Friday, June 30, 2006

Head count in June

I can't help myself. I love animals. If it were possible, I would have a couple of goats and more indoor cats and another dog or two. (I think Farmer Jeff would end up building his own little barn if I did that!!!)

As it is, I seem to be acquiring more chicks! I really don't MEAN to get more...but the folks at Western Farm, our nearest chicken supply place, has been tempting me wildly with new kinds of exotic babies! What is a Chicken Mama to do???

I think I have mentioned the 8 Marans chicks that we got back in late May. Along with them we also picked up 2 Brabanders aka barbanders and Brabands. They are too funny. They have little mohawks... and so now they are named Sid and Nancy, in memory of Sid Vicious (the Sex Pistols) and his girlfriend, Nancy.

The newest babies are 2 silver laced Wyandottes and 2 black
Austrolorps! The Wyandottes will look something like the Plymouth Barred Rocks, but with more color definition. The Austrolorps are actually Australian Buff Orpingtons, but someone in proper Orpington society didn't think the Australians to be as refined hence the new name. I was told they were big frumpy girls. From the drawing, I can see what they mean!

I want to move the Marans and Brabanders out to the main coop, but first have to wrap the entire cage in hardware cloth to prevent the rats from nibbling on them. I just can't let that happen. Just when I think the rat problem is under control (because I haven't seen them!) they return from vacation or the rat convention and just start in on the food again! RATS!!!

As for the rest of the gang, we had a tragic accident almost 2 weeks ago. All 3 of the little feral kittens were hit and killed. The road is an unforgiving place. I just don't think they realized how to survive around it. The efforts to catch Mama Joleen are back. I hope we can do it before she gets pregnant again. I am also trying to find out who her handsome black persian lover belongs to ...and see if we can persuade them to get him neutered!!!

The indoor kitties, Julian and Ginger, are both fine. Julian continues to lounge in the tub...when dry, and Ginger sleeps a lot and stands guard over the bathroom.

The dogs are all good. They have been having fun in the sports arenas that Farmer Jeff has created with planting dirt. Right now Tasso is playing "King of the Hill" on top of the pile of redwood bark in the dog pen. That will soon be spread out, but in the meantime, he is making the most of it!!!

So...the count is as follows:
Indoor cats - 2
Dogs - 3
Porch kitties - 5
Chickens - 38

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Secret Lives on Eastside Road

I have been watching the animals here on Eastside Road and thought it was time to expose their secret lives.

Ginger's life is not that much of a surprise. Once Chicken Mama and Farmer Jeff leave the house, she is on the phone with her girlfriends, has her toe nails done and then her personal masseur arrives, giving her a personal rubdown.

India sleeps a lot with her new medicine for her spells. She sleeps and dreams of chasing the jets in the sky that leave vapor trails. She can fly and is wearing a red cape, barking across the skies.

Callebaut has gotten hold of someones cell phone that fell out of a car up on the road and is ordering pizzas to be delivered! He is also sneaking some cold cerveza out of the outdoor fridge to wash down that pepperoni. No wonder he isn't losing any weight.

I finally discovered what Tasso is doing under the house. He has a ham radio down there! He is calling up his buddies down on Bayou Teche! I guess he really misses his buddies. I overheard him talking about his friend Alphonse Robicheaux, a fisherman. The fishing just isn't what it used to be before the hurricane.

I am actually worried that the hens are going to get caught by Farmer Jeff and Chicken Mama. They have set up a really big illegal bingo game and those girls take it PRETTY seriously! The blue jays and sparrows keep trying to crash the game, but Millie, Wild Girl and Elba won't stand for it! Those girls are the best bouncers around!

The Porch kitties are trying to come up with something to sell on the street. An awful lot of cyclists ride by, so they were thinking of selling water or lemonade. They have been trying to sell freshly cut herbs but don't want to cut so many that anyone notices.
If only the rest of the world knew.

As for me, I'll just continue to observe and report.
Signing off,
Gato Mysterioso

Friday, June 09, 2006

To Trap or Not to Trap - That is NOT the Question!

Perhaps this is a good time for me to get up on my soap box about pet owners being responsible by spaying and neutering their pets. I have always believed that there are far too many unwanted puppies and kitties in the world. The only way to prevent that is by getting your pets spayed and neutered. All of our domestic pets/animals, with the exception big ol' Callebaut, have been rescue cases. Ginger, the Princess, was the only remaining kitten of her litter because she was hiding while the rest of her litter was discovered and ...killed. She was bottle fed by some lovely people her in town and we were able to adopt her once she was of age. (She is sitting behind me, meowing and purring, and extending her paw out to touch my face but with CLAWS extended!!!
India was adopted from the local county shelter. Her history is unknown, but we are guessing she ran away just one too many times.

