Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adding Insult to Injury

Melanie over at Our Wee Farm has a post today titled Something Evil This Way Cometh. She's referring to something attacking her poultry but I could have easily had the same title today. Only all my birds are just fine. You see, it's my birthday. And it's a big one.

I was checking my e-mail first thing this morning and noticed several places where I do business sent a friendly little birthday greeting. That was nice. Then I also noticed Amazon sent another "you might like to read this" e-mail. Only the book they were recommending was the large print version.

*blink, blink*

It was all I could do not to reply to their e-mail with a few choice explicatives I normally would never use.

Yes, something evil this way cometh. But, let's not rub it in shall we?

(Today is the last day to vote for naming the hybrid, make sure your vote gets counted!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Corn Cat - Part 3

Twenty minutes later we were back in the exam room at the vet’s office. The vet commented on how much better the cat was looking. I just starred at her in disbelief. I thought, “Why is she not freaking out? How could this situation possibly be treated so nonchalantly? The cat’s butt is hanging out for crying out loud!” Then she slipped on a glove, added a little lubricant and popped it right back in as casually as if she were merely wiping the bangs from her face.

She had obviously done this before.

The vet said, “It is called a prolapsed rectum. It was most likely brought on by the cat’s diet going from starving to well-fed. It may or may not go away on its own. If not she will need surgery…”

“Wait just a minute. What did you just say? It may not go away? But you just made it go away. You mean it’s going to happen again?”

“Oh yes, Most likely it will continue to happen every time she uses the litter box. You’ll need to push it back in.”

“SAY WHAT? You want ME to do WHAT?”

“It would be best to deal with it just as quickly as it happens. Otherwise it may not go back in. We’ll put her on a diet of tuna and cottage cheese to hopefully loosen things up.”

So now not only would I be preparing special meals, applying salve to its eyes and drops in its ears I would also be pushing its butt back in every few hours. All this for a cat I didn’t even want in the first place. My mind quickly returned to the cornfield. Maybe I could just put it back? But there they were; the vet, the technician and Aaron staring at me, again.

I left there with a box of latex gloves and for the next several weeks everywhere I went so did the cat. We were inseparable. I couldn’t leave it home alone for long periods of time because if its butt fell out, it needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. It served as quite the lively topic of conversation at the family reunion when one of my cousin’s kids spotted the cat hanging on the porch screen, mooning everyone so to speak.

She used her charms to schmooze her way into the fold of family life. Aaron, of course, loved her. There is something very tactile and soothing about a cat. She would let him carry her around like a rag doll and pet her as long as he wanted. She loved it when he would cover her up with a throw; you could hear her purr clear across the room. He thought that was the funniest thing ever because he also loved to hide under the covers. The weight of the layers has a calming affect for those with autism. It is said that all cats have Asperger Syndrome. Cats certainly don’t feel the need to conform to social conventions. That very well may be why they hit if off so well. They were two peas in a pod.

Even Lucy grew fond of her. I thought it was odd that these two natural enemies would bond so easily until one evening when I caught the cat flinging leftover chicken wings off the kitchen counter to the dog below. Everyone knows the way to a Beagle’s heart is through its stomach. This made them best friends instantly.

After you shove someone’s butt back in for them a few times you start to develop a relationship. It didn’t take the cat long to figure out I was the bringer of food and the fixer of butts. The cat was not fond of all the procedures by any stroke of the imagination, but it was almost as if she knew I was trying to help her.

After a few weeks of fine dining on gourmet tuna salad with a side of cottage cheese while using up an entire box of latex gloves, she was finally healthy. It was time to take her to the shelter. I didn’t want a cat. I didn’t ask for a cat. I sure as heck didn’t want a sick cat. But whether I wanted to or not, somehow during the course of her treatment, I had become her Mama. She needed me.

As I watched Aaron lie next to her one evening on the living room floor wrapped up tightly in a blanket like a burrito with only his eyes showing, I realized she wasn’t going anywhere. The disheveled, the seemingly-unlovable and the miserable deserve some tolerance and acceptance. Their quirks and idiosyncrasies are part of what makes them worth saving. With a little love, encouragement and intervention early on, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the unique individuals they become. We don’t go looking for them, but we sure are blessed to have them in our lives.

