Sunday, May 30, 2010

Apologies to an Elderly Cat

My last post was about how Boot, our 18-year-old cat, mistakenly attacked our younger cat, Irving, in the night, thinking he was a strange cat. Well, Boot was right and I was wrong.

This morning I did yard work, so didn't go in to take my shower until about noon. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move in the closet. When I checked, there was a small, strange cat sitting calmly in the closet corner. So Boot did actually see something worth screaming about...for a cat.

Our house guest is fortunately experienced in cat rescue, so got it out of the closet and into a carrier. We'll check with the neighbors, but I suspect we've been the victim yet again of a 'cat drop-off.' Both Irving and Halley came to us that way last year.

This story doesn't have an ending yet, because I don't know what the ending will be. I DO know that it would avert a lot of suffering if people would spay and neuter their pets...

Cat Dementia?

Our 18-year-old cat, Boot, started screaming horribly at 5:00 this morning. We leapt out of bed, and ran into the living room to see what was wrong. In the dim light, and by the sound of his screams, we could tell that he had an animal cornered in the den. We assumed a stray cat -- or worse -- had come in through the cat door.

He chased the animal through the house, screaming as it clawed at the windows trying to escape. Then it went under the bed and didn't come out. We got ourselves together, turned on the lights, found a broom and prepared to deal with it, while Boot looked at us as if to say, 'Over to you,' and strolled away.

We opened the door out to the deck so we could chase it outside, pulled our rolled-up oriental rugs from under the bed, and finally faced the creature, who was cowering against the wall.

It was our other cat, Irving.

We think Irving must have brushed up against Boot in the dark, and Boot, who seems to be slipping into the early stages of elderly cat dementia, mistook him for an unknown animal and attacked.

It's funny now. At 5:00 a.m. -- not so much. Poor Irving.

Here's Boot at a better time in his life, enjoying a nap.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goat Associations

Our goat Arlene has learned that if we're sitting on the pond bench, she'll get petted. Oddly, though, she's come to associate the bench itself with the petting. So if we're standing nearby, she'll go rub against the bench to show us that she wants to be petted.

She's fairly strong, so the the bench is taking a bit of a beating.

She's knocked it over before doing this.

Unfortunately, we usually give her positive reinforcement by petting her when she does it.

Come to think of it...she's right. She does get petted when she rubs her head on the bench if we're around.

Smart goat...

The people...not so smart...

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Vultures Hover

Our house guest called yesterday as she was pulling out of the driveway to say that vultures were swooping one of the goats in the upper pasture. I ran out to see, and found them lined up on the fence across the street.

It's hard not to think of the word ominous when you see a vulture, isn't it? I finally remembered that our neighbor had told us that someone hit a deer in front of our house the other day, then came back with a gun to finish it off. The carcass was hidden behind the neighbor's fence where they were sitting. My approach startled them and they flew off to line up on the neighbor's roof.

Now this is a sight you don't want to see at your own home or nearby...

They're still hanging around today. They've been swooping our deck, and lining the fence again.

There must be something in our genes that tells us to be disturbed by this sight...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fine Vines for Goats

Our two goats have an insatiable appetite for vines, and we have a plentiful supply. Well, I use the word 'we' loosely. In this picture, I'm afraid the muscadine vine Emma is enjoying actually belongs to our neighbor. I'm sure they wouldn't mind, though.

Arlene also enjoys our own vines down by the pond.

Sometimes she's joined by a little white cat, who tends to prefer grasses....and field mice.

When the goats get tired of getting their own vines, they walk over to the trees, and look longingly up at the vines, then over at my husband. They have him trained well. He comes immediately to their aid. They help him select the best of the vines, usually by doing a little taste-testing while he holds it down for them, and then he pulls the selection of the evening down.

Yes, they're completely and udderly spoiled. (Sorry, sorry, I tried to make myself not go with the bad pun, but it was just impossible.)

Posted by Picasa

Visited By a Butterfly

My husband and I were sitting outside this evening, and a butterfly landed on his hand. It stayed there, and even let him wave his hand around. It stayed so long that I finally ran in to get the camera.

I didn't get a good picture, and am not sure what kind it was. We imagined that if we looked it up, the description might say "remarkably friendly butterfly." It finally flew off, but then came back and landed on his foot.

Again I didn't get a good picture. So it was a friendly butterfly but not photogenic...because of course it must be the butterfly's fault if I didn't get a good picture.

It wasn't a Gulf fritillary butterfly, but the passionflower vines are blooming down by the pond, so we should be seeing those soon.

We should also see whatever kind of butterfly this little fellow is going to produce. (I'd look it up but I'm too lazy today.)

I'm hoping for a good butterfly year...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Hatches

We planted two bronze fennel plants in our front flower bed last year, and this year we've got gorgeous black swallowtail caterpillars all over it.

Some of them have turned into chrysalis (if I have that term right).

And today we're watching one in the process of turning into a butterfly.

They've eaten part of the plant, but that's perfectly fine.

