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Posts Tagged ‘Cats’


Callie, too, says thank you for being a fan of AnimalsOurEVERYTHING!

I LAUNCHED MY BLOG a year ago this month.

Today’s post  was my 66th. During this year, AnimalsOurEVERYTHING! has enjoyed more than 4,000 views.

I’d like to say thanks to all of my followers, subscribers, visitors, blogging and writing colleagues for taking an interest in my blog. The animals and I are more than a little grateful. We wanted you to know.

Here’s to another year of learning from animals — the  best of  teachers.

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Couartesy of http://wordplay.hubpages.com/My critters  are at the top of my Christmas list. (Sorry friends and family, but they are both to me.)

And they’re so easy to gift – at little or no cost. Here are a few ideas for homemade cat, hound, horse, herd and  hen offerings.

Please use your own good judgment about the safety of offering these items to your particular pet(s).

  • EASY, COST-FREE, CATCH-IT-IF-YOU-CAN CAT TOY:  Cut a wire clothes hangar, and bend it straight into one longish piece.

Push one end of the wire into the middle of a cork – made of actual cork — from a wine bottle. Be sure the wire pushes tightly into the cork.

Tie some yarn or found feathers on the wire and around the cork. Voila: A lightweight, bouncy cat toy rises from recycled or repurposed items. Oh yes, you, the gifter, are part of the toy. You must make it swing and bob. This nifty little toy should entice even an “I’m too proud to play” feline to paw and pounce.

  • EASY, COST-FREE, TUG- OR CHASE-IT DOG TOY:  Find an old piece of fabric or a worn T-shirt. Be sure to choose fabric that won’t fray: If you don’t, the dislodged fibers may get lodged in your dog’s throat or belly.

Cut three strips about three feet long.

The width of the strips is somewhat dependent on the size and pull-power of your pooch. I make them about 4 inches wide for my Labs’ toys.

Bunch one end of the strips together, and tie a knot. Braid the three strips, making the weave super tight at every twist and turn. This makes the braid tighter and stronger and more apt to withstand dog-dog or dog-owner tugs of war. Tie off the other end with a square knot.

This is my Labs’ inside toy of choice. They tease each other into games of push-me-pull-me and keep-away that sometimes last for 20 minutes or more. We get to enjoy their sly gamesmanship.

  • LOW-COST, SWEET HORSE TREAT: What’s as sweet as a sugar cube and red and white all over? A friend of mine boards her horse at a stable where candy canes with horses’ names appear in tack rooms and on stall doors this time of year.

Break a cane into small, crumbly pieces and spread in the palm of your hand. Offer your flat, sweetened palm to your horse. Wait for the delicious slurping sounds made as the  candy is licked away. You’re apt to be rewarded with soft knickers and  nuzzles  as you’re searched for more.  Our steeds enjoy the sweet, mint flavor of candy canes as much as Santa does cookies and milk along about midnight Christmas Eve. Be sure you limit how much sugar you offer your pony.

  • LIGHT READING FOR PIGS:  If you happen to be a keeper of pigs, consider giving them a pick-me-up: Toss them a newspaper, minus Christmas and other ads on slick paper. A coverless phone book works, t00.

The papers aren’t for eating but for playing. A friend who raises pigs says they enjoy rooting through the news and tossing headlines every which way. It appears to be perfect pig play.

After the pigs have had their way with the pages, the newsprint is prey for hog hooves to return it to the soil. The pigs’ weight and walking-about start the newspapers on a journey to become part of the pasture.

  • FLOCK FULL OF FUN:  Safely hang a head of lettuce or cabbage from a chicken coop, fence post, or low-hanging tree. Place it at a height barely reachable by your feathered friends.

Be sure to secure it with something your chickens won’t want to  consume. Then sit back and watch them chicken-dance,  jump up and peck at it. You’ll find a resemblance to children (and adults) swinging comically at a birthday pinata.

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Growing-up Will at play. Size-wise, the twice-orphaned kitten has some catching up to do, but he’s 100 percent healthy, at peace when purring and a most enthusiastic play pouncer.

You may recall the orphaned black kitten that barn cat Lilly mothered for a short while along with her own three babies. (Included in May 15 post on this blog.) The nurturing that Lilly gave that kitten, found mewling in a nearby ditch, probably saved its life. His name came to be Will, because of his strong will to live.

After a few days as nursemaid, Lilly moved Will to a spot in the tack room far away from the rest of the litter. One of my riding pals, Ella Mae, found Will cold to the touch and barely breathing. She worked hard that afternoon and barn owner, Teresa, through the night, keeping  the little guy warm and trying to convince him to nurse from tiny bottles of special mother-cat-like milk.

Cat caregiver, Betty, holds tiny Will, the four-ounce kitten she nursed to health after he was abandoned by his mother, then his proxy mom.

