Saturday, April 30, 2016

Walk in the woods

I live on 58 acres that I haven't even looked at in 3 years. Basically I've been ignoring it out of emotional baggage.

I got an inquiry from someone who would like to possibly hike, hunt, and camp on the land with their family, so I figure it was time to toss the baggage out the window and get up there on the hill. I was glad of the excuse to force myself to tackle land responsibilities I've been putting off, like clearing and marking trails and putting up new posted signs. These are things that are easy to ignore.

This time of year things are drab, but that's the best time to clear trails and prune, because bushes and grass are not yet overgrown. First task I wrote down: get someone to mow the fields and brushhog before the grass gets high this year, and get rid of all that honeysuckle.

I have an occasional friend who asks if they can walk the land. They can never find the path to the cabin. Apparently "go into the forest and turn left" isn't helpful. So I took flagging tape along on this trip to mark the Cabin Trail. I'll need to get different colored flagging for the Bear Trail and the Cathedral Trail.

Way on top of the hill is my cabin. Looks cute, huh?

Pity a tree fell on it and the roof is leaking. Sadness...

I'll need to paper the roof and run the kerosene heater in there for a long, long while. The white carpet is leftover from the Overbearing Hunter days, when a gentleman who had permission to hunt for meat (no trophy hunting) basically tried to take over my land, the cabin, and even my barn where he started parking his ATV instead of taking it home. I finally tossed him off the property in a yelling rage. I got awfully tired of waking up in the morning to discover him standing on the porch so he could ask me to warm up his coffee in the microwave. What kind of hunter doesn't own a thermos? What kind of hunter carpets a cabin with a white rug? Argh! Well, now it's a beautiful shade of green and I'll have to drag it down the hill to the dumpster.

The woods are full of dead wood, and I worry about fire. I used to have fits over the bonfires Mark and his friends would have. Now I realize those "stand around the big fire drinking beer" bonding experiences had kept all the small dead wood out of the forest, because the guys used to drag it all out to burn in the yard or field (with lots of water standing by "just in case"). So I have come to believe that men who love bonfires and beer are actually a product of farm forest evolution.

Nonetheless, I'll be breaking up the small wood to take down to the house for kindling, rather than burning it on the hill, as I'm too much of a wimp to start a bonfire so far from a fire engine.

With the Cabin Trail marked, Molly and I hit the Bear Trail on the way down. The bears follow the small gorge and end up in my back yard, therefore the name.

Clearly I need to invest in a chainsaw. High winds have brought down a ton of trees.

People have tossed tires from the road above into the gorge:

But the stream is still as beautiful as always and will be prettier still once I haul out the debris and trash:

Our walk down the Bear Trail concluded in my back yard. It goes straight from forest to yard:

And we both arrived home happily tired, and discovered a present for the cats on the porch from Jo (rescuer of Pepper and Timea):

Four cases of wet cat food! Bless her, because I was six cans away from being totally out of canned food.

People always say "Wow, I'd love to own that much land" or "Gosh, I'd love to have a cat rescue." But it's a lot of work. You can take the best care of everything, and wham, a windstorm comes along and suddenly there are six trees to clean up. You can take the best care of your cats and then, wham again, you get a litter of kittens that look fine, and suddenly break with ringworm right AFTER you took them out of quarantine.

One thing I try to remind myself is to take a deep breath and enjoy. To remember why you wanted to be in the country. Why you wanted to rescue cats. Remember those things are still there.

Whatever it is you do. Whatever it is you love.

A simple catio post to get used to blogging again

After a whirlwind cat-colony project, two work trips, and lots of back-and-forth from veterinarians and spay/neuter clinics, I finally blew the dust off my personal computer, pulled it out of the "cold room" (it's too warm for the woodstove, but too chilly to have the whole house open) and set it up next to my work computer to let the world know we are still alive out here in Spencer NY.

A catio post came across my Facebook news feed today (Thank you to the personal Facebook page of Peter Wolf of Vox Felina). You can see some great catios here.

