When the Cats Come Home

So, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the cats. Mostly we’ve chattered about bookish things, but who doesn’t love cats? My cousin doesn’t.

Here we go. A couple weeks ago, my dear friend Lentil – that’s a cat, not a legume – went outside around lunchtime . . . and just didn’t come back. We searched, searched, searched until dark. I fell asleep to dreams of her that night. It was pretty rough, since she has never, ever disappeared like that.

The next day, nothing. We called her name, we triple-checked all her favorite spots. Nothing. And yet I had the strongest sense that she wasn’t dead. She felt so . . . close. As if I could reach out and stroke her soft, gray-striped fur and feel her lick my finger.

Evening closed in. I was in the kitchen when I heard my dad say her name as though he saw her. Then came what we all longed to hear – Lentil was outside in the flower bed. 🙂

Sure enough, she’d found her way home to us. She came inside, hungry and a little flustered – as well as flabbergasted that Sam, the new stray kitten, was still here. Really?

Lentil’s back to her normal routine. Best we can tell, she either got lost, or was trapped somewhere. But our family – even with the addition of Sam – was disjointed for those roughly thirty hours. Like Mom said as we grinned ear-to-ear after Lentil came back, “Our family’s back together again.”

And just think – my dad used to hate cats!

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Lentil asleep on the windowsill.
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Highlights and Goals – August 2017

Here it ’tis! August! The garden harvest is in full swing, as we are picking beans on a daily basis and the corn is just ’round the corner. But I’m squeezing in time for a tad neglected blog – *wince* – and guess what? This blog is getting a makeover sometime in the month of August. Fun! Who doesn’t like a little housecleaning? Good for the soul.

Anyhow, let’s get on with it and look at a few highlights from July. Can’t believe she’s gone, can you?

JULY HIGHLIGHTS

Gardening . . . Gardening . . . More gardening . . . Need I say more?

Yes, of course I have to say more, it was a whole thirty-one days.

Okay, so July thirty-first marked one-year-to-the-date since I was baptized at our local church. What a wonderful memory! I’ll never forget how I felt God standing beside me that day. 🙂

In July, I also kicked off the second draft of my WIP, so that was agonizing exciting.

AUGUST GOALS

  • Get some substantial work done on the second draft
  • Update Musings of a Goat Herdess, because it’s been forever!
  • Write for Faithwriters
  • Read and garden . . .
  • Garden and read . . .  (not at the same time)

Oh, and how could I forget! You remember our first cat, Lentil, who we rescued as a young feral kitten and tamed? I told her story on this blog, and now please wish her a happy birthday – she’s ONE YEAR OLD!!! Super exciting to see how amazingly well she’s done. And . . . one more thing . . .

I haven’t announced this yet on the blog, but here it is. Say hello to our newest stray cat family member, Sam, Lentil’s half brother, whom we trapped and have begun to gentle. He is adorable. Just sayin’. I’ll get his story onto a blog post one of these days. Get ready to squeal over his picture – he is adorable. Just sayin’.

And that about concludes this highlights and goals post. Let’s chat! I want to hear what you’re up to this lovely summer. (And don’t forget to leave Lentil a happy birthday, please. Thank you.) 🙂

Once Upon a Kitten Part 2

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Every watchful.

It was a beautiful Easter day here in Maine – temperatures flirting with eighty in some places and just the right amount of cloud cover over our homestead to keep the heat from becoming too much. Best of all, we were able to get together to enjoy the day with friends and family, to cement in our hearts the power and meaning of Easter.

Anyway, we’re back with Once Upon a Kitten! Part 2 will pick up where 1 left you all hanging in utter suspense. What shall it be? What awaits those three MIA stay cats who have vanished in the coldest days of winter? Well, here you go. I won’t keep you hanging.

December 19th . . .

I seem to recall a sort of fog that morning. A dusty curtain of clouds to shroud the dawn. It was when we looked out onto the driveway that we saw her, a thin, bedraggled kitten coming towards the greenhouses. Her focus was set in determination, as though her purpose in returning to us a week and a half after the disappearance could not be thwarted.

We were in shock. Days of temps pummeled well below zero, tempest winds reaching the level of ferocity, not a bit of our cat-food offerings touched . . .  We had given up hope, assumed their lives had been snuffed out. But here Lentil was.

(Side note: If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, please go back and do so, or you will not have any idea what I’m talking about or who this Lentil is. Thank you.)

She hid in the greenhouse/winter-firewood-storage-house for the first hour or so while we set up a have-a-heart trap with cooked chicken inside and some regular cat food outside the trap simply in an effort to nourish her. She looked so scared, her eyes wide, her pitiful meows of hunger coming from behind the firewood where she hid from us.

We watched from inside the house as she spent the morning in refusal to eat, seeking only the snow, which she licked relentlessly while wandering the space between the two greenhouses where she, Yarrow and Ali had lived, had played, had slept. At times she would simply lie down upon the snow above the same place she had once huddled with her family. We were heartbroken.

And then she returned to the greenhouse . . . and entered our trap. And just like that, Lentil entered our lives in a whole new way. After my father had spent the last several years taking a stand that we would never own a cat . . . well, those three strays had earned a special place in his heart. He had no misgivings about saving Lentil. 🙂

The frightened little creature fled into one of our upstairs rooms and hid behind two boxes. There, she remained. We quickly realized she was coming out at night, as her food was clearly nibbled at. Over the next weeks, I worked to gain her trust. Holding out bits of cooked meat, talking with her, reading to her.