Shortly after that long, worrisome night, Will fell into the good graces of a very competent and generous cat caregiver, Betty. She was experienced with rescue and near-hopeless situations like Will’s seemed at the time: He only weighed four ounces and had to be fed by tube at first. Betty soon had Will on the mend. After several weeks under her watch, tiny Will became stronger, and his larger-than-life personality began to surface.

Will is now at home with Ella Mae’s son, Alan.  Will is still small for his age, but all health

Will at eight weeks with his new favorite person, Alan, the son of one of his rescuers.

and behavior reports are good: Will follows Alan around like a puppy might, hides under the covers and is a perfect apartment-mate, said Ella Mae.

Ya gotta love a happy ending! Especially when a kitten twice left to die well, defies the odds and, lives. Thank you Betty, Ella Mae, Teresa and Alan for serving much as godparents would to little Will.

Lilly’s own kittens are prospering in their new homes, too.  I have a little egg on my face, however. I jumped to the conclusion that the three were sisters; at least two have turned out to be brothers. Oops!

Photos by Ella Mae Hays

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We’ve launched a series of seasonal greeting cards for animal lovers.

The inaugural set of four represents “summer,” because it is such an extra-special time in the country. It’s a blessing to see so many quickly growing newborn farm and wild animals — as well as crops — at every turn in the road. We thought you might enjoy sharing some of our memorable warm-weather moments with the animals.

Click on the “Free Offers for Animal Lovers”  link to the right, https://animalsoureverything.wordpress.com/greeting-cards/. Download and print a card(s), then send it to a friend.

We tend to think that in the swirl of email news and greetings we’ve grown accustomed to, finding a greeting card in the actual mailbox might just be a welcome surprise.

Thanks! And remember, all four cards are yours at no cost and without obligation.

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Kitten caught stealing at bank

Lilly's kittens last week. Maddie, on the left, stole the show at a bank. Her sisters, Kessa, on the right, and Raffie, hiding in the middle, are new hockey fans.

The tack room was silent and still yesterday. Barn cat Lilly, recovering from spay surgery, was sound asleep atop my saddle blanket. Her three kittens, whose antics kept us amused all spring, have gone to their new homes.

Maddie, the first to depart, went to a co-worker of the barn’s owner, Teresa. She kindly took the little darling to work with her on the big day. The plan was for Maddie to retire to the bank’s restroom and nap. Quite precocious, and a bit of a prima donna, Maddie quickly undid that plan.

As I hear it, Maddie instead spent most of her time atop the counter in the bank where the women work. Confident in her black-and-white cuddly cuteness, Maddie happily greeted the clientele. I’m betting every customer — even those wishing for larger account balances — left smiling: Maddie made them with her show-stealing manners.

Maddie’s two siblings are acclimating to their new digs on my friend Stacy’s farm. Stacy and her husband, Russell, have a Mastiff named Stella and a miniature pinscher (looks like a tiny version of a Doberman pinscher), named Max. At this juncture, little Max acts as though the kittens don’t warrant much of his attention. Large, but ever-shy, Stella is treading, well, cautiously.

These sister kittens are sure to hold their own: When playing at wrestling, the kittens throw each other to the mat in unrestrained smack downs. And now they have strong and symbolic hockey-related names. Russell is a loyal fan of the Vancouver hockey team, the Canucks. Since the kittens arrived on the day of a National Hockey League play-off game, Canuck roster  names seemed only appropriate. Kessa is named for center Ryan Kesler, and Raffie for left wing Raffi Torres. Go Girls and Go Canucks!

THE ANIMAL LESSON THIS WEEK relates to a 12-step slogan that Maddie and her sibs illustrate: “Have a good day — unless, of course, you’ve made other plans.”

Table and trough talk in brief.

Clever horse opening latch commonly used on stall doors. Photo source 123people.com

Horse unlatches stall and takes midnight walk down dark road. While breakfasting on roadside grass, horse is caught by good Samaritans. Owners, searching for AWOL mare, are located. They lead her the few uphill miles to home. (Bet they scolded her under their breath with each step.) Thankfully, no noisy logging trucks lumbered past on the narrow road. All ended well — with the stall door now latched and chained to prevent additional equine mischief-making.


The tale reminded me of my own horse’s great escape on a mid-winter night. As Teresa made her way to the barns for morning chores, the fog was so dense, she could barely see the toes of boots. Nearing the back barn, Teresa thought something moved. She strained to see through the fog: There in the barn doorway stood my horse, Callie, dozing.  I imagine it was similar to those movie  scenes where someone walks out of the mist after waking from a dream or arriving from another world. Callie’s stall door has a safety chain now as well. If these mares get any smarter, we may have to convert to deadbolt locks!

YouTube has plenty of videos of horses caught in the act of unlatching. Here’s one posted by sjristhedude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIQdFzN-XgQ&feature=related.

