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Thursday, November 8, 2018

What is that now, Junior? Life number 6?

This time of year the cats are in and out of the house, up and down the stairs, looking for excitement. They smell cooler weather in the air and they are invigorated by it. As soon as you slide a door open they zip through it.
I commute to work before the sun rises so I don’t see the cats until dinner time. I can’t keep track of where they are until Tuesday, when I work from home, or the weekend. Last Tuesday Annie and I were in the storage room, sorting little girl clothes to give to a friend who lost her home and all her belongings in a fire. The cats like to go in there, because it holds all kinds of interesting smells. When we leave we have to make sure they are all out again.
I guess we missed one. Today is Sunday and I went into the storage room to look for a futon cover. Suddenly I hear a ‘meow’ and Junior pops his head up from where he is snoozing in the blankets on the baby cradle. He jumps down and flashes through my legs and out the door.
“Junior! What the heck? How long have you been in here??!”
I hope I left the door open Tuesday and the Farmer decided to close it sometime later in the week. Because I would really hate to think I locked my poor cat in the basement for five whole days without food, water or toilet.
I sniffed the air. Huh. No trace of cat urine. Bizarre. I know they are basically desert animals and don’t need a lot of water but can they also hold their bladders for five days? Poor Junior.
I know he was in there for a while, because when he popped out he watched the dog very closely as he ate his kibble.
“Your food is up here,” I said to the cat, patting the top of the bench. Junior leapt up and started chowing down. He was mighty hungry. I stroked the cat’s fur. This is the only time he will allow me to touch him – when he is eating. Normally he arches his back, pushing up into the hand that is petting him. This time he just concentrated on his food.
We have had squirrels in our attic so the Farmer has been up there, setting live traps. Mostly he is just feeding the cunning little rodents, who appreciate the snacks he leaves them. But when Junior was missing for a few days, I just assumed he had gone up the ladder and through the open door to the attic. We left it open for a few days. I guess we are lucky we didn’t get a squirrel or anything else in the house. Imagine waking up to a raccoon on your bed.
I guess that storage room is a lot more soundproof than we originally believed. Junior is a very vocal cat. He often sits in the doorway to my office, vocalizing about anything at all and nothing in particular. He was probably calling to us through the closed door, but we didn’t hear anything. Not even when we went downstairs to put Fergus to bed and every morning when we released him from his crate.
“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked Junior, who just pushed into the older cat, Sheila, on the couch, and let her wash his ears. “And you, Sammy. I thought I could depend on you!” Sammy is the cat who came and woke me when the house was on fire last year. You’d think he would let me know that his brother was locked in the basement. Who knows what he was thinking. Maybe less competition for the cat treats. Survival of the fittest and/or smartest and all that.
I left the baby gates up around the pool this winter so I don’t have to worry about any animals accidentally breaking through the ice. This has happened at least once in the past. It may have happened more than once, but the Farmer doesn’t like to tell me.
I never thought I would lose Junior by locking him up somewhere in the house. I’m horrified to think what would have happened to him if I hadn’t gone looking for a futon cover. I guess I’m going to have to do a roll call every night before bed to make sure all fuzzy little felines are present and accounted for.
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Lucy the Moose on the loose

Photo by Paulina Hrebacka, The Kemptville Advance
A moose wandered out of the Ferguson Forest Centre and out onto the highway on Friday the 12th of October. No one was hurt, thank goodness, and the moose was ushered out of town by police, without incident. She was spotted crossing County Road 18 at midnight and again on October 13th in a soybean field outside Oxford Mills. But she hasn’t been spotted since then, unless people have seen her and are just keeping it to themselves. It’s all quiet on the Western front where the Moose on the Loose is concerned.
It was a big deal, to see a moose up close and personal, in our neck of the woods. We don’t normally get them this far south unless you are in a heavily wooded area. So on the 13th when I saw the cars pulled over at the side of the road and people standing in the ditch, taking photos of the moose and attempting to call her over with their faux-moose mating calls, I decided I would like a word with her myself.
“You can come and live at our place,” I told her. I understand that moose can’t see really well. They rely a great deal on their hearing, for their survival, so it is probably their best sense. I just spoke to the moose in a regular voice and she turned to stare in my direction.
“We have 200 acres. Much of it is forest. We also have soybean, but I don’t recommend you tramp all over it or the Farmer will get ticked off. Stay on the edges of the field, like you are now. If you get thirsty, there’s the creek. And if the winter is particularly cold, you can find shelter in our barn. We don’t have any animals right now. It’s just the Farmer in there, with his sawmill. He’s milling his own wood for the cottage he is building…”
I realized I was speaking to a moose. And I thought the people doing the moose calls were weird.
But seriously, I hope she comes to live on our property. If she doesn’t head back up north out of loneliness, that is. I don’t imagine there are too many of her kind around here. I wonder if she gets along with deer? We have at least one complete family living in our forest. The buck has a huge rack. She might be impressed by that.
A female moose is called a cow. Maybe she would like to spend time in a herd of cattle. She has probably already passed through several head of cattle on her recent journey. If she finds a farmer who is a little nearsighted, she might even blend in enough to help herself to their hay.
We are only 3 farmer’s fields south of where the moose was last spotted. If she continues to follow the creek, she will find us. It’s quite possible that she already has. Fergus the Golden Retriever has been doing an awful lot of barking at night. Perhaps he senses she is out there, in the meadow, just beyond the stone fence.
Our neighbour has been working for months, turning his forest into hay fields. Soon the leaves will be off the trees and I will be able to see past the tree line into his property. With the forest gone, my view will likely be unobstructed for miles. Maybe I will be able to see right into the village.
If that moose wanders out into the open, I will be able to see her. It would be comforting to know that she is in a safe place, and not having too many encounters with humans and civilization. Bad things tend to happen when wildlife and humans mix.
My son-in-law christened the animal Lucy the Moose because she is on the loose. I’m sure she would like to keep it that way. Oh and I know what you are thinking – the Farmer is a hunter. No need to worry, though. He only hunts what he likes to eat and he has had moose before. It was not to his liking. I’ve had it before as well, and I’ve got to admit I’m not a fan. So Lucy is more than safe here, should she decide to wander over and stay.
When the snow comes we will be able to track her like we do the deer in the forest.
It’s always nice to know your property is being enjoyed to its fullest.
 Post script: Lucy has since been spotted on the north side of the Rideau, on Fairmile Road, munching from an apple tree. Apparently she can swim!