Julian was adopted from the local shelter and has grown up to be a bruiser. That boy is getting bigger every day!

Tasso was rescued from a "kill shelter" in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was driven across country by a group of volunteers and ended up in a commune in Marin. From there we brought him home.

For all of these animals, we had them spayed or neutered at the earliest possible moment.
The feral cats have been a bit of a challenge. The very first one to show up was Porky. I wrote about him in September '05. He showed up one night and two nights later he showed up with his mom, Joleen. Three weeks after that Joleen brought out the next litter. We had NO idea where she came from, but clearly someone had dumped her. She so desperately wants to be close to us...but not TOO close. I have tried to approach Joleen ever since she appeared. When I was younger we had feral cats and were able to tame 2 out of 17. I have tried all of the tricks I know, to no avail.

A friend of mine works for Forgotten Felines. The first night that he came over to help us trap the kittens and Joleen, our precious Porky was hit and killed on the busy road in front of the house. That night we caught 2 kittens. We tried putting out the traps every 2 weeks, the night before the Forgotten Felines clinic. I have caught all of the kittens, had them all spayed and neutered, have caught a racoon, and have caught all of the kittens AGAIN at least 3 times, all in a vain attempt to catch Mama Joleen.
About 3 months ago, after Joleen had gone on a walkabout, she re-appeared pregnant. Right about that time, one of her other precious kittens, Boomer, was hit and killed in front of our house. Out of the original 6 kittens, only 4 are left. Now we have the third litter to deal with. Once they reach 1 pound each (I am thinking next week) I will begin putting the trap out again to see if we can get the kittens AND Mama Joleen. I hope we can catch some.

In the meantime, I am going to do my best to see if I can find the owner of our suitor, the big puffy and beautiful black cat we have seen around here lately sporting a dashing red collar. CASANOVA!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Now Presenting Litter 3!

A couple of weeks ago, while I was out front weeding the roses and strawberries, out emerged 3 little fluffy, puffy kittens with a very cautious Mama Joleen. Dear Joleen, she has now brought us her THIRD litter of kittens! We have been able to trap and either spay or neuter her first two litters, but have been unsuccessful in trapping her. The kittens are now about 6 weeks old, we think.

We have an all black one that looks just like Thunder and we have named it Tito. That is what we came up with that is pretty close to Thunder or T2. was better than Mr. T, which for a nano-second, was under consideration.

The next one is white with black and gray spots much like Mama, but with little dark spots on either side of the mouth, so the kitten has been saddled with Groucho. She is pretty darn cute...but could surprise us and be a boy.

The last one, and most unusually marked is Rocky, named after the black mask over her eyes. She has a base of white with black and almost orange-honey colored spots.
This picture is of her eating with her big sisters, Chloe and Thunder.

We have so much fun watching them play with one another, learn how to scratch on a tree, how to climb up on fences and just be kittens. I was hoping to catch them when they were 3 or 4 weeks old, but I still can't get near them now. Apparently if you catch them while they are young you have a much better chance of being able to tame them.

After the 9 or 10 months that the other kittens/cats have been around, we are getting closer every day to being able to pet them. Tiger desperately wants to be in the house, and Chloe and Thunder all sit on the rug outside the door in the morning, waiting for us to come out. The cats all greet us outside when we arrive home and they even jump up in the window and peer in, trying to see what life inside looks like.

The latest mouth count, as in how many we have to feed everyday, is up to 46, not including me or Farmer Jeff. I know that we will lose some. That is the way on the farm and the road. In the meantime, they will bring us great joy, some eggs, wet licks, snuggles and more joy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Update on the Beak Girl

I took Tyner to the bird specialist yesterday after work and he said she had been bitten, most likely by the same rat that bit her sisters and killed one of them. The bite had broken her jaw and then it had healed crooked. Poor girl. I had no idea. At least now I know that it wasn't anything I had done, but my vet wanted to know why it took so long for me to recognize it. Hm. Well, I have over 35 chickens now and another 13 cats and I kinda don't notice EVERY detail. (I still feel bad!)

My dear vet is accustomed to working with very rare birds and detailed what we could do to help her. The first 2 ideas were a form of wiring/orthodonture that would run between $700 and $1500. I don't think so...not when I paid $3.50 for her. Oh...and I would have to hand feed her for the rest of her life. Once again, I don't think so!

The solution that I could accept was performing physical therapy on her beak to strengthen it and move it over so it matched up. I have to do this 10-15 minutes per day. She is going to hate me.