I put the plants in the wrong place, actually. I didn't realize that they're supposed to grow four feet tall, so I put them in the front of the bed, since they were really small when I bought them. Fortunately (?), they only got to be two feet tall, probably because of the heavy clay (construction backfill) in that bed. I've been working on amending it, but it's slow going.

I planted three more fennel plants today!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Goats

Our two goats have really been enjoying the gorgeous spring weather we've been having for the last few weeks. They romp and play, rearing up in the air and then head-butting each other with what seems to us to be great force. They have so much energy, which really pleases us because they were infected with parasites when they came to us last year, and we've obviously gotten them through that.

It's so much fun to sit down by the pond and watch them play. It's interesting that goats play...but ducks don't, at least as far as I can tell. Ducks are very focused on food. Today their cracked corn bin was empty, and they followed my husband up to the house, and went into the garage looking for it. They've found it before in there, and tore open the bag, which is why we don't keep it there any more. Duck poop is not something I want in my garage.

Back to the goats, though....I love how their long, floppy ears curl when they're bouncing around.

I can't imagine what it would feel like to have one of them head-butt you. They're very careful not to do that to us, even when they're pounding past us running after each other. The cats are almost at their feet sometimes when the goats are playing like that, and I worry about them accidentally getting run over, but so far they always just miss them.

Funny how relaxing it is to see another species just enjoying life...

Posted by Picasa

The Geese Stop By

Like last year, we're starting to see more Canadian geese at the pond. Yesterday fourteen of them turned up. We've had two pairs that have been dropping by off and on for the past month, but this is a sudden escalation. You can see the goats are a little disturbed about it. For the most part, it's 'live and let live' around here, but the geese must have been standing somewhere the goats wanted to be, so they forced the issue a little...

...and the geese went into the water. They're beautiful to have around, but I have to say that they certainly are messy. We learned our lesson last year and don't feed them now, so they don't visit as often, and our pastures are less crowded with goose poop.

It was a beautiful evening. My husband fished for a bit, and I sat by the pond reading. Then we just watched the pond, soaking in the cool evening breeze after a 90's day, and felt very lucky.

May you all have many peaceful, happy evenings...

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Typical Evening

I was just finishing up making a vegan black bean chili when my husband called me to come help him deal with a persistent large turtle in the front yard. I say it's persistent because this is the second time we've had to take it back down to the pond. It's probably cursing us in turtle language, because I'm sure it thinks it's going somewhere (probably to lay eggs), but it keeps heading for the road. It got caught in the fence last time trying to get to the road.

I turned off the burner, grabbed some gardening gloves, picked it up and carried it down to the pond to release it.

Emma-the-goat followed me closely and stood on the shore with her head down toward the turtle to watch it swim away. Big mistake. While she was distracted, Arlene head-butted her from behind, nearly pushing both of us into the water.

As I caught my balance, I heard loud quacking, and saw Corky, the huge Muscovy duck in the picture below, attacking T.O., one of our two small mallard females. We have no idea why, but he's been brutalizing T.O. and P.J., the two females, recently. He almost drowned P.J. last night, and it appeared to be deliberate. (I know that's ascribing a lot of motivation to a duck, but what he's been doing is beyond the normal rough mating. He really does seem to be trying to kill her.)

I picked up a stick and started waving it to scare him off. As he ran for the water, G3, the male mallard with Corky below, flew over to take up the attack on T.O. I scared him off too. Have I mentioned recently how glad I am our neighbors can't see into our back yard?

I'd love to know why the three males, abetted by the older female Mallard, are forcing the two smaller females out. When they're not attacking them, they're ostracizing them. As a result, T.O. and P.J. spend a lot of time together. In the picture below, they got separated, and ran up to touch beaks before going off together. It was touching, especially considering what they've been going through.

P.J. stands for 'Plain Jane,' and T.O......well, that stands for 'That One,' because we never can remember what we had decided to call her. What does G3 stand for? Gus III...because we moved here with a cat named Gus, and then got a horse named Gus, so my husband insisted on naming a duck Gus too. He actually wanted to name all eight ducks Gus, but I held the line there.

Yes, we're weird.

As I stood there worrying about the two females, I felt a tug at my glove, and looked down to find a goat gently pulling on it. She wanted to be petted, of course.

I obliged her, then trudged back up to the house to put the stew in the fridge. It's a hectic pace we set here in WannaBe Land...

Posted by Picasa

Goats Have Personality

I know most people probably think that goats don't have personalities, or at least not individual personalities, but that couldn't be more wrong.

For example, I know exactly what this look from Arlene means.

It means she wants my husband to pull some of the muscadine grape vine down off the tree for her to eat. She'll go look at the vine, or the branch she wants to eat, and then turn and look pleadingly at my husband. Of course, he gives it to her. He can't resist The Look.

This next look, however, means 'pet me.' She loves having her head and ears rubbed, and will beg for it like a dog does. She's also amazingly gentle with us considering the power she's got in her body and horns. When she and Emma play by butting heads, we can hear the thud across the pasture. They must have incredibly thick skulls.

This look, of course, means 'Put down the camera and pet me -- NOW.'

Back later...I've got goat petting duty...

Posted by Picasa

You Might Also Like

Blog Widget by LinkWithin