Saturday, February 16, 2019

rough winter

In all my years at the farmette (and granted, I've not lived here that long), I have not been forced to confront the reality of the natural world -- with all its beauty and pitfalls -- as much and as often as I have this winter. Maybe it's because these last months have been extremely cold. Or maybe it's sheer dumb luck -- somehow, for the most part, we felt that we had the upper hand here.

Humans have such hubris!

It is again cold. No Arctic blast, just plain old winter cold. We've been leaving the light bulb burning in the garage. The cats can get near it if they feel the need to warm up.

But despite the cold, the morning is lovely! Sunshine, that singular prettiness of a snow covered landscape -- it just makes you smile in total appreciation.

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There are again no cats in the garage. Eh, I'm getting used to this: they're roaming! I leave out a little dry food and remind Ed to keep an eye out for when they return. They'll want their real grub right away!

We eat breakfast. Leisurely. Things are looking good all around.

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And then I go off to meet up with my friend who is in town and happy to spend a long while reviewing life over a cup of coffee.

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On the drive home, I pass the lesser lake. Do we have a bunch of dedicated ice fisher people or what??

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I come into the farmhouse and ask after the cats.
Well, I'm not sure what's going on.

It turns out there's blood in the garage. And bits of fur. A feather, too.

There is no good explanation.

We must have had a visitor late last night (an owl?) or early this morning (a hawk?). Our best guess is that one kitten was taken away and the other ran away with the mom, Stop Sign.

That is a tough reality. Keeping the cats safe and well fed was something we took seriously. They had plenty of places to hide. How were they made vulnerable? Had this predator taunted them before? Is that why they left, then came back? So many questions now, ones without answers. Worse, they suggest a vulnerability that is still very much in play. We were to let the cheepers out in a few days. It seems now that whoever is keeping watch over the animals that live here would have ready food in them as well.

Ed asks -- Do you want to hand over the cheepers? We have a friend who raises chickens and would probably take our five girls. We don't want to keep them locked up in a coop year round. What's the point? They don't like it, we don't like it.

We do nothing for now. Processing this newest animal drama will take a bit of time. Ed reminds me that the life of a feral cat is usually very short. I can understand why: it's cold, food's tough to come by, cars are their enemy, and it looks like they're vulnerable to predators as well.

In the late afternoon, we go skiing. It's that or sit and watch the paths to see any sign of cats.

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On the way home, we pass the usual fields of corn, farms, rural homes.

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In one field, just short of a mile from the farmette, we pass three species of wildlife settling in for an evening feeding time: geese, deer, turkeys. There's a richness of life around us... with all the consequences that follow.

And in the evening, we go out. To our old favorite -- Brasserie V, where we huddle over mussels and fries...

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... feeling comfort in a familiar spot, hoping so much that our sweet kitties are good and safe somewhere in the vast expanse of our rural lands, but knowing that probably, they're not safe anymore.