It’s time to give her a name. I think we’ll call her Ethel—Lucy’s partner in crime.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Corn Cat - Part 2

When I found her still breathing in the morning I mentally threw up a thank you and a few promises to be a better person. Explaining the sudden death to Aaron would not have been easy. His analytical autistic mind would have pegged me as the perpetrator in a heartbeat. Never mind the guilt I would have suffered all on my own without his help.

We could barely fit the dog carrier through the door when we arrived at the vet’s office. Sized for Lucy, a Beagle, it was far too big for this scrawny, little kitten but it was all we had. I called ahead and told them we were coming so they ushered us right into a small exam room. I pulled the cat out of the crate and I could tell by the look on the veterinarian’s face it wasn’t good. As she looked the kitten over I confessed how I nearly killed it with toxic chemicals. She quickly assured me I’d done no such thing. In fact, the cat had no pink tone to her skin at all; even her nose and tongue were white. She was so anemic she was almost dead. Had I not killed the fleas that were sucking her blood she may not have made it through the night.

As I was afraid of, she was going to need eye salve, ear drops and a special diet if she were to survive. My heart sank because I knew the shelter wouldn’t take her. Unless someone volunteers to care for them, animals this sick are humanely dispatched simply because they don’t have the manpower to handle them.

It was about that point that Lisa, the vet, said “She’s so lucky she found you and you’re willing to take care of her.”


My mind raced. I hadn’t agreed to anything. I couldn’t keep a cat. My mother-in-law is terrified of cats. It would cause all sorts of mayhem at the holidays if we had a cat. But they were all staring at me; the vet, the technician, my own child. I was backed into a corner. I had to set a good example. I agreed to pay for the visit, the medications, the special food and take care of her but only until she was healthy enough to go to the shelter. We couldn’t keep a cat. They all nodded in agreement with a smug, “Uh huh sure, you’ll wear down eventually,” look on their faces.

Those weren’t the only things I’d have to pay for. A cat’s got to go when a cat’s got to go. We needed a litter box. But I put my foot down and refused to buy any toys. I also set the ground rule of not naming the cat. Once they’re named they’re yours forever.

The cat started eating its new, rather expensive I might add, special diet food very well. The salve was helping her eyes and she tolerated the ear drops. It was all good until two days later. After one of those trips to the litter box it became rather apparent that something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. She came traipsing through the living room with part of her butt hanging out. Yes, out. Out in the open where you could see it.

Now—I had grown up on a hobby farm. I had seen all kinds of things; calves being born, chickens hatch, pigs being butchered. All kinds of stuff. But NOTHING prepared me for this. So I was just a little excited when I was explaining the situation over the phone to the receptionist at the veterinarian’s office. She calmly stated, “Oh, well you might want to bring her in.”

“MIGHT? MIGHT? No lady, I can assure you I absolutely, positively, without a doubt want to bring her in. While it seems like this might be considered normal to you, where I come from we prefer to keep our intestines on the INSIDE!”

(to be continued...)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Corn Cat - Part 1

It was a beautiful afternoon drive on one of the last nice fall days in Indiana. I made it home just before my son, Aaron’s, school bus was due to arrive. After I pulled the car into the garage, I picked up my bag of groceries and walked out to pick up the mail. Our mailbox stood alone across the road from our driveway. As I pulled the metal hatch down to peek inside I heard a noise coming from the cornfield behind it. “Ow, Ow.” It was so faint I wasn’t even sure what it was. I collected the mail, slammed the door shut and turned to cross the road. Then I heard it again, only louder this time. “Ow. Ow. Meow.”

I knew that very moment I was doomed. If I turned to look I would find some abandoned animal. People often drop off their unwanted pets in the country. As if the creature will miraculously learn to fend for itself overnight and live happily ever after. They particularly like to drop them off directly in front of farmhouses. Most likely because the seemingly carefree farm life is how they would like to envision Fluffy living. I’m sure it makes them feel better as they drive away.

“Meow. Meow.” It sounded more like “Ouch. Ouch. Please help me.” I didn’t look. Instead I marched back to the house, slammed the mail down on the counter and cursed the idiots that dumped an animal in front of my house.
That lasted all of, oh, two minutes maybe. I couldn’t stand it. One of three things will happen to an unwanted puppy or kitten in the country. They will either get hit by a car, eaten by coyotes or slowly starve to death. I was doomed to look. I had to look. It wasn’t my responsibility, but I couldn’t just leave it out there to die.