This effort paid off. I’ll never forget the milestone moments. There was the day she first took food from my fingers as I reached into her hiding place. The day she first came out to eat from her dish despite my presence. The first time I succeeded to pet her. The first time she climbed upon my lap and licked my fingers. The day she followed me downstairs and later to sleep on my bed – that lasted all of one night, thanks to her waking me up by tirelessly licking my arm and nibbling my hand.

Long before that point, Yarrow, too, returned. To this day, we feed her in front of the house. She has become a good deal more trusting, even so far as to hide in the bushes while we set out her food, and then come out as soon as we’ve left. Sadly, it was Ali, dear, sweet, gentle Ali, that we lost in that mysterious vanishing of the three so many months ago.

Still, Lentil and Yarrow’s survival is a miracle. Our best assumption of that week and a half in December, is that the three of them were trapped in our neighbor’s barn, among the bales of hay. No food. No water. Maybe it is true what they say of cats’ nine lives. Or maybe it was just God’s way of giving us a little gift, of taking care of the sparrows . . . or cats, as the case may be.

Lentil sleeps on the carpet as I write this post, curled up in a slice of sunlight that peeks through the window. We have begun to allow her passage to the outdoors now, due to her noisy insistence. While this poses a good deal of risks, I believe it has made us all the more grateful for and inspired by her incredible – and true – story of survival.

God has told us through His Word that His eye is on the sparrows. Whether it is on a bird or a helpless cat, it is comforting to me to see firsthand the truth of that scripture. I hope her story inspires you, too! We all have seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our journeys. But God is really good at those.

He took care of and continues to watch out for our dear little Lentil and by His mercy does the same for us. I know He is watching out for you too.

Blessings and happy trails! More to come on stray cats . . . some day. I have a particular fondness for them now. 🙂 Meantime, I’ll be back to blogging about writing, reading, writing and . . . well, writing, of course.

Once Upon a Kitten Part 1 – a Stray’s Story of Survival

Today, I’m taking a little break from the regular writing posts to share with you a true story which, in many ways, is still unfolding. If you’ve come across my Pinterest boards at all, you may have noticed one entitled Kats & Kids. This one divulges some of my love for goats and for our dear little friends, the stray cats. Up until about nine months ago, I had little concern for those particular creatures . . . and that was when three of them showed up on our doorstep.

It was a sultry day in either late June or early July when we saw her. A fluffy stray cat we had seen numerous times around the farm, but never so close. Now she lay just outside our back door, panting heavily, her large stomach heaving with each breath. We were worried. This was the first time we saw how clearly she was pregnant.

We named this frightened, aloof little animal Yarrow.

For days and even weeks at a time, we saw nothing of the stray. She came and she went, sometimes appearing with a mouse ensnared, other times crossing our neighbor’s field in the dusty fog of dawn.

It was August now. Yarrow’s stomach had noticeably decreased in its swollen size, but we knew not where she had placed her kittens or if any were alive. We again saw her coming across our back pasture with another mouse. While we quietly marveled at how many of those she seemed to find, we watched her. Yarrow, oblivious to the audience she had, took purposeful strides across the yard, across the driveway, to our newest greenhouse, which, at that time, was not in use.

We continued to watch like hawks from our living room window. As she went round the back corner of the greenhouse, we saw them. Two tiny kittens rushed out to greet her.

Needless to say, we were thrilled. And though it was expected she had at one time cared for more than just two, we were grateful these had survived. One was a petite, baby-faced calico we lovingly named Ali. The other, a rugged, shy little gray we floundered for a proper name for until my mother found the perfect one. Lentil.

As the weeks passed, days grew shorter, harvest came in from the gardens, our spirits were reliably lifted by the presence of the three homeless felines. We had begun feeding them back in August, which, we surmised, was why Yarrow, so alert and timid, kept her kittens so near to our home. In spite of her wild ways, she trusted us just enough.

That trust, however, was short lived. She began taking Lentil and Ali to our neighbor’s barn. More than once, we would lose track of them for days and be unable to feed them. These disappearances left us worried indeed.

But every time, they came back. And Ali became more and more accustomed to us, more and more trusting. There was one day Yarrow took Lentil, the far more reserved and wild of the two kittens, back to the neighbor’s barn, while Ali remained at the greenhouse the entire day, patiently waiting for her family’s return.

And then the cold weather hit. We were terrified. We knew we could trap the kittens and tame them, but Yarrow? Yarrow was wild. She could never adapt to a home.

And then they disappeared. And did not return.

For a week and a half, through the fiercest drop in temperatures we would endure for the rest of the winter, they were lost to us. We set out food both in the barn and greenhouse. We called them by name. We searched. We searched again. There were no voices to respond. No tracks. No one to nibble the food.

There was snow on the ground. The frigidity did not relent. We were devastated to think those dear little animals had been lost so cruelly.

December 19th . . .

 

 

The rest of their story will be told in Part 2, and also in the Little Red Barn Series, a children’s series my mother and I plan to co-write together in the next year or so, but that’s a post for another day!

And I’ll be back blogging on the Monday after Easter. Part 2 of this story will continue next week. In spite of the way it may look now, there is a happy ending. One that continues to inspire us to this day, and I hope you’re inspired as well! Don’t miss Part 2.

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Yarrow’s tracks in the snow.