Red Angus bull. Photo source ansi-okstate.edu

The Boys in the Hood, our nickname for the red Angus bulls that spent a lonely bachelor winter in a down valley pasture, are blissful: The gate to the lush pasture full of red cows and calves stands open again.

All around, the rural landscape resembles a Christmastime map: stretches of green punctuated by red dots: The bulls’ this-year offspring calf-napping in the tall grass.

The Angus breed originated in Scotland. When four black Angus bulls were imported to America in 1873, the shorthorn and longhorn breeds were the norm. U.S. cattlemen referred to the bulls as freaks, because they were polled, or hornless. In time the black-colored Angus gained favor; however the red version, derived from a recessive gene, was frowned on. The red Angus did not attain breed status in the states until 1954.

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FRIDAY THE 13th — ALL WEEK

Our circle of friends and their animals has been filled with ups and downs this week.

The first sign of trouble appeared in “kitten-land” run by barn cat, Lilly. After a week of nursing a kitten foundling along with her three much-older kittens, she made it clear she was done with the tiny baby.

While feeding the horses one morning , our barn (and Lilly’s) owner, Teresa, noticed the baby was not with the others. Lilly had deposited the little guy in a dark, hard-to-reach corner. He was cold to the touch but alive. Teresa put the baby and Lilly on a warm blanket in a small dog crate, hoping all would be well. Later that morning, when Ella Mae, who boards her horse there, arrived, this was how she found things:

“All three older kittens were in the cage [crate], and the orphan was stretched out sleeping (I thought) near the front of the cage.  Lilly was up on your saddle blanket where I noticed her yesterday for the first time since her babies were born.

“We assume she has decided to wean away from so much nursing and has given up on the weaker orphan. When I checked, he was cold to touch and barely moving.  I tried to warm him and put a drop of water in his mouth.  He was so weak and about dead.  Teresa got special formula, came home and got him and took him back to the bank where she works. She had to go to a meeting, so her coworkers fed the kitten, which took a bit of doing at first.

“Tonight I talked to Teresa and the baby was on her chest. I could hear him mewing.  His body temp is back up: He’s warm and taking nourishment. Teresa named him today:  He will be known as “Will” due to his strong will to live.”

I know Lilly’s behavior is related to Mother Nature and survival of the fittest: It’s still hard not to be mad at her. I feel like revoking her privilege of sleeping on my saddle blankets; but of course I won’t. Thank you Teresa, your colleagues, and Ella Mae for letting this little black baby cat get under your skin and into your hearts!

LETTING GO IN HORSEDOM

At the ranch next door, (home of friends and horse trainers Carmen and Norm Bryant, see April 28, 2011 post], a 32-year-old champion Quarter Horse mare had to be put down. That’s a ripe old age in horse years. The cause was colic, a painful intestinal ailment that often claims older horses.

Norm Bryant cutting on Superstar Sierra. This champion mare was nicknamed Little Bunny. Photo courtesy of Norm and Carmen Bryant.

She was known around the place as Little Bunny: Her registered name was fancier, Superstar Sierra. Carmen and Norm cared for and showed both her sire, Docs Superstar Bar, and her dam, Sierra Bunny. Little Bunny was one of the first – and last remaining—offspring of this winning pair.  In fact, her father was quite the sensation four decades back.

In 1977, as agents for R.B. Pamlin Jr., Carmen and Norm orchestrated the purchase of the three-year-old Docs Superstar Bar for $30,000. The young stallion lived up to his name and sired dozens of champions. In 1981, the handsome stud sold for $800,000 – a very large price tag back then.

Bay-colored Little Bunny spent her entire life with Carmen and Norm, as a filly, show horse, brood mare and, most recently, a retired reminder of the good horses, horsemanship, faith and hard work that built their life as successful, well-respected and sought-after cutting horse trainers and breeders. Acknowledging how blessed they were to have had Little Bunny and her dam, Carmen said, “We often admired the class and beauty of those mares.”

I will miss seeing Little Bunny in the band of mares and geldings nibbling away in the green pastures alongside one of my riding paths. May she rest in peace.

HAPPIER ENDING

Mom Kiwi and her six born-today bearded collie pups. Congratulations Kiwi. Photo by Tish Pollock.

We have six brand new bearded collies bringing cuteness and cheer to our spot on the map. My friend Tish raises these special herding dogs (see Feb. 23, 2011 post): Her bitch Kiwi gave birth this morning.

Here’s what Tish said in a Facebook post, “Puppies are doing really well; two black boys, one brown boy, one brown girl and two fawn girls. All hit the ground strong and active, have had a great lunch, nice sleep, and enjoyed their first exposure to the warm blow dryer when Kiwi was dried after her bath. Kristen (a beardie fan/owner on hand to assist Tish if Kiwi needed widwifery help) has gone home, and we’re going to have another nap around here.”

