cats

What’s Up, In Pictures

 

We are about to emerge from the log jam of April and May, and I have a few minutes to post some pictures snapped in recent weeks. When last I left you, Cayden was duct-taped to a cart in the driveway. Since then:

We returned to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, which I described four years ago here. It is a massive sheep spectacle-meets-craft fair, with a healthy dollop of Americana.

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Hadley and I kicked off our respective softball seasons. On a Saturday in April, we celebrated at a sun-soaked lunch.

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Since then, virtually all of our games have been rained out.

 

Last weekend, we partied at the Potomac Hunt Races. On that day, it didn’t rain, but the wind blew like the dickens. Still, lots of fun for the adults:

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Kids, too:

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Between races, Hadley, Cayden and crew hawked decorative horseshoes and pulled in a nice profit.

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Back on the farm, we discovered one of Blackie’s relatives inside the bar. Our cat Olive has also been wriggling through a narrow gap beneath the door, so it appears that cat & snake are tag-teaming the rodent population inside. Cool.

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And finally, Felix, our semi-feral cat, continues to defy the textbook prototype of a barn cat, by getting fatter and fatter. His stomach nearly touches the ground and mouse-sized mats ride his back, because he’s too tubby to groom himself. More on that later.

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Postscript —  I can’t conclude with that blubbery feline. Frequent storms and volatile weather do yield some nice sunsets, like this one last night.

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Frog Report

What happens when you want to get rid of a family pet?

You ditch the dog (or cat) and tell the kids, “We sent him to live on a farm, in the country.”

That’s fine… unless you already live on a farm.

What then?

Well, you try to foist your beast onto someone else’s farm.

That was my plan for Toulouse, our bully barn cat.

Toulouse is a 2010 model, acquired in a package deal with his sister, Olive. As I recall, we got those kittens around Halloween; Toulouse was coal-black like a panther, and Olive bore orange stripes.

Both have proven to be avid hunters, but Toulouse is a true hitman. Year ago, when voles invaded the yard, Toulouse dismantled their tunnels and devoted two straight days to rodent eradication.

Toulouse: “be the vole, be the vole…”

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Unfortunately, this summer, our black panther added Frog to his list of prey.

(Frog was also adopted as a kitten with her brother, 11 years ago. She was named by the cat lady’s daughter, who desperately wanted a pet frog. The name stuck. The kid called her brother “Cool,” but we opted for “Mel” instead.)

Pictured: Frog & Mel, wrestling on the deck, 10 years ago.

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Our cat colony has existed harmoniously until a few months ago, when Toulouse turned on Frog. After repeated beat-downs, Frog disappeared from the scene. She simply vanished.

And Toulouse moved along to beating up Mel.

That’s when I announced: Toulouse has gotta go. I posted a Facebook plea and a few folks stepped up to take him. But they lived nearby and I worried that he might be hit by a car while hiking home again.

Life got busy and project “panther placement” was shelved. I didn’t have time to deal with feline relations.

But now I have an update:

Frog has returned! She floats between our property and the neighbors’, and has staked out the back pasture and the culvert beneath the driveway — territory less traveled by the black panther. She still visits our barn to eat, but only when Toulouse is out hunting.

So for the time being, the cats — Mel & Frog, Toulouse & Olive, and odd-ball Felix appear to be coexisting.

And I’ve turned my attention to evicting another barn dweller:

Oh Possum 2.0.

Here we go again

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The Interloper

Olive is our sweet, affable — but dimwitted — barn cat.

Of the farm’s five felines, Olive is slow to respond to kids, cars and other threats to life and limb. Dopey Olive, we often say. She’s a few bricks short of a load. 

But Olive does possess an unwavering desire to lounge indoors. Leave the screen door unlatched…. crack the mudroom door to unload groceries…. and she skulks in, and bee-lines for a bed.

Once detected, she is discharged.

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Lately however, Olive has adopted a new tactic. She is a stealth, nighttime interloper.

Let me set the scene. It is 5:30 am. The house is relatively dark and I stumble groggily around the kitchen — assembling lunches — while my mind pedals through the day’s to-do list.

It is cricket-quiet and I presume I’m alone, until an abrasive SCRATCH-SCRATCH-SCRATCH rings out. I stifle a startled cry before spying the cat, clawing the couch.

Unceremoniously, I heave Olive out the door.

The next morning I’m lost in thought, when the cat freaks me out again, her darkened shape writhing in the living room shadows.

“Hey!” I yell at the kids when they emerge later. “Someone keeps leaving the damn door open and the damn cat is in the house, scratching up the couches! Shut the door, okay?”

Blankly, the kids stare back; none of them fess up.

Olive announces her presence over four consecutive mornings — clawing a different piece of furniture each day — until it dawns on me: 

This cat is beating the odds.

In the cellar I discover her entry point: she has popped out a broken, jagged window pane. The same window that I featured in my second-ever blog post, way back in 2009.  

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At the time, wise old Drippy stalked me from a perch by the basement window. But he never breached the glass barrier. He never puzzled it out.

Perhaps Olive is not as dimwitted as I thought.

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