Three Cats About

March 28th, 2010

Spotty, our big white and black cat, is becoming quite the little beast.   She’s nice enough around feeding time, but she’s really territorial and tries to boss the other cats around.   She pushes them, growls at them, bumps them out of the way to get their food (even though she has her own), and generally wanders around strutting her generous girth outside of the house.  

“How did she get this way?” I’m thinking.  But it’s just her nature…   The gray Princess, our other outside cat, is sweet yet indifferent for the most part.  And even though Spotty tries to push her around, she’s the “alpha cat” and only tolerates it to a point and then pounces on the younger (but fatter) cat.   

It’s interesting that while Princess is an expert hunter, the big Spotty cat couldn’t catch her tail if it was laying right in front of her!    Apparently she can climb however, and I was surprised to see her on top of the grape arbor.

We also have a (mostly) indoor cat named Tootsie.  Shes a tortoiseshell, and we adopted her on a camping trip from a humane society booth at a craft fair.  She is the most lovable, attention seeking critter I’ve ever known.   It can almost be annoying, but she just likes to be around people (and the yellow lab) and is very careful with her claws.  She’s playful, and fearless for the most part.  

She does love to go outside, but stays very close when we’re out.  If she loses sight, she gives a plaintive yowl or cry until she finds us.  Unfortunately, that big Spotty cat just tries to pounce on her and runs her all around.   I’m waiting for them to come to terms with each other’s presence.  I’ve noticed less pushiness since it’s warming up now, and maybe the cats will figure out their pecking order soon.  I haven’t seen Tootsie hunt or catch anything, but she seems to be really quick with great instincts.  That’s our cat menagerie…  And yes, they’re all spayed!  I think three is quite enough for now :)

Time Flies, and Swallows Too

June 19th, 2009

Whew! It’s been so hot the last couple of days that you walk around with a wet shirt on from sweating so much.  It was time to cut the grass again, take care of some poison ivy around the forest edges and a host of other good stuff.  One advantage of keeping the grass cut is that it seems to reduce the tick and chigger population around the house.  Or as the young one calls ’em, “chicks and tiggers!” 

As the sun rose this morning, the light filtered through the trees- lighting up a patch of day lilies on the property line.  They lilies have not opened yet for the day, but I really like their bright orange coloration.  Next to the day lily patch a few white stones are stacked up to mark Sparky’s grave. 


When I was out early this morning the air was cool, and the scene above just stood out in the light.  It looked nice so I captured a quick shot. After I was looking through the pictures, I was amazed to realize that exactly a year ago this week we put Sparky down at the vet,  after a coyote or a fox nearly killed him, (or well, mortally wounded him).

Sparky was a one-of-a-kind cat that we all loved, more like a dog really, and one of those animals you always remember.  He would jump into my lap while I was on the tractor, and follow me around while I worked.  The young boy would carry him everywhere and Sparky gladly went along.  He didn’t hunt much of anything, but had a good life, happy and carefree, and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else but outside.  He used to love playing on the pond ice in winter- one time racing all around chasing a little chunk.  Another time he actually fell into the pond!

We buried him under the oak tree above, next to the day lilies.  If you ever wanted to see a picture of a cat walking side-by-side with a dog, here’s your chance! 

I wrote a little remembrance of Sparky in Ode to a Cat


The long awaited day for the barn swallows has arrived as they have begun leaving the nest.  This year I was amazed to see five fledgling barn swallows in the little mud nest above the garage light.  How do they all fit in there?!  Once the first one leaves, the rest all follow within 24 hours or so.  I took this photo last night, and this morning there are only three in the nest.


Oddly, I have never actually seen a fledgling barn swallow leave the nest.  One of those mysteries of life- perhaps the adults have some type of call or something that induces the young birds to leave, maybe very early in the morning?  The birds probably make sure no animals or people are around.  Still, I’d love to see one fly for the first time.

A New Day, and a Tiger On His Tail

October 8th, 2008

Sometimes the world seems so small, especially when fog blankets the landscape.  At dawn we see the glow of light, and the sun rises, becoming brighter through the gray curtain of cloud.   On days like this the world awakens more slowly, or at least we may feel a closer, measured pace to the presence of life around us.   What does the sunrise represent?  Hope?  A new day, or a new future?

Sunrise through the fog in Missouri

Does it hold meaning for you?  I once read a story that framed the context of challenge by saying,  “In America we get up in the morning, we go to work and we solve our problems.”   And that’s pretty much a testament to action.  So often it’s that first step that is the most difficult.  But as we begin, as we move and as we take steps towards our goals, we are moving every aspect of our lives toward that new day.  With our action, opportunities will come, doors will open and circumstances will gradually shift toward our goals.  We don’t have to solve everything at once, but as we begin everything changes.   And we’ll get there.

