Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Cold Weather and a Return

I remain resolved to try to post more often in this new year!

We are one month from Christmas, can anyone believe it? 

Let's get right onto it. 

This first picture is someone who brought a smile to my face, and my heart sang. 

This is my beautiful Rusty, the cat from the header. 

He looks in great shape, doesn't he?

I had not seen him in four months, and last week, I caught him on the deck camera. 

I was so relieved, and then was "rewarded" with this additional picture of him on the twenty-third. 

My theory is that when the females came from Kitty Cat Connection, Rusty gave up and departed. 

I nearly cried when I saw him last week.  

He actually came from Kitty Cat Connection four years ago, with his three siblings, as kittens. One by one, they disappeared.  I thought he had, too. 

But you know what?  Now that I stare at this picture, as I type... I am no longer sure this is he. 

The face looks too narrow, but... I am going to look at the many pictures I have of him to be sure. 

This cat, with a collar, and in great flesh, appeared Sunday night. Remember, that basin is heated. 
I pick up the cat food most nights, except when it is really frigid, and then I leave it down, because the raccoons and possums generally den up. 

I don't know this cat.  

This is the only swinging feeder I have left.... I have not had to fill it except once or twice a day, however.... for some reason, I had to refill it at least six times yesterday and today.  I finally went out there and taped it to the shepherd's hook so it will not swing.  I had so many of these feeders, but they are so wasteful... I wasted pounds of birdseed last winter.  It's far too expensive to waste this year. 
A 40 pound bag of Back Yard Blend has gone from 18.99 at this time last year, to 33.95.  I have all the feeders stored in the shop now. 

I put sunflower chips in this feeder, the most expensive of the feeds.  

Yes, it was horridly cold. 

Here is Wanda, in the big hen house.  She has made her bed in there for the last three nights. I believe Cleo, who normally sleeps rough, has run her out of the shop.  Cleo has been sleeping inside since the really cold weather hit.  

Wanda has a bad eye, and I know it looks bad here, but it is actually open when she is up and about. I am studying about how to catch her, and have talked to a local vet about her being treated there. 

Unfortunately, I was going to let her live in there... I put soft fresh straw in the nest yesterday... but this morning, as I walked out to open up... I caught her going after the old hens with mal-intent.  She was ushered out.  

There are enough mice in there that the hens should not be enticing... I suspect she was playing, but it looked rough. 

Cleo, the Queen of the Shop. 
She lets the others know it, too. 

Bullseye's work.  Remember, he started out feral in the woods. 
I have been keeping him in as much as I can, and I believe tomorrow I am going to get him a collar with a bell on it, one that can be heard by anything he is after. 

Sorry for the gore, but it's a fact of life in the country. 

There are thirty or more cardinals eating here right now, and I hate to see any go down to the Killer. 

There was another possum on the Kuranda bed... and you can just see Coco's head in the deck chair in the middle of the picture.  That is an electric heater in the middle, and I have to say that it is making the shop livable for the cats ... the possums are just visitors (I think).  In this sequence, Coco's head came up every once in a while as she made sure the possums were not bothering her. 
You can see where they have been drinking out of the heated basin in the front of the picture. 

I took this through the window last week... I felt so sorry for the birds and squirrels.  On days like this, I don't let the chickens out at all.  I hate going out, the older I get, the more I dread the cold, I admit it. 

Also staying inside in the bitter cold. 

That heater looks like it is right on the bed, it is not.  
Zoey has been in front of it all day today, and Jester is with me here in the office. 
It is 24 as I type this.  It was 52 yesterday.... go figure. 

The Killa better be glad I love him. 

Starliings gotta eat too. 

I would like them better if they didn't poop all over everything... but... I have to admit to you that I am not getting them this year in the hordes of years past. 

I watch this redtailed hawk at the bottom of my pasture every day, he is watching one of the ponds on the Spehar's property.  I always want to to tell him to turn around, there is a cornucopia of birds in my yard just behind him... but he always watches the pond and looks so cold and lonely

These guys love Back Yard Blend, though. 

So do these, and they were waiting for their turn. 

Hoping she was not The One. 

I caught these beauties up in the walnut tree. 

So grateful I foster failed.... again. 

And so grateful for this old guy, who has been accepting of everything and everyone that has come into this house in the last five years.  He's my doll, and my big buddy.... Jester. 

He is the last pet Keith and I had together.  
That smile on his face is for real. 

Comparing the two... it's Rusty. 

So relieved, I can't tell you how much. 

I'm putting food in the pasture feeder again at night, just in case. 
He's eating good somewhere, though.  

Stay warm, friends. 

Spring is in 54 days! 


Saturday, January 15, 2022

On A Roll!

Third post of the new year!  It's almost like years ago, when I posted daily!  (laugh) 

                       Here's beautiful Yeller, my only male feral. 

