Tuesday, February 19, 2019

a winter of animal worries and snowstorms

Have we finally finished with the winter stories from our modest farmette animal kingdom? I surely think so, as we wake up to yet another brilliantly sunny day. We are, I think, in a holding pattern: the chickens are safe for now (though their future is much under discussion here, at the farmhouse, as Ed does not want to pen them for good and we both agree that a release is asking for trouble). Stop Sign, our sort-of-feral cat is slowly climbing out of despondency and showing some interest in Whiskers, the perhaps-feral cat whom we encountered yesterday. We will see where all this will take us, but for now, we toddle along, cautiously, warily, but without terrible trepidation.

I look out and see many many tracks, in every direction, but I am not surprised. Most likely we had a herd of deer pass through in the light of last night's spectacular full moon.

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It's really more than just lovely outside -- there's an icy glitter on the delicate branches...

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.... especially visible and stunning on the two great willows.

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And to top it off, I'm beginning to hear the chatter of birds -- as if telling us they're ready for the return of spring. Soon, so very soon... (A spot of red on the old crab apple! See it?)

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Breakfast in sunshine. (A spot of red in Ed's hand!)

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And then I have a coffee date with my visiting friend.

I'm in a hurry. She is already waiting for me. As I walk to the car, I automatically throw a glance toward Stop Sign, who does love to sit on a cardboard shoe box positioned well to capture the sunshine. And what do I see? A kitten bounding to her, a teen-age kitten, a white socked kitten -- yes, it is none other than Dance!

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The reunion is spectacular! Dance is meowing, mom is meowing, they paw each other, sniffing, meowing, laughing I'm sure at this miracle.

And then Dance immediately goes to the food dish. Clearly she has not eaten for several days: she wolfs down every last morsel.

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We wont ever know her full story, but it is obvious now that we lost only Jacket, her brother, in the hawk/or-was-it-an-owl raid. (Which of course, makes more sense: we could not understand how a hawk could carry off two kittens.) Dance ran, only to find her way back, to reunite with her mother. And now there are these two.

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Don't ask where we go from here. There is much to review and consider. It's hard to imagine how we can successfully keep the young cat safe: close the garage door more fully? Coax them both into a better space? Can that even be done? What's a good outcome for them? There is much to think about and discuss.

In the meantime, I'm late for my meeting with my friend. She is understanding. Friends are good that way!

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And in the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop and I tell her that she is still shorter than the curbside snow pile.

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In one of our pretend plays, she fishes out books from an old stack. She vaguely remembers them. When I had read them way long ago, she had an "eh" reaction. Today, at the more mature age of four, she's delighted with the characters. She wants to play Madeline. The stage is set for a new game.

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Time to go home. I'm in a hurry. It's cold. I have a sweater, my warmest jacket, a cap and mitts. And still, I hurry her. I want to get in the car and turn on the heat. But she has a different body thermometer. Her story takes her to one of her favorite play stations -- by the "cliff string," which marks the spot beyond which you should not drive or park the car, or else you'll roll over "the cliff." Oh what stories follow! But Snowdrop, I'm cold, aren't you cold? No, gaga.

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Perhaps she has adapted to Wisconsin's extremes. It will put her in good stead: we're about to get pounded by another snowstorm tonight.

If you like quiet and dull winters, this one may leave you disappointed. But if you like snow, oh, is this one for you! We'll see what this next storm brings to the farmette.