Speaking of action, it seems the kitten and the yellow lab have become playmates.  The lab doesn’t quite know what to make of this little ball of energy.  The kitten romps and pounces, darts in and out and generally uses the retriever’s tail as a chew toy.  Instead of a “tiger by the tail,” this dog has a tiger on his tail.

 Kitten playing with Yellow Labrador Retriever

The kitten chomps and wrestles until the lab puts a big ‘ole paw on top of him.  Then a little  “reeoow!” screech and the cat darts away again.  We watch them closely, but he is amazingly restrained to the needle sharp teeth and claws of the kitten.  It will be interesting to see their relationship as they grow older.   When I imagine friendship between dogs and cats, I think of Sparky, no longer with us, as he walked with Justin.

Flutterby in July

July 27th, 2008

We’re on the way to mid-summer and after all the rain it’s so nice and green!  And hot! And humid!  Ah, but with all the growing things we have lots of butterflies around.  Sometimes I don’t see them and wonder where they are, and then I’ll start noticing them everywhere.   That intentional thought thing perhaps. 

Have you ever been interested in a particular kind of car, and then for the next 3-4 days you see them everywhere?! 

And I saw a fox yesterday for the first time this year.  They’re always around, but we don’t see them often.  I didn’t have the camera, but the fox was running along the dam toward the woods.  I thought, “What’s Kuma doing down at the dam?  Wait… that’s not Kuma, that’s a fox!”  It quickly disappeared into the woods.   If you like dogs, you can read about our indefatigable Kuma here.  He really does look like a fox!

Speaking of foxes, our cat Princess has always been wary, but even more so it seems since Sparky left us last month.   We’re not sure, but he may have encountered a fox or coyote one night.  He still made it home amazingly enough, but something bit into his hind quarters.  He spent almost a week with a veterinarian, but in the end he couldn’t be helped.   There are lots of predators about, which indicates a healthy biodiversity in the area.  But sometimes it’s a little too close to home.  And yes, we let cats run around outside most of the time.  It’s a rural lifestyle, and the cats love to be outside. They also help keep mice and moles away. 

Of course the only predators I see chasing butteflies is the yellow lab.  Sometimes he’ll see one on the ground, stalk it slowly and then lunge at it.  He doesn’t catch them, but has a goofy look on his face that seems to imply it’s just for fun. 

One of our more common butterflies is the Giant Swallowtail.  These guys are fast but don’t seem to mind letting you get a good look at them.  

Giant Swallowtail butterfly

Now I’m not trying to make this “the insect blog” or anything, it’s just that there are so many around right now!  It’s not too difficult to get a picture of a butterfly on the ground, but to catch one in flight was another story. 

This guy was more like a “flutterby” as he danced around quickly in circles.  I probably took 30 pictures to get this one in focus.  I wonder if there are any aerodynamic lessons to learn from butterflies? 

Giant Swallowtail butterfly in July

I know that throughout the world butterfly “souvenirs” can be found in many cities.  Which is not necessarily a good thing, especially if some of the species are threatened due to habitat loss or overcollection.  But some of the collections for sale are amazing in the diversity of species and colors.  Collecting insects is generally a fine hobby and quite educational.  I remember taking an entomology class years ago and amassed quite the collection of creepy crawlies.  Not sure what happened to it, but that’s probably a good thing!

And if you’ve read this far, it’s well past time to say thank you for visiting.  I appreciate if you have time for a comment, but if you’re just passing by, that’s okay too.   Sometimes blogging can be discouraging when it seems like one is “writing into the wind” so to speak.  But as Ron has found, there are many wonderful “lurkers” out there… good people that stop by for reasons we may never know or understand.  I’m glad Ron’s back at it…   I don’t know how long I’ll continue to write or share pictures, but hopefully we’ll continue the journey for a good while.

We’re off on a traveling adventure this week and I may or may not get a chance to post.  There are so many other wonderful blogs out there and I’m really amazed and humbled with the stories and relationships that blogging fosters.   And yes!  Next week we’ll be posting the Festival of the Trees.  See you soon.

Ode to a Cat

June 26th, 2008

We found you in a pile of unwanted kittens,
And brought two of you to our home.

 Sparky the cat when young

You brought us love and joy,
And a bundle of cat energy that
Wanted as much to explore as
To be cuddled in a lap.

Sparky exploring

You were spirited and fun,
With a personality so full of life.
Sometimes you seemed more like a dog.

Basset Hound and Cat walking together

And you didn’t hunt very well,
But you jumped at birds in a half-hearted manner,
Flicking your tail,
As if to show that, Indeed! You were a Cat.

Sparky the cat

Yet to a boy you brought so much more;
A big fuzzy kitty that he could
Drape over his shoulders,
To carry and hug and play with.

