When I got within striking distance of retirement, my wife and I started looking for a place out in the country where we could enjoy our animals without all of the restraints of the city. When you live in close quarters on a city lot, the next door neighbor's dog baying at the moon is quite bothersome. Out here in the country, the bark is actually a security alarm from a distance. And we have many animals, including canine, feline and equine as well as fowl, and each in his or her own way is quite special.
One of the most useful of all of our special animal friends, especially if you have horses, is the cat. In our case and because we have horses, we have a large number of barn cats who sleep in the barn rafters or outdoors under the stars. But though they sleep, they are always alerted by anything that moves. And in a situation where horses live and spill grain as they eat it, cats are the full time pest control operation. Without them rats and mice would take control in no time. They are also amazing at warding off a constant problem in this neck of the woods: snakes, including the occasional poisonous moccasin, pygmy rattler or copperhead. Snakes avoid them like the plague.
They enjoy their freedom, yet most of them eventually die an untimely death, occasionally to a snake but more likely to a coyote prowling out in the woods where they roam or perhaps a bite from a spider. And because of that, we usually have a Tom Cat and a Mama Kitty in waiting who are allowed to sexually mature. And the result is always the needed replacements, born right here where they will live and earn their keep, doing what cats like to do: rodent patrol.
The cat in the picture, which was taken some sixteen months ago, is the newest mother-to-be. Callie the Calico is a sweet and very smart little lady and when we noticed her starting to get rather rotund we knew that nature had taken its course. She's been hanging real close to the house and yesterday we decided it was time to bring her in so that she could have her kittens in safety and security. Using a large box, a door was cut into it and it was placed upside down on top of two old blankets and she settled right in. With some food and water just outside of the box and placement in a spare room where the dogs won't bother her, we're just in the final wait mode.
We don't know exactly when the event will come, but we know it will come at a time when we least expect it. The last time this happened, it was five o'clock on a Sunday morning and I thought I was dreaming. Different cat but same outcome. But regardless, when the kittens arrive, we'll admire them, handle them to get them used to us, and let the new Mama Callie be the good mother that we know she'll be. And she'll get her kittens ready to take their place on the patrol team as they grow up. It's all part of nature; the old die and the young grow up to replace them.
You see what I mean about rural life changing your outlook? I never thought about things like this in the city but, then again, I didn't take much time to smell the roses either. There sure was a lot of life missed that way. Now I'm just making up for it.
The joy of living in the country with animals; they go together like America and apple pie.