You will see him again later in this post. 

To me, they are all beautiful, I admit it. 

I check the front door window frequently when Zoey is out... and caught this on Christmas Day.  She literally would NOT come in at all if the weather is nice, as it was on Christmas.  It makes me feel so good to see her, though she can sometimes be naughty and keep investigating things when I call her. 

These are some of the new hens (last year's chicks) who are giving me seven beautiful eggs a day, and keeping all my friends in eggs.  They live with the silkies, which I would like to change, frankly, as they bully the smallest hen.  See the darker red?  She is one of the four I took in from the bird rescue (one was killed by a snake) and the other two went to a friend.  This hen is very friendly... never, ever goes over the side like the lighter colored hens, who usually fly out as soon as I open the door in the morning.  She always wants to see what I am doing.  

I made a little nest with fresh straw behind a carrier I keep in that house... and the tiniest hen began to lay in there.  She is hard to see, she is so small and the light was so bad... but she only weighs about a few ounces, maybe a pound. 

My little Wanda has an eye infection, and will have to go to the vet this coming week.  This was when it was incipient, last week.  It is watering a lot now, but she can keep it open more, if that makes sense.  

This morning, in our blustery blowing snow, I found Wanda curled up in the straw... Coco, Lil, and Cleo all in the shop waiting for breakfast. 

Cleo, eating last night.  She is so funny... if she is still hungry, she lays there and looks at me, as if to say "more".  Of course, I take it out to her.  In the beginning, she would not come near me.. now, she will come right up to me... I stepped back to take the picture. 

I just realized it is blurry... sorry about that. 

This looks like soup, but I actually made a really thick gravy and made it into a stew last week, servied with biscuits.  

That was one of the best pieces of meat I have gotten lately, but wow, just like everything else... was expensive. 

There's Wanda's eye looking a little worse on the 8th.  I took a good look at it this morning.. she was curled up in the cage you see behind her on the right... and I could easily have shut the door, but we have terrible weather today, and driving is treacherous.  Remember, she is feral, I can't just pick her up and medicate her.  I have my car ready to load the cage in (back seat down, etc.) but I have to have help loading her, and a place to take her that will treat a feral.  I am working on it.  
Oddly, the eye looked better this morning, I was two feet from her and she sat calmly.  It has seeped down by her nose, but... the eye itself looked better.  She has been playing, eating, and running around the yard every day, so I have not gotten alarmed.  I'm working on it. 

These guys crack me up. 
I pick up the dry cat food as I turn the lights out at night, except for a cup full I pour on the floor. There is a low basin with warm water in there, though (and a deeper heated bowl)... expressly for the possums and mice, so they visit nightly.  I no longer have horses (opossums carry a disease fatal to horses) and can welcome them. 

Lil took a turn under the warm light. 
Here is the deal... when I hung that chick light, I went out frequently to make sure the Kuranda bed was not getting hot... it does not.  I believe the cats can feel the warmth from the bulb just fine, because they all vie for the bed in turn.  The funny thing is, I think I have a picture somewhere of a POSSUM up there! 


In years past, there would be hundreds of starlings eating at the feeders.  I have purposely not put 
pounds and pounds of seed out this year... and only in the last few days have seen more than ten or so starlings.  I have a LOT of blue jays and cardinals.  

On this feeder is a mix of small seed... nyger, etc. and mealworms, which I buy in bulk at 
Tractor Supply. 

On the big flat feeder that Keith built years ago, goes Backyard Blend from Valley Feed, which I have fed for years... but... it has gone from about 20.00 for 40 pounds, to 33.95 for forty, and I am going to have to feed MUCH less.  I used to buy three bags a week in the past, but no longer.  
I am restocking today, because we got about four inches of snow and it was blowing hard this morning, but generally, I now put a bucket out in the morning, and then replenish about 3 PM. 

Another picture that makes my heart sing.  

Here comes Yeller last night to get a bowl of wet food.  I had seen him, and took one out. 

Here let me talk about the Cat Food Problem. 
I decided early on I would feed the ferals only dry food, to encourage them to well... be feral. 
All of them like to mouse, I have found them all but Yeller in the hen houses off and on. 
Unfortunately, my two house babies are bird killers (they are both in today, because the birds have no defense in the snow)... 

But... I  failed.  I give them all wet food daily, too.  And herein lies the problem. 
There is a wet cat food shortage.  

The commissary literally had maybe fifty cans of (expensive) wet food on the shelves when I shopped on Wednesday,  and I forgot to check yesterday when I had to run in there for something.  I have had to go to Sam's Club, and I noticed two days ago that now THEY are getting thin.  I bought an extra (expensive) box on Thursday, but I am wondering if I should go back tomorrow, if the roads are cleared, and buy another big box.  

