mole, not a vole, but when I try to look it up, I’m not any clearer on this.  It’s like it has a vole body with a mole snoot.

I’m still thinking it’s a vole.

While the cats were distracted, my daughter went to where there were leaves piled up as a mulch in the flower garden on the south side of the house.  She made a little nest in the leaves and dropped it in.  It snuffled around in a circle for a bit, then she loosely covered it with more leaves, so the cats wouldn’t see it.

We are such sucks. 😀

The Re-Farmer

Beep Beep: Mighty Huntress

(Circle of Life warning)

Of all the outside cats, Beep Beep is notably the smallest, in every way.  Yet, now that she’s got kittens to feed, she is proving to be a Mighty and Prolific Huntress.

Case in point.

Earlier today, I was hearing an odd meowing outside my office window.  A very unusual sort of meow.  So I went outside to look at see what was up.

It was Beep Beep.  Doing this.

The odd sound I was hearing was her meowing with a mouth full of dead chipmunk.  Usually, I see her with a vole, sometimes with a bird.  This is a first I’ve seen any of the cats with a chipmunk.

Then, this afternoon, my older daughter noticed some odd meowing and went out to see.

Yes, it was Beep Beep again.  This time, with a bird.

Both bird and chipmunk remain beside the bowls of cat kibble.

As the kittens have starting coming around the house to the food bowls, I am no longer going to be putting food out for them by the garden shed.  Which means, kitties have a meaty lunch waiting for them when they come around.

The Re-Farmer

Stunning!

Earlier today, while in my office, I heard a loud bang on a window somewhere.  Going to check, the girls, who were in the kitchen, were also wondering what the noise was.  We’ve had many birds hitting our windows lately, and that seemed likely, but never this loud!

So I went outside to check.  Sure enough, I found a stunned bird on the ground, outside the dining room window.

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When I first picked it up, it was panting and groggy.

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After a while, it was doing better, but still stayed in my hand.  Happily, it did not seem to be injured.

I waited a while, then put it near a tree branch, but it still stayed in my hand.

So I sat on the steps at our front door (which, I’ve discovered, we cannot open.  The inside door opens, but the outside screen door is stuck, as if painted shut.  My brother had removed it to fix it, and it had been working fine in the fall!) and waited.

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As I sat, Rolando Moon came by, curious, but not curious enough to climb the steps.  Instead, she moved to the corner of the house and settled in.

Eventually, the bird flew into one of the bushes.

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It still stayed for a while before moving to another branch, then continued to hang out for a while before finally leaving.

As I was still sitting with it, however, I saw out of the corner of my eye, Rolando Moon suddenly spin around, pounce on something, then run off with something in its mouth.

After the bird went into the tree, I went around the house to see, thinking Rolando Moon had maybe caught a rodent.

I was wrong.  It was another bird.

I now wonder if there had been a second stunned bird that I did not notice before, because of how close it was to the house.

Now I’m torn between happy that we saved the one bird, but sad that we lots another at the same time.

I had taken a bunch of short videos and have put them together in a playlist.

I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

The Re-Farmer