Animals of the Homestead-Chevy Update

I was hoping a Coworker would adopt our little Chevy, but when I probed him for an answer he was unsure he wanted to add another animal to his home.  The chaos in the house was becoming overwhelming for me.  The dog barking anytime the cats fussed, Chevy pouncing on covers as I tried to get my child to sleep… I felt as if I was going to break.

I decided to play the social media card as I know a LOT of animal loving people and was hoping one of them might make a good home for her.  The same day I reached out a friend contacted me and said she wanted her and would come pick her up THAT evening.  The answer was a blessing.  My son knows the people and can get regular reports on the baby kitty when we see them and she didn’t care when I told her, “I do want to warn you she’s into everything.”

I have gotten updates that Chevy happily chases their dog around the house and snuggles with them at night.  I am so thankful this little kitty found us and we were able to find her a kind and loving home.  The house is almost a little too quiet, but much more peaceful.

Animals of the Homestead-Chevy

It was a Thursday when she came to us.. . . because we couldn’t have a normal week.  My husband had just taken out the trash and told me “We have chickens at our gate”.  I seriously thought he was messing with me, but no sure enough there was a rooster and a chicken at our gate.  Smudge took care of that and ran up on the fence scaring them across the street.  I threw him in the house to keep him from getting any ideas about chasing them across the street and went back to my morning routine.  I was strapping the boy in the car seat to take him to school when I heard the crying meow of a kitten.  I turned around and started scanning.  Sure enough, there was a baby kitten under my husband’s work truck.  I picked her up, brought her inside, showed her to my husband, made a makeshift litter box out of a box added some food and litter and stuck her in the bathroom to deal with when we got home.

When I did rescue I fostered 8 kittens at once and I had promised myself after that I would never have another kitten again.  Now I remember why.  Kittens are a little on the crazy side.  They are full of energy, that want to play all the time, with everything that moves, including the covers at bedtime.

The dog took to the kitten immediately adopting her like she was her own offspring.  Playing with her and protecting her from the older cats.  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t want another cat.  I was more than happy with our 3 cats and dog, but here she was and what are you supposed to do when they show up on your doorstep?  I thought if it doesn’t work out she’s little and cute and we can find her a home.

Chevy is a pistol.  She has no fear.  Not of the dog, not of the cats.  She is a brave explorer of anything she can climb.  She even had the privilege of being looked in the lazy susan pantry due to her curiosity.  She is already an excellent bug hunter and would probably flourish outside, but with as many snakes as we’ve had at our property lately I would never let her out being so small.  When she is not being a wild huntress, she also has a softer side.  You can pick her up and she immediately starts purring.  You can hold her like a baby and she likes to get right up next to you to cuddle at night.  She is quite a character.  I’m just not sure she is the right character for our household.

We got her spayed this week and I talked to my friend in rescue about putting her in the adoption program.  She is driving poor Boo nuts with all her antics, and the dog has been too aggressively protecting her baby.  I can’t take all the barking every time one of the cats makes any type of sound that sounds like fussing.  I have a co-worker who’s interested in her.  I think he’s going to take her home this weekend or next week.  I hope so, it would be nice to know where she ends up.  It’s a little heartbreaking caring for a creature and then having to part with it, but we have to do what’s best for the whole homestead.  I just hope the boy, as sensitive as he is, takes it ok.

Animals of the Homestead- Boo Kitty

 

Boo Kitty appeared in our yard a few months ago.  I first spotted her across the street in the neighbors yard.  She was trying to come across the street into our yard, but our “guard” kitty kept chasing her back across the street.  The week following, our neighbor asked if we were missing a cat.  I asked if it was a black cat and she said yes and I told her I thought it was a stray.  She said she was going to feed it.  I thought that was a grand idea.  A week or so later she was lounging in our yard.  The dog ran up to her and she just laid there in the yard.  Sadie nudged her and pranced a little then nudged her again.  The cat stayed where she was.  The dog looked up at me with a goofy grin that said “We have a new kitty?”  and that’s how we ended up with Boo.

Boo was nothing but skin and bones when she appeared in our house.  My thought was, “I’m going to have to fatten this kitty up before I take her to get her spayed.”  In the mean time, she has endured much torture by the child, has been bullied by our outside kitties, she’s also done a bit of bullying, at one point claiming the back porch and not letting the boys on it.  She’s left us presents of lizards and finally found her way inside.   Her confidence in the presence of the dog and her lovey, cuddliness in the house led me to believe that she had at one point in time been someone’s pet.