THIS WEEK’S LESSON FROM THE ANIMALS: This, too, will pass. That’s a hard one to keep in mind; but a welcome ease rides its coattails.

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I was about five when Dad gave me my first pup, Shep. He was a McNab shepherd and born to work. Without any herding to do in the new suburbia of the 1950s, Shep became bored and destructive. Eventually, Dad found him a more suitable home on a sheep ranch. I was heartbroken, yet somehow understood it was best for Shep that way. Photo by Edgar Herring.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my father’s passing. He’s the one who started me on this animal-loving journey.  My first pup, a gift from him, was a McNab shepherd named Shep after my uncle’s childhood dog. I’m certain Dad also was the key to my lifelong fascination with horses.

The California farm where he and my uncle grew up during the Depression was small and diverse. My grandfather’s team of horses was key in working the ground and hauling crops of potatoes and apples to the packing sheds at the rail stop up the hill. Dad much preferred driving the hitch to milking the family cow or cleaning chicken houses. Earning the right to drive the team was a sort of rite of passage. It meant you were in charge. The horses and cargo were the driver’s responsibility.

One summer, Dad was instructed to with make a delivery to the packing house. His city cousin Jack, on his annual trip to see country kin, was along for the ride. Shep — the original one — trotted alongside.

Apparently Jack insisted on having a turn at driving and tried to grab the reins from Dad. I’ve never driven even a single-horse hitch, but I can see why interfering with control of the horse(s) would not be wise. Dad told Jack as much, but Jack would not be deterred. So Dad made his point with an elbow and a shove.

Dad didn’t intend for Jack to fall off the wagon. I picture Shep licking Jack’s wounds as Dad pulled up the team and climbed down to help. At dinner that night, Jack told my grandparents he wanted to cut his stay short and return home. He left by train the next day. That was Jack’s last summer at the ranch. Dad and Jack stayed close through the years: The wagon incident was never discussed.

I’ve always wondered what words passed between the two teen-agers standing on the dirt road after the fall. Shep must have dutifully stood by, wagging his tail low and slow as dogs do when they’re unsure. Whose side was he on? I like to think Shep sat between the cousins, like a mediator, since each had been wronged by the other.

Hoss was a pistol. A small Jack Russell terrier with a personality the size of a bison, he died April 15. Hoss was a pivotal piece

Hoss, a Jack Russell terrier, was a tether-ball playing, gopher-digging, cattle-herding dynamo. Photo by Mary Corning, Four Winds Resources.

in the lives of my horse trainer friends, Carmen and Norm.

For one thing, he was the self-appointed sheriff. He’d bark an alarm if the slightest thing looked amiss in their driveway or front pastures. He did not pretend to like giving up his usual armchair just because you wanted to take a seat there. He’d let you sit, then jump back up and burrow in beside you. If you happened to have a treat in your pocket, he knew. There was no resisting his earnest brown eyes.

Less begging and sudden weight loss were the first clues something was wrong. Turned out he was anemic, because his immune system was destroying red blood cells. Medication helped, and Hoss began eating home-cooked meals three or four times a day, begging shamelessly for more. He rallied and strutted his little-dog stuff for three more weeks. Hoss died at home, in the middle of the night, in the arms of those who adored him for nearly 14 years.

When I met him, Hoss was pretty much retired and a house dog. But he’d had his hey-day. Here are a few of Carmen’s  memories from back then. “In his younger days, Hoss was totally obsessed with tether balls and would have to be stopped before he dropped!  He would also roll balls (of all shapes and sizes) with his nose, at high speed all over the house, barns, or parking lot, until we could catch him and stop the action!  Other obsessions were chasing us through the house, or vice versa, playing tug of war, chasing cats/squirrels, and digging for gophers! He loved to help get the cows out of the arena, and they were actually afraid of him … thinking he must be an over-sized rat!”

Rest in peace Hoss and may you be nudging balls through the halls of Heaven 24/7.

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT TIME

Barn cat Lillie has a kitten litter — all girls and mostly black with hints of white on some toes and a tail tip. The email I received with the happy news indicated she’d had two kittens. By the time I got to the barn to ride later that day and peeked at them – there were three!

Later I noticed a note on the whiteboard we use to communicate news in and around the barn. It read, “Please keep the dogs out of the tack room. Lillie is in there with her babies, 2 (+1). Thanks.” I feel honored that she’s made a nursery out of the old fleece horse blanket I folded up for her behind my tack box.

PUTTING THE SQUEEZE ON BUCKEYE BABY 

The Buckeye hens I wrote about in my last post have done their part to keep their endangered breed alive and well. My friend Stacy reports two chicks peeking out from beneath the protective feathers of the three “moms” sharing nest duty in recent weeks. Here's one of them taking a tentative glance around the barn. Photo by Russell Shellington.

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