On the way out the door I scrounged up some gloves and an old towel. I hadn’t seen the cat but I suspected it was in bad shape. After years of growing up on a farm listening to my mother threaten, “Don’t touch it, it could have fleas”, I was conditioned not to make skin to fur contact if I could help it. Because, of course, all good mothers know any wild thing that lives outside must have fleas or lice or “heaven knows what else”. As I approached the cornfield I heard mewing again, then out popped this tiny mess of a kitten, filthy and covered in, you guessed it, fleas. I mean COVERED. Even at a distance you could see them crawling up, around and through the fur. Its eyes were infected and ringed with scabs. The ear canals looked like they were full of mites. The scrawny ball of fluff seemed barely old enough to be separated from its mother.

I crouched down at the edge of the field as the cat walked right up to me. Desperation overrides all fear I guess. I carried it back to the garage carefully wrapped in a towel. No way was I bringing this nasty little thing into my house. I left her there while I gathered water and a little bit of our dog, Lucy’s, food. I’ve never seen an animal that hungry. When she saw the food she didn’t just eat, she attacked it.

Aaron arrived home soon after. He barged through the garage door, saw the cat, threw his book bag to the ground and immediately ran over to pick her up. All of a sudden I heard my mother’s voice come flying out of my mouth saying “No, don’t touch it. It has fleas!” He jumped back two feet but eyed the cat closely. “Can we keep it? He asked.

“No, of course we can’t keep it. You know your grandma hates cats. She would have a fit when she comes to visit if we had a cat. I’m afraid we’ll need to take it to the shelter.”

“But where did you get it?”

“I found it in the corn by the mailbox. Someone must have dumped it. I think it’s sick.”

“Awe, but then we should keep it. It needs a Mommy. You could take care of it just like you take care of me.”

For a special needs child with Asperger Syndrome, a communication disorder, his use of manipulation was truly remarkable. But I wasn’t buying it—well, not completely.

The constant movement of the fleas made it impossible for the poor thing to rest. I could tell she was miserable. It was late enough in the day I knew the veterinarian’s office would be closed. We would have to try to keep her alive on our own overnight.

Still carefully wrapped in the towel, I allowed Aaron to hold her at arm’s length while we drove back to town to get some flea powder and a can of cat food. Once home again I quickly scanned the instructions on the side of the can, then doused the ragged little thing with the powder. She finally rested once they started to die off. While I was cleaning up I noticed at the very bottom of the can in super teeny, tiny almost microscopic print: “Not for use on kittens under 8 weeks old.”


I immediately raced to grab the cat, filled the kitchen sink with soap and water and threw the cat in, violently scrubbing her down until she gleamed like a newborn baby.

Have you ever given a cat a bath? They don’t like it much.

At this point, she looked more like a sick rat than a sick cat. All I wanted was to just keep her alive until the next day. Then I could take her to the vet and if they thought she was going to live I would take her to the animal shelter. Now here I had gone and nearly killed her myself. That’s just great.

(to be continued...)

Friday, June 26, 2009

That's SOME Chicken.

If there were a spider named Charlotte living in our chicken coop I'll bet she'd weave the word RADIANT into her web. Only she wouldn't be referring to a pig named Wilbur. She would be referring to a bird named Blackbeard.

Go ahead, click on the picture to make it bigger. Look at him shine. Isn't he TERRIFIC?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Little Early Morning Psychoanalysis

The Littles finally conquered their paralyzing fear of Old Calico Jack and realized they must leave the coop in order to get their fair share of the snacks. Now they come bursting out of the door like popcorn in the morning. Only after Jack and his ladies of course. Otherwise they get pecked in the head. So many rules to follow. So many social cues to learn. It's not easy being at the bottom of the pecking order no matter what species you are.

But it's particularly difficult if you don't have a good role model. The Littles have no Mama. They are interlopers. Their only nearby maternal example is Pearl with her two little ones. Pearl sat diligently on her nest and hatched her babies. She warmed them for the first few days, taught them how to scratch around for food and then threw them out on the street. She's the Rosanne Arnold of the chicken world. She's about as nurturing as a snake. Her own babies run from her.

Yet those babies stay outside with the rest of the flock and are a step up on the social ladder. They just keep their distance from Old Jack and his ladies. Which means they get plenty of exercise. Every photo of them is blurry since they're always on the run. They are an accepted part of the flock, but have been taught their place and they are wild as March hares because of it.

