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Monday, December 5, 2016

The confident cats think they won

Before I tell you this week’s story, allow me to right a wrong. Sometimes when you have to edit for length, you leave out crucial parts. You don't always realize they are integral to the story until later. Like when three people tell you they are upset that you weren't more sympathetic towards the cows when their babies were taken to market. Oops. Here’s the thing. Most people who have been reading this column for years know that I have a deep concern and affection for all the animals on the farm. I like to be there when big things are happening like their babies are being taken away – because I can calm them. And feed them apples afterwards, like I did that day. But cows bawling for a time after separation from their young is just part of life on the farm. It also happens when one loses a calf. I talk to them, give them a rub if they will let me, and let them know I understand. I have been faulted for caring too deeply for the animals, giving them names and writing stories about them. I’m sorry if I upset some of you by ending my column with “Those cows bawled all night.” It was edited for length and I left the part out about the apples and consolation. Don’t worry – I am neither cold nor heartless and every animal on this farm is well cared for. Right down to the last ankle-pecking chicken.
This past week we had a houseguest while my daughter was in Costa Rica. Vitor the Great stayed with us once again and his presence filled the farmhouse, much to the cats’ chagrin. Vitor is a Rottweiler-Shepherd mix and he is a city dog. He is accustomed to being inside except for when his owner takes him for runs in the park beside their house, three times a day. On the farm, Vitor gets to run around the yard unsupervised. He doesn’t even consider wandering down the lane to freedom and won’t venture out of the range of light after dark. He can chase squirrels and terrorize cats to his heart’s content. Only he knows that he would never hurt them if he caught one – he has an older cat at home and just loves to wrestle with him every day. But my cats don’t know that, so they spent the twelve days he was here hiding under furniture. Every morning they scoped out the situation, peeking and sniffing around corners. If the coast was clear they would pussyfoot down the hall and up the stairs as fast as they could go, to take refuge under a bed or in an open closet for the day. Vitor occasionally would catch a glimpse of a passing tail and take off after them, digging his claws into the hardwood for traction. My floors will never be the same.
During the day as I did my writing assignments at the computer Vitor would bring one toy after another and place them at my feet. When all of his toys – the tug-of-war ropes, fetching balls, Frisbee and soccer ball were amassed, I would take a break and go outside with him for some exercise. He napped in his crate all afternoon and slept soundly all night. He is a very well-trained dog, but I didn’t realize how much energy he has when I watched him last because that was July and he was outside most of the time. These are all good things to consider and I remind the Farmer to think about that when he is campaigning for a new farm dog. A new golden retriever pup is a lot more work than our beloved geriatric Cody was for the last ten years of his 17-year life.
It didn’t take the cats long to reclaim their territory after Vitor went home. They were back up on the couch and tucked onto the kitchen chairs under the table just a few hours later. They are back to their old selves, confidently leaping onto my bed and padding into the kitchen to demand food. No more wild eyes and peering around corners. Once again they rule the roost. I wonder if they think they somehow forced Vitor out. Yessir, Sheila thinks, as she struts down the hall and sniffs the spot where Vitor’s crate once stood. I got rid of him and that’s that.
The next thing to invade their territory will be a Christmas tree.

Note: if you bought a copy of The Accidental Farmwife that contains a type-set error, please return it to your point of purchase and it will be replaced – or email me. 

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