This past week we final made an appointment to get Boo spayed and this is where the story gets interesting.  The vet tech called me in the afternoon after we had dropped her off and told me that when they had shaved her down in preparation for her spay they noticed she already had a spay scar.  When we picked her up they hadn’t microchipped her either because she already had a microchip.  Why I didn’t think to take her to get her scanned for a microchip I don’t know.  I sucked it up and called the microchip company, because if it was my cat I’d want her back and I wanted to do the right thing.  They said there was an owner listed and they would get back to me shortly.  Not 5 minutes later my phone rang.  It was my friend I’ve done rescue with for years.  “Do you have my cat?” she asked me.  We both laughed.  What are the odds that this cat that showed up at my home was one from her rescue?  “Do you want her back?” I asked.  “No, you can keep her.” she told me.

So, Boo Kitty is ours.  She is incredibly sweet but the addition of 2 cats over the past few months has upset the balance of the house.  Smudge and Rocky try to chase Boo out of “their” yard if she goes outside, and inside she has to endure the torture of the baby kitty and the dog who barks at her if Boo fusses at the baby kitty because she thinks it is her baby kitty.  We’ve been thinking about trying to make arrangements to either find Boo a new home or the baby kitty a new home, but the boy loves all his kitties and it is a rather hard decision to have to make.  We are hoping maybe Grammy will take Boo to her house that way we can still see her on a regular basis.  We will see how it goes. . . until then. . . Boo makes the decision harder because she does give the most awesome hugs.

Animals of the Homestead-Smudge

Smudge holds a special place in my heart.  He came to us after two of my cats passed within months of each other.  (one was 21 and the other 10 but diabetic). When I felt  I was ready, I contacted my friend who does rescue.  I went over to her house to see who she had available for adoption.  No one jumped out at me or seemed to want to come home with me.  She insisted I come up to the clinic and meet one of the kittens that she currently had housed up there.  She told me he would be perfect for me, and she has this certain knack for matching people and cats, so I went for it.  My husband and I went to the clinic and met this handsome, fluffy brown tabby.  He wrapped his little paws around my neck and purred.  He was perfect and I immediately feel in love.

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Smudge is the type of cat that everyone (even people who don’t like cats) loves.  He has a huge heart for such a small creature.  He loves his animal friends.  He immediately took to Bella, whom I was hoping would take to him as I didn’t want her to be lonely after her longtime housemate passed.  In fact, Smudge is the only cat Bella loves on.  You can often find the two of them curled up together, and if it wasn’t for her I’m not sure he would venture back into the house as often as he does.  I tried to keep him an indoor cat, but when he discovered there were other cats outside he was fascinated.  He wanted to make new friends, so he became and indoor outdoor cat and immediately tried making friends with the outdoor kitties.  It took them a little while, but Smudge finally won them over.  Sadie loves all her kitties and Smudge took to her soon after his arrival.  Smudge is probably Sadie’s favorite of the kitties.  He runs to greet her, twines in between her legs and even chest bumps her.  Smudge even played with the rabbit we had for the short while he was a residence in our household.

Smudge has lovingly tolerated the love of  a baby and toddler, not once reacting in a mean way, even when the boy was being quite rough with him.  If his tolerance level had reached its peak he would run to the door and meow with a look asking to PLEASE be let outside for a break.  The Babe calls him “UM” a nickname lovingly given as he couldn’t pronounce Smudge, but he kind of stuck and I often find myself calling for “UM’ kitty with the babe.

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Smudge also likes to greet our friends and family.  He has been known to try to climb up your legs for a little attention or jump in your lap to head butt you in the chin.  He is a big love bug.  He is also a hunter.  As much as I didn’t want him to be an outside cat he has flourished.  He is an avid climber, explorer, and hunter of all small creatures.  As much as I try not to have favorites I have to admit if I did, Smudge might be at the top of the list.

Animals of the Homestead- Sadie

Sadie is our one and only dog.  A Catahoula mixed with who knows what and  I couldn’t have asked for a better dog.  She has the sweetest disposition and loves other animals.  She loves playing with other dogs at the dog park and even tries (annoyingly so) to make friends with the shy dogs or the nervous dogs at the park.  She follows them around trying to help them relax or if they are being extra feisty she will herd them away from the larger pack of dogs at the park.  She loves and protects all her cats, even if they don’t necessarily love her back.