On the other side of the coop we have Polly and her babies. Polly has turned out to be an excellent mother. Even though her babies are nearly fully grown she still attends to their needs, protects them and leads them in their daily activities. The three of them are inseparable. Amazingly, Prius and her yet-to-be-named sister are now fully accepted members of society complete with perching privileges. You would hardly know they were newbies.

Interesting, very interesting. It seems it really is all about who you know.

(There were too many good suggestions from yesterday's post. I can't make up my mind. Please help me out and take a moment to vote for your favorite name in the poll on the left.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yeah, I'm Hip. I Own a Hybrid

As a matter of fact I own two. Modern hybrid chickens are planned crosses, which are hardier and more productive than their parents' respective breeds. They grow faster and lay eggs earlier than heritage birds. They are also color sexable as chicks. In the case of the Golden Comet, cockerels are white and the pullets are more brownish red in color. Makes life way easier to know what your getting. No cross dressers in this crowd. One of Polly's babies is a Golden Comet hybrid.

We named her Prius.

Another hybrid cross is the Indian River. This is a cross between a purebred Delaware rooster over the pure New Hampshire hen. Sounds like a geography lesson doesn't it?

We wanted to give this one a hip and trendy name as well but we're stuck.

Since her BFF's are Polly and Prius it seems like this girl should also have a name starting with P. Only I actually drive a big honkin' SUV and I'm, uh, not really hip. Hey, how else am I supposed to haul sheep, hay bales and chicken feed around without an SUV? I was driving one of these long before it was fashionable and I will continue to drive it even though it's not cool. Er wait? Is cool still cool? Or should I say it's hot now? That's probably not it either. Luke warm maybe? Whatever, back to the name thing.

So I'm obviously not hip and I can't think of something modern or hip that starts with a P. Then I remembered that y'all are so smart and funny I really should ask you for advice. So what do you think?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Block That Never Ends

This is the block that never ends.
It goes on and on my friends.
Someone started making it not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue making it forever just because,

Hey, if it keeps running through my head why shouldn't it be running through yours? I'm a sharing and kind person. I wouldn't want to hog it for myself.

I did finally end the block though. I like it. It's about 34" wide give or take a smidge and I'm planning to use it as a wall hanging. Just need to add a sleeve to the back.

Now I'm on to my next project. Only I can't really tell you about it. I'm on a secret mission in cahoots with Agent 99 and a few others from my quilt guild. I can reveal, however, that our first assignment from the Chief was to swap 6.5" squares. We then choose a pattern, memorized it and then ate the paper to conceal the evidence.

Okay, maybe we didn't really eat the paper. We were supposed to but it didn't taste very good. You would think it they wanted you to eat it they would make it taste like chocolate or something. Anywhoo, I'll be working on this under the cover of darkness and not revealing it until our September meeting at mission control.

Now please excuse me, I have a call coming in on my shoe.

"Yes, Chief?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Mother Nature Tree Service

We had our trees trimmed Friday night while we lounged around in our luxurious basement. We didn't have to do a thing. Mother Nature took care of it all. She didn't miss a tree.

I'm going to have to write to the service department though.

This used to be my favorite tree. It was perfectly shaped. I was looking forward to watching the sheep graze under it's boughs. I didn't want this one trimmed. Yet all the old, dead branches on other trees I did not want are still standing. I guess I should have spray painted them with a big, orange X.

She also misplaced our outdoor furniture while she was here. We'd like to know where the chair is that goes to that cushion.

But most importantly, we really feel like she could have stuck around and helped with the clean up.

I certainly won't be providing her a good reference. Wieners and marshmallows anyone?

(Don't worry, I counted beaks. All chickens have been accounted for and were unharmed.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Never Name Your Roosters Before They Crow

You remember our little Easter miracle baby don't you? The one Milah so aptly suggested we name Lazarus if it was a boy. I then decided if it was a girl I'd call it Liza, because when it closed it's eyes the lids were so dark it looked like it was wearing gads of eyeliner.

Well, it's been growing. Usually you would be able to tell by now if it's a girl or a boy. There are several things to look for. First the comb and wattles. If the comb and wattles grow in early and red you can rest assured you have yourself a rooster. Except...

roosters generally will also have erect tail feathers, like Sparky here. They tend to stand up straighter with their chest out and have a macho attitude. They like to taunt each other. Just like a lot of teenage boys I know.