The other thing I worry about is what if something happens to me? 
I do have a friend who is a cat rescuer, who is aware of everyone here, thank heavens, but it is a concern. 

I leave you with this funny.  I am actually going to go out and fill the feeders again, and come back in and look at seed catalogs! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

What the Heck? Another New Post!

Second post of the year and it is only the fourth! 

Man, does this tell you how the days have been going?  I have already done chores but will go back out in a few minutes to move some chickens around.  When the cold is bitter, I do not let them out at all.... today they can be out with the frozen sleet/snow on the ground.  It is being stubborn and only slowly melting, and unfortunately, we go back into the freezer tomorrow for two days. 

I have a good friend in Canada (Hi, Leanne) and she tells me it is MINUS 40 Fahrenheit there right now... UGH... she says her three dogs run out, potty, run back in, and that is the extent of it. 

I would be worried sick about all the wild animals. 

Speaking of wild animals, I poured this pile of cat food out of the bowl 
two nights ago, and left it for any animal that happened by in the bitter cold. 
It was still there yesterday morning, and I set the bowl of new food by it (you can just see it). These are in the old garage, where I keep my tractor and gardening things. 

This morning, it was all gone. 

It was these guys, I am sure.  Here they are in the shop, my cement-floored barn... where the 
feral kitties are fed.  They are cleaning up spilled food in there.
There is also a heated basin of water in there for them and the mice... I have three of these basins in different areas.  

My boy Bullseye is outside right now, and cried to go out even in the bitter cold. 
He kills songbirds, though, so it is hard for me to let him out.  This morning I found a vole 
dead on the side of the house, it must have been very hungry to come out in this weather. 
(one of the cats got it) 

I put all of Christmas away by yesterday afternoon... it's a good way to start the new year with a clean house. 

So, over the course of the weekend, we had very bitter cold and a sleet/snow episode.  The ground is still partly covered with this icy mixture, which thawed a little yesterday and then re-froze. 
Please know I am taking extra care when walking ... breaking a leg or hip would be a disaster for me. 

I worried about the feral cats.  In the shop, there are two large cages that are bedded with hay. 
It is clear cats are sleeping in them, but yesterday I found the largest was also full of poop, which I hope to clean out this afternoon and re-bed. 
There is a Kuranda dog bed in there with a blanket.. someone has slept there. 
There is a dog house on blocks in the old garage (the shop and garage are on the original property line, far from the house) and Wanda sleeps in there regularly.  But I had not seen Yeller daily, or Cleo, the beautiful calico. 

For the last three days, I have left a full bowl of cat food on my porch, and last night, I looked out and Yeller was eating.  I opened a can of food for him and took it out, and he ran back up and ate it all. 

So, I relaxed a little.  I had not seen Cleo since Saturday morning, and was worried.  I saw cat foot prints coming through the gate as I worked it loose from the ice... but no cat anywhere. 

I could have relaxed. 

For the very first time, when I sat down to review the cam from the shop... there she was. 


Now that I know she is aware of how to get into the shop, I will rest easy. 

She clearly knows how to come in through the hole in the wall.

Oh, Hi!

But this also relieved me... it's Diamond Lil, whom I call Lil, eating yesterday.  I had not seen her for four days, she is very secretive... I was glad she had made it through the bitter cold.

There goes Yeller across the deck yesterday, and there he is in the shop eating on the first, so I can relax about him, too.  I had not seen him in the shop since Diamond Lil (Lil) and Coal (Coco) were put in there.  

Here are my two buddies, Wanda (Wawa) and Coal (Coco) eating on the first. 
These two girls greet me when I go out to do chores, and run alongside me after running to me. 
As of this morning, Coco has let me stroke her back twice as she eats.  Wawa wants to be 
my buddy so badly, she will run to me and roll on her back, batting her paws... but she is still just a little too scared of human interaction.  

Coco and Lil came from a large feral colony on the Missouri side of our state lines... and were truly, truly feral.  For Coco to let me touch her was a big deal. 

These girls are also frequently in the hen houses hunting mice when I go to close up at night. 
Wanda did not look great the morning of the coldest night... but she soon warmed up.  I am 
too afraid to put an electric heater in the shop without a human being in there. 
I did have a heated cat house ... but no one ever went into it, it was pristine and I finally unplugged it two days ago.  I believe, because it had a flap on the front, they were too afraid to try it.  The two 
cages full of straw have been helping them with the cold. 

The sheep barn also has a deep bed of straw in it, but no one appears to be using it. 
I have seen NO raccoons on camera since the end of last week. 

Right now it is 40 degrees... I am going to go work on that cage (re-bedding it) and 
move some chickens.  The little silkies who go out to a pen every day cannot use their pen right now, it is full of snow-sleet.  I am putting them in the "feed room" side of the big hen house where they can move around more than their brooder pen they sleep in.  Not ideal, but it works, and they will all have to be in for the next two days. 