Here's some 2011 video of kittens on our catio:

My catio has been a lifesaver for me. Back in my wildlife control days, I won a huge bird rehabilitation cage at the New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council conference. I strapped it (un-assembled) onto the roof of my truck cap, and hauled it home. I then dragged it along (still un-assembled) when we moved from West Danby to here in Spencer. Finally, I hauled it out and with much cursing, made a catio out of it. Sooner or later it will need to be replaced, since it's just stained pine, but in the meantime the cats can go outside through a window in my pantry, winter or summer.

I recently saw a post, which I cannot find, of how one might make a small window catio out of small wire dog crate. I may do that upstairs.

What I would recommend in a catio if it is going to be open day and night:

Hardware cloth. Wildlife can squeeze through 1X2 wire, and a weasel can even get through 1x1 wire. Hardware cloth will also deter (but not completely ban) larger insects like moths.

A cat door instead of leaving a window or patio door wide open to the catio. This will keep mosquitos and moths from coming into your house at night and also keeps your house a bit warmer (or cooler) when weather is extreme. They come in patio door sizes as well.

A LOCKABLE human-sized door for outside access, if you don't have door access from the inside of your house. Padlock your latch. This is just common sense. You never know when a raccoon might fiddle with it, or a neighborhood kid might think it's "funny" to open the door. There is also simple human error. Even an unlocked padlock run through the holes in the latch will prevent accidents. Then be sure to lock it when you are not at home.

A roof, whenever possible. I know lots of catios show sides that are angled in to keep cats inside, but that doesn't keep other animals out, nor keep birds out of cat food and water bowls. If you have a very large catio, you might want to use a Purrfect Fence type enclosure, or protect both sides with coyote rollers, but I wouldn't suggest allowing your cats unsupervised night-time access.

Inspect your catio regularly, especially if it is made of wood and wire or mesh. Wood warps. Staples rust or pop out. Mesh gets torn. Even wire gets weak spots. Recently I discovered my outdoor cat Buster was climbing up the outside of the catio and sleeping on the roof like a hammock. The roof material was thick but soft plastic mesh. It occurred to me a raccoon could rip through that mesh like butter, so I added a layer of chicken wire until I can build a real wood-and-shingle roof.

A Google Image search of "catio" can waste your whole morning with dreaming, but if you are considering a catio, I highly recommend looking online to see what everyone else has done!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bo and Davis stolen from Facebook

Remember Bo and Davis?

It's always nice to be Facebook friends with adopters because I get to see their continued happy lives in their new homes!

Thanks for posting photos, Meg!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

More "way too late" thank-you notes!

At the beginning of the month I stopped by Christy and Gordon's place to drop off some pink mercury glass string beads that had been in my family since before I was born. Christy has a tree every year (that I get to see, often on Christmas Eve!) that features lots of antique ornaments and lights. Since I had not used the beads for over 10 years out of fear my circulating family of young cats would topple a tree and crunch them, I presented them to Christy to use.

But you usually don't get to leave their house without coming home with something she is giving to the cats, and this time was no exception. In addition to a check (thank you G&C!) she had Comfort Zone (always a blessing!) and some cute Valentine cards I can use next year:

Hopefully their Owl House cats Phillip (gray) and Jelli (white) are staying warm this blustery day. Photo nabbed from Facebook.

Here's their tree (2014) for good measure.

Dixie's adopted!

Dixie, Solo's sister, was adopted last month into a new home with a buddy about her own age. She was a good little girl on the trip:

On the way I stopped in Endwell to drop off a crate I'd sold on Craigslist for $30. It was far too large for the work I do with ferals, especially now that I have two-level Midwest ferret cages when I need more space. I (stereotypically) assumed the person who asked for the crate had a dog. Surprise! The person had actually rescued a local cat in her neighborhood. She'd gotten him neutered and vaccinated, but then he was attacked by a dog and his leg was fractured (but not entirely broken). She needed the cage to put Professor Quinn on six weeks cage rest.

Since we talked a bit about cats, that put me a little behind, but soon we were on our winding road again down to Montrose PA, where Dixie met her new friend:

Farewell, Dixie! Have a wonderful life!

On the way back I could enjoy the extremely curvy rural roads a bit more, since obviously I wasn't going to go be-bopping along with a cat in the front seat. I came to a fast halt (actually a slow miss and a turn-around) to take a photo of a Shelter Pet Project billboard:

I love seeing those!