Our little Easter miracle doesn't do any of that. Nope, this chicken definitely carries it's self like a hen; tail down with a horizontal stature and is very non-confrontational. But wait. See those pointy hackle feathers at the base of the tail? That's another sure sign it's a rooster. So what gives?

I've had no other choice but to sit around and wait before I could name it. But this morning while I was doing chores it finally let it's true colors show. Sir Sparky d'Uccle crows the cutest, most perfect little cock-a-doodle-do you've ever heard. Today our little Easter miracle here, however, let out the most pathetic excuse for a crow to slip past a beak. It sounded more like a cat hacking up a hairball while it's paw was stuck in a mousetrap. It wasn't pretty. But it was definately a crow.

Now we know for sure it's a boy that just acts like a girl. Our little Easter miracle appears to be a cross-dresser.

So I wonder? Should we name him Tootsie?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

She's a Lady, Whoa Oh Oh She's a Lady

May I introduce to you Lady Millie d'Uccle (pronounced du-clay) of the Belgium d'Uccle's? The lovely wife of Sir Sparky d'Uccle.

Polished and refined--she's a real class act. They say behind every great man is a great woman. I see big things in store for Sir Sparky. Big things.

Just like Jackie O., Princess Di or even Michele O'bama she has impeccable taste in fashion. Don't you just love her footwear?

Big things, I'm telling you. Big things. You just wait and see.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring, The Old Man is Snoring

And I've been hiding away in Sheville.

First I made a doll quilt with some leftover blocks.

Then I finally layered, quilted and bound my spools quilt. I've named it Jesse's Shirts-N-Skirts. Jesse was my grandmother, a farm wife, who I know made some of her family's clothing. I'll bet she had shirtings and calicoes just like this in her scrap basket.

Then I busied myself making the wonkiest quilt top to ever grace Sheville. Have you ever tried to square up any of these book panels? I'll tell ya it's enough to drive a woman to drink. I figured out why it was at the bottom of the kit pile at our kid's quilt charity sew-in. Everyone else was smart enough to run like **** in the opposite direction of it. I'm glad it's done and I can turn it in at the next guild meeting for someone else to quilt. I don't ever want to see it again.

Then since it was the seventh day in a row of rain, I started in on a Jo Morton concentric log cabin quilt.

I'll finish it after dinner. I had to stop and let everything cool down in Sheville. Things were really heating up in there with all this work going on.

Or maybe it was a hot flash?

Friday, June 5, 2009

He Shall be Named Sparky

And he shall live on the farm forever.

I don't care what Old Jack says.

I'm keeping him.

Sparky's no dummy. He's already got the ladies wrapped around his -- uh, err, well let's just say the ladies like him. So much so that Minnie was willing to stash him away behind her in the nest box to keep Old Jack away.

The littles have been loose in the coop for several days now but have yet to take a step outside. I'm starting to think it's because Sparky's afraid to get his feathers dirty.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

He's Single, Ladies.

I received a harassing e-mail from my brother. It seems he's annoyed that I haven't blogged in over a week. So I would like to take this opportunity to point out to all the ladies out there reading this blog that he is single and apparently doesn't have enough to keep him busy.

Here he is after a long day of playing golf. He also enjoys cycling, reading and he even enjoys going to the theater. Phantom of the Opera was one of his favorites. I'm telling you he's quite the catch, ladies. I'm looking for a nice girl, preferably a quilter to keep him in line and to make him start eating healthier. Any takers?

Something tells me he won't be harassing me about my blog anymore...

which I know has been neglected as of late, but I try to keep things cheery here on the blog. Only my life isn't always so cheery. Yesterday I woke to a pile of dog doo just inside the back door. While I cleaned it up I noticed the dog had eaten all of the chicken feed I had reserved for the injured chicken I have residing on the back porch. I was going to have to go get more from the coop in the pouring down rain. As I dressed, the cat started upchucking a hairball on the carpet directly in front of me. The only room in the house with carpet I might add. She could have puked anywhere else, but no. All before I even had a cup of coffee.

It's been like this for a week. So I locked myself into Sheville with a bottle of Midol and a quart of chocolate ice cream and didn't come out until I finished this cheerful crib size quilt.

Sometimes you have to make your own cheer.