Stay warm and safe, friends! 


Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year 2022!

Happy 2022! 

The year we learn to live with coronavirus in all its' iterations... the year when bragging that "I'm fully vaccinated and boosted" isn't a thing any more... because everyone is.  The year we remember the nearly 1 million Americans lost.  My heart has gone out to all the families who have lost loved ones, and yes, a dear friend lost her unvaccinated brother just a few days before Christmas.  

But... on to happier things.  

We have opened 2022 with a bang here, with sleet coming down and the temps dropping from 57 yesterday to 19 right now.  Crazy! 

Last February, we had a prolonged spell of sub-zero temps, and I bought several electric heaters to supplement my propane furnace.  I kept one of those in the house all year, unused, in a corner.  It is on this morning to provide supplemental heat in the kitchen and living room.  Jester's bed is fairly close to it, and until he joined me here in the tiny bedroom that is my office, he was snuggled in the warmth coming from the heater. 

This wonderful train is in the yard of Wayne Strandt, here in the county. 

This is Wayne and his daughter.  Wayne is a long-time volunteer at The National Agricultural Center, as I am.  He works on the train there, which is a smaller gauge than this one that he is working on at his home. 
This train originally ran at Fairyland Park, in Kansas City, Missouri.  It was painted in Santa Fe colors back then, and I am sure I rode it as a child when my father's company had their company picnics there. 
This display is lit up at night, Santa pulling the dwarves, and the Grinch following along, behind. 
It has brightened the neighborhood around Wayne for several weeks. 

And no, he does not use a crane to get it to his front yard!  (secret) 

Little Bullseye has pretty much taken over here.  I ended up on the couch... oops, I see my potato chips made it into the picture, along with the messy kitchen.  I have true after-Christmas blahs. 

This picture serves two things.  One... my friends Barbara and Charles gifted me this beautiful casserole dish on Christmas Eve.  
The second is the small rack of country ribs from my friends The Gray Family, who sell the most amazing pork, and I have fixed it for about every holiday meal in the last two years. 
I actually am working on a big bowl of soup made with the Christmas ham steak... I used finely cut ham, onion, celery, potatoes,  and the Better Than Bouillon Garlic Base to make a wonderful, savory soup.  I thickened it with heavy cream and cornstarch... there is enough for two more meals, and I ate it last night with warm soft bread on which I had spread garlic butter. 

Zoey in her Kansas City Chiefs dress.  I don't leave it on long, don't worry. 
However, she is currently asleep in the bed in the living room snuggled in a sweater, to fight the cold.  I don't like to let her out in very cold weather without protection. 

They have pretty much taken me over when I sit down to watch tv at night. 

There is one strange thing about Zoey, however.  If I cough or sneeze, she appears to be terrified, and bolts.  If she is on the bed at night, I have to turn over and sneeze into the mattress, lest she jump.  I am not sure what happened to her in the past, but she cannot bear it.  

Here is feral Cleo eating the other morning.  I don't know where she is sleeping, I checked the sheep barn but the straw I put in there a month ago appeared to be undisturbed (last year, a possum slept in there).  She shows up and just lays there, waiting for me to bring food, but she also eats from the bowl on the deck regularly.  

Right in back of where Cleo is eating, there is now a low basin that is heated for the 
wildings to drink.  

I pushed the bait box (the only thing I ever do to hurt anything here... we were invaded by mice last year and I had to start) further back under the deck. 

My grandson Nathan and his daughter, my great grand Aurora. 
I went down to see them the week before Christmas in Garnett, about 70 miles from here. I did not know until I left there that neither were vaccinated, and now Aurora's mom, Rachel, is sick. 
I will have to enjoy pictures of her until they get vaccinated, I'm afraid.  

She is a beautiful little girl. 

This misty view greeted me Thursday morning as I looked down the hill to the east. 

A last look at Big Santa, who was put away the day after Christmas.  
I left the deck lights up for a while... I may just leave them up, I like to see them at night when I get up. 

The yellow glow in the background is being cast by the yard light... without it, it is pitch black out there. 

I just realized you can see a star directly over the house! 

Even the squirrels are fat here. 

My Jester boy will surely be in it. 

I just sat here and brought the blog up on another Google page, and I am copying the 
entry I made for December 31, 2011 here.  It was interesting to read all the projects 
Keith and I had planned to do that coming year, 2012... and I can tell you 
about 80% did not get done, unfortunately. 
It was interesting to read, though, and I wish some of those things could have come to pass. 


If you cut and paste that into your browser, you can read it, too. 

I did not get Christmas cards done this year, there was just too much going on. 
My son took a series of pictures a few days before Christmas... and this was about the best of the bunch! 

Happy New Year, Everyone!  Be safe out there! 
and as always, thank you for reading!