Buster breaks in

Last night the weather tanked. I made sure Buster-the-feral had plenty of food in the nice sheltered basement. I left the porch door open until about 10:00 pm so he had access to his food and water there as well, but then I shut it to reduce snow, and also keep out the raccoon who has been visiting.

I woke up to these butt-and-paw marks on the stand where I keep his back-up porch food:

What the heck? This worried me, because I let the house cats out on the porch and if a cat can get on the porch with the door closed, surely a cat can get off the porch.

It didn't take much looking. He found the overlap in the screen where I'm planning on putting a wood panel and took advantage of it.

That's pretty inventive given that it's four feet off the ground. Apparently the food on the porch is tastier than the nice sheltered food and water in the basement (which also showed signs of his grazing).

Hi, Lady!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

So many barfs...

With all the cats I've been bringing through the barn foster area, it's no surprise I finally dragged in something the cats could catch.

I came in one morning and discovered reddish (blood?) watery several places on the floor. Everyone seemed perky and fine. Everyone ate their wet food. I worried that someone had chewed a wood sliver. I cleaned things up and came up later to check.

More barf. Less red, and more bile-like. Hmmm. I still couldn't tell who the culprit was.

In the house, Nellie the 16-year-old had been tossing her cookies as well, but she was prone to do that now and then and I hadn't thought much about it. But then Jessie Fuzz-Bucket joined in, and Bear as well, in the house. This was--of course--on a weekend. Again, everyone was perky, eating, and drinking.

When I let Fern and Grayson out for the evening in the barn foster area, the next morning showed that one of them had the barfs as well. Damn! Since they were always separate from the other cats, more than one cat in the barn foster area was sick. Clearly it was something I had dragged on my hands, clothes or feet from one location to the other. I bleached all the cat bowls in both areas in case there was a bacterial issue (cat water bowls can develop a slime that is a breeding place for illness if not kept clean), wormed everyone for good measure, and watched everyone like a hawk.

Within 48 hours there were no more barf marks in the cat facility. Nellie and Jessie were better in the house. Ethan decided he would join the crowd but only threw up twice. Coraline also weighed in, just to be companionable. But poor Bear was clearly unhappy and finally lost his appetite. I syringed water into him regularly to prevent him from getting dehydrated to the point of needing sub-cutaneous fluids and offered up baby food. Of all the cats, he was the only one to show any other signs of illness. Three days later he was back begging for morning wet food, but had lost a pound. He narrowly escaped a trip to the veterinarian since he was on the fast road to recovery.

Throughout all of this I was sick as well with a head cold, but no stomach issues. I assure you that running around every half-hour mopping up cat barf did not assist in my road to rest and recovery. I'm feeling better, and so are the cats.

I almost posted a barf photo, but I figured that if I didn't enjoy it, neither would you!

So instead here's a shot of a recovered Bear and Coraline wondering why the heck I woke them up from their slumber.

Catching up on communication and "Thank-you, Jo!"

March was a lion all the way through. Perhaps not in weather, but in projects and cats! Not to mention a small disaster or two. I've done almost zero blogging, so while I run around getting errands done and Oliver the One-Kidney Cat supervises nearby, I'll be catching up on all the news and thanks I've failed to share.

I'm not even going to try to go in order--that's why I got delayed to begin with. "Oh, before I post THIS, I need to post THAT!" Argh! With that kind of mentality--when you are already behind--you just get more "behinder."

So first off, big thanks to Jo (rescuer of Pepper and Timea) for sending cases of canned wet food on March 18.

And before I even got to thank her on-line, sent even more food at the end of the month as well!

The food is a huge help, because I've been helping a neighbor get a fairly large cat colony spay/neutered (more to come on that) and I'm also getting the entire clan wormed, which requires regular infusions of tasty wet food (laced with pyrantal pamoate)

Pepper and Timea seem to be enjoying their stay here, although I'm sure they would really have a permanent home where they are fussed over hourly! Here is Pepper helping me change the sheets upstairs, when my sister Linda came to visit just before Easter:

Clearly a bed is not a bed without a little bit of cat fur!