“Throwing down hay from the highest point of the south mow, I was drawn to the west corner by the tiniest of sounds. Nestled in a tiny bowl of hay, I found a litter of colorful kittens. I watched them stretch and yawn and remember why it is worth the hard work of farming just to live on a farm.”
— Kay Willette, 1959
As I go about my work here on the farm this morning, the autumnal backdrop makes all the chores worth doing.
The horses run in the pale sunlight, stopping only to roll once in awhile like kids at recess, then munch on the lush pasture a bit between the rodeo kicks and spins.
Squirrels are darting from tree to tree, and just a moment ago, one little red squirrel climbed atop the large picnic table in our backyard, stood on his haunches and just looked about for the longest time. He seemed to decide upon his next move, then practically flew up the old walnut tree. He stayed around for the longest time, entertaining me with his antics.
A gorgeous male bluebird lit on my favorite lawn chair, fluffing his feathers, scoping the lay of the land. He was soon joined by three other bluebirds, and after a time they all flew to the highest point of one of our very large trees near the house, singing from the rafters. What a joy these bluebirds have been since we have moved here.
For the first time this morning, I took my litter of tiny Yorkie puppies out in to the grass. Even though they have already been weaned, their petite mama was suddenly on high alert, and wishing to protect them from all the noises of nature, would barely allow them to move. This is Priscilla’s first litter and she watches her two little babies like a hawk.
When the one-pound puppies tried to explore in the carpet of grass, she rolled them over and licked their bellies and faces. This loving attention prompted complete cooperation, and exploration seemed a moot point. When I brought them back inside the house, Priscilla felt the need to bathe them with great determination.
The downside to living atop this secluded farm is the realization that there are coyotes much closer than I would like. One late summer night, as Cort and his buddies worked at cleaning the fish on the back porch which they had caught, a howl that would send chills up the spine of even the most callous of the macho crew broke across the fields. Cort heard a loud call from a cat and then there was silence.
He hadn’t mentioned this to me, and I spent the next several days wondering where Shadow, the lovely gray barn cat, might be hiding. Shadow was just a kitten when we moved here, and because he followed so closely on our heels when we were doing barn chores or yard clean-up, I tagged him with the name Shadow.
Never a pest, Shadow was just an incredibly nice addition to the cast of characters here. Gray with a blaze of white on his chest, Shadow was a great hunter and worth his weight in gold as a mouser in the barn.
Shadow is no more. It sickens me to realize that a good cat was out hunting when he became the hunted.
Like all things in life, I have learned that we must find a way to deal with the bad along with the good.