The cats, as well as my husband, child and myself, are part of her pack and she takes care of her pack.  She is extra gentle with my parent’s 15-year-old dog when she comes over when my parents are out of town.  She even did fairly well with the rabbit for the short while we had him.  She was surprisingly wonderful with our son.  When he was a baby she growled at me when I blew raspberries on his tummy because she thought I was growling at him and she didn’t like it.  She kept close to him when new people came over to make sure she trusted them with her newest pack member.  She puts up with his often rough man-handling (because he also shares his food with her) and is almost always a part of our frequent park adventures.  She wants to make friends with everyone, child, adult or animal.  She has a gentle soul, and old soul, and is so incredibly wise for a dog.

So how did we get so lucky as to obtain this dog you might ask?  It went something like this. . . I was at the vet with my diabetic cat and I ran into someone I had worked with during my rescue days.  Her rescue worked with both dogs and cats whereas the one I had worked with was cats only so I asked her if she had any Border Collies or Aussie Shepherds available for adoption.  She did not, but had received an email from a woman needing help placing what she thought was an Aussie Shepherd, so she forwarded the women’s information to me.

The women was a park ranger and the dog in question whom she called Sadie was abandoned in one of her parks.  After she had been at the park for about a week and it started to flood the women couldn’t take it any longer and brought the dog home.  She already had a German Shephard puppy in an apartment and didn’t feel it was fair to have two large dogs in such a small space so she was looking to find a home for Sadie.  When we met with Sadie she was sweet and happy so we decided to bring her home.

After we had Sadie for about a month I could totally understand why someone might have abandoned her in a park.  She was very high energy and needed a LOT of exercise and stimulation, a far cry from the low maintenance Pit Bulls that I had owned previously.  She also couldn’t be trusted home alone not to find something to amuse herself with while we were gone, she had a fondness for nibbling things like my books and my favorite shoes. . . After Crate training, finding the dog park, and my husband being able to take her to work either to ride along with him or play with his bosses dog all day, she settled down enough to where we no longer wanted to abandon her at a park.  She got along great with the cats inside the house and she was a great exercise companion for me.  All in all, after we learned how to handle a smart working dog, we feel in love with our Catahoula Mix and I’m so glad we have had the pleasure of owning her.

Animals of the Homestead- Bella

We’ve recently had an upheaval in our animal pack as two new unexpected additions have been introduced, so I thought it was time to tell the stories of each of our critters.  Every one of the animals under our care is a rescue of sorts.  I worked in animal rescue for about 10 years before I became kind of burned out and took a break from it.  I was recently thinking about taking the plunge and delving back into it when two new cats appeared on our doorstep. . .

I’ll start with out oldest critter and tell her story and make our way through down to the youngest and more recent additions.

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The Story of Bella

I originally brought Bella home 20002ish to be a companion to my male cat at the time, Scout.  She was part of a litter of 6 kittens that was brought into the shelter I was volunteering at.  She and her littermates were found in the attic of a vacant house by a realtor.  The mother cat couldn’t be found but the realtor managed to gather up all the kittens.  I wish I had pictures of them.  They were tiny little fluffballs when they first came into the shelter.  They looked like little Chow Puppies they were so incredibly poufy.

Five of the kittens were solid black and one was a little brown tabby.  They were all so incredibly sweet.  You could place them in your lap and they would just roll around to be loved on and pet.  I’ve never since met a litter of kittens that were all so charming.  After sitting with all the kittens at an adoption event all day,  I decided that I wanted to bring one home to be a companion to Scout.  I picked  the remaining little girl and brought her home.  I named her Bella for the little black beauty that she was.

Bellas is all beauty and sweetness.  She is mild mannered and shy.  She can often be found hiding or sunbathing in a window.  She was an awesome companion to Scout until his death from his diabetes a few years ago.  They could often be found cuddling together (or him pinning her down cleaning her while she made annoyed faces.)

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Bella is the type of cat you wouldn’t know we even have.  She is a night owl and you often don’t even notice her until evening time when she comes out to cuddle with you on the couch or curl up in bed with you.  She loved her Scout and I felt horrible for her when he passed.  He was her protector,  smacking the dog around if she bothered her.   Her snuggle buddy, and slightly annoying little brother cat.  After I felt like I could have another cat I got her another buddy, Smudge, who even though a lot younger, took to Bella as Scout had, becoming her protector and cuddle buddy. (I’ll tell you his story later).  In any case.  Bella has been by far one of the best cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning, and despite being an older cat she is still a bit feisty when the newbies or the dog need to be put in their place.

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Wild Life Lessons from a Reluctant Homesteader

I was raised in the suburbs where there was relatively little wildlife.  Our house backed up to the bayou so we did see some critters growing up.  Raccoons raiding the cat food bowl and snakes and turtles could be found on exploration of the bayou, an assortment of birds and squirrels, nothing too unusual.  When my husband and I purchased our little half acre of land that backed up to the woods I wasn’t quite prepared for all the wildlife encounters that we would have.

Lesson 1: Sadie vs the Skunk

Within a few months of bringing home a dog, we discovered our area harbored skunks. Our poor dog fell victim to an encounter one dark morning around 6am.  I learned that day that you should always keep Blue Dawn Dish Soap, Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide on hand if you live in the country.  After we layered the mixture on the dog by the evening she smelled tolerable enough to be let back in the house. I will say once you smell skunk up close and personal, skunk never smells the same ever again.

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Lesson 2: There will be Bugs

Since living on our homestead, I have to say I’ve learned a lot more about bugs than I ever wanted to know.  I never encountered such a large array of bugs as I have living on our little piece of country, near the city.  Centipedes, millipedes, beetles, stink bugs, velvet ants, carpenter ants, fire ants, grasshoppers, crickets, cicada’s, flies, praying mantis, worms, silverfish, grubs, mosquitos, ladybugs, bees, spiders, caterpillars, butterflies and a host of other bugs I can’t identify.  I’ve come to terms that for the most part the bugs are harmless.  I let them do their thing and as long as they don’t come in the house or touch me we live a relatively harmonious relationship.  If they do happen to venture inside or decide to land on me they will find they have put their little bug lives in peril.

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Lesson 3: Rapacious Reptiles

Bugs attract a host of other animals that’s diet consists of bugs, especially reptiles.  We’ve seen tons of lizards: Gecko’s, anoles, skinks (these are the ones that look like snakes because they have long bodies and tiny legs), I even spotted a huge salamander.  We see a variety of toads and frogs, including little green tree frogs and leopard frogs.  We’ve also seen a few of my least favorite of the reptiles. . . snakes.  We’ve had visits from one water mocassin and one copperhead and we also have a recurring visitor, a sizeable garter snake.  This one still freaks me out as he likes to make regular appearances, but I remind myself that he is one of the good guys and I stop thinking about making a run for the shovel when he surprises me, the poisonous variety are not as lucky.

Lesson 4: Rodents

When you live near untamed trees you are going to see the usual array of residence that make their homes there.  We have lots of squirrels scampering about and we have pesky moles burrowing holes through the yard.  There are also mice and rats that lurk in the woods nearby.  Luckily we don’t have a mouse or rat problem as the outside cats are avid hunters.  I have yet to see a live mouse or rat that wasn’t specifically brought into the yard by one of the cats and the poor little critters don’t usually last long once they are in the yard.  I’ve also learned from these rodents the appeal of squeaky toys to dogs, as when she discovers that cats have a new “toy” she also wants in on the playtime.

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Lesson 5: Do we have Bats or Birds?

The first year we moved into our house I kept hearing a squeaky sounding critter flying around outside.  I was convinced we had bats, and while we might have bats drifting about I have never encountered one.  Upon further inspection of the squeaky noise I figured out it was coming from Wood Ducks. These ducks nest in trees near water sources (we have a creek just down the road) and make it a habit of flying through our area on a regular basis.  Ducks in trees and balancing on power lines was a new experience for me, but I find myself looking for them whenever I hear the squeaky cries they make. Other birds I’ve seen and heard are cardinals, blue jay’s, doves, pigeons, crows, chimney swifts, woodpeckers, robins, warblers, vultures, hawks, owls, my favorite the hummingbirds, and a host of others that I am unsure of the genus.

Lesson 6: Bunnies, Opossums and Raccoons, Oh My!

While I’ve never seen Raccoons on our property, when we first moved in I frequently saw some huge ones in the neighbors backyard.  I wonder if our outside cats and crazy dog discourage the raccoons from taking up residence or if the family moved on to a different place of residence.  And while we don’t have a resident Opossum that I know about, we have had them make an appearance now and again.  They like to go after that cat food if there happen to be any remnants left in the bowls on the front porch and they take a lot of convincing (usually in the form of a broom) to get off the porch and go away.  My favorite resident who makes frequent appearances are the bunnies.  We must have some tasty grass because they are often make their dusk and dawn appearances despite the presence of the dog (who often fails to notice them until they are on the other side of the fence).

 

I’m sure there are many other untamed creatures we have yet to meet that reside nearby. (I’ve seen deer, armadillo’s and even a coyote while driving a few miles away from the house).  I try to not bother these critters too much as we have moved into their territory as much as they have moved into ours and for the most part I have learned that we can live in harmony amongst each other.  All the little lessons the wildlife teach me just reinforce the reason we moved to our little piece of property.  What better wonderland for a child than to be able to explore a backyard billowing with wildlife.