Child and Sparky the cat

And you didn’t mind.
He loved you most of all. 

Farewell Sparky

Farewell Sparky.

Surprise on the Porch

March 25th, 2008

There are always surprises in spring.  You wouldn’t expect one of them to be a snake in the house!  It seems one of the plant containers kept outside in the summer served as a nice little home for a Ring-necked Snake.  We noticed something near the carpet and thought it was a toy left out… but then it started moving!  These are harmless little guys, and quite docile- probably a Prairie Ring-necked Snake.  Of course it doesn’t generate near the excitement of the six foot Black snake I saw last year!  This week we’ll release it outside to find a new home.

Ring-necked Snake in the house

Someone enjoys giving the cats a lot of attention, and that’s okay with Princess.

Princess the cat

Raking the Garden, but Snow Coming!

January 31st, 2008

The other day we went from 70 degrees F down to 15 degrees in a matter of hours.  I was out working in a t-shirt, raking compost on the garden, and then the temperature begain dropping.  We even had snow for a few hours… and tonight we should receive 6-8 inches.  Looks like a snow day for the kids tomorrow!   But that touch of warm weather for a couple days was really nice.

 Sparky the cat loves to wander around while we work outside.  As I raked the mulch in the garden he “meowed” for attention…

Sparky the cat surveys the garden from the fence

In the morning it felt like spring, but by evening the snow began.  The garden will have to wait…

Rows of mulch in the garden before a snowfall



Can I Borrow an Extra Hour or Two?

November 26th, 2007

     A nice weekend and the season marches forward.  I’m a little under the water (not weather!) this week as I work to complete finals, projects, etc. for grad school.   Lots of little things always seem to come up… the dogs got into the trash the other day (all over the driveway), the Lab ate one of my $10 dollar bills laying around (I taped 6 little pieces back together and took it to the bank!), kid’s partys’ coming up at school, a birthday in the family, the car won’t start, etc, etc.  But we have our health, food on the table, and a warm fire!  All I need now is a little more time each day. :)  I wonder- is it just the season and end-of-the-year catching up?  Think I need to register a car, pay taxes, more bills coming due….  next year I swear I’m going to really  get organized.  Oh… that’s coming sooner than I thought- somebody told me Santa’s coming in a few weeks!  

Sparky the cat has been glaring at me recently… I think he’s protesting all the pictures of the Yellow Lab and wants a little more attention!

Sparky the Cat

Laundry Cats and Turtles

June 30th, 2007

A little more rain today, and generally cloudy. It was nice and cool- a pleasant change to early summer.  Tomorrow is July! Where the time goes I always wonder.  I was cutting the grass today, much without thinking- and realized it is days like this I truly enjoy.  When the temperature is 65-70 degrees F, one hardly notices the weather. 

I came in the house yesterday and found the cats snuggled in the laundry basket.  So they posed for a picture… they are siblings, although it doesn’t look like it. We have not let them out in a couple weeks while the “Princess'” leg is healed.  She doesn’t seem to mind, and hobbles about.  She did get out once, and when clattering down the driveway… freedom!  But we caught up with her, and back she went until her leg heals.  The cast will stay on her leg for up to 6 weeks according to the Vet.  But they sure do cry and “meow” to be let outside…

The cats snuggle in the laundry basket

 This morning I was looking at the pond and noticed two pond turtles on the surface. One was larger than the other, and they were about 15 feet apart.  If they are the same species, then the large one is a female.  But the little one swam quickly toward the larger, and they met briefly with a little splash, and then separated… I never saw that before.  They floated for a minute, and then sank into the depths.  I caught a picture of them when they met each other… I wonder what they were up to!

Two turtles meet in the water with a little splash what are they up to?


Afternoon in the Country

May 31st, 2007

The days have varied lately between warm and humid and cooler with rain.  I’ve planted grass seed in bare spots to take advantage of the spring rain.  If it grows without washing away I’ll be surprised, but it has a good start.  The animals love to wander among the grass and trees, and the pond has completed its spring “turnover.”  Previously the pond had a greenish coloration with algae growing with the sunlight.  Now it is becoming very clear and you can see the fish swimming in the shallows.  I’ll try to get a better picture this week to show the water clarity.  These pictures were taken last week before the turnover had completed. Thus far the algae has not been growing very much, and I think the Koi and Grass Carp are helping.  As the days grow hotter we may see more algae, but so far so good. 

The cats run and play wherever we seem to be, and the dogs playfully chase them.  In this picture Sparky ran to a large Oak tree and climbed half way up.  He hung briefly on the tree before dropping to the ground.  The cats love chasing butterflies and birds it seems, but I don’t know about mice or moles.  I would prefer the latter, but they sure enjoy being outdoors during the day.  I have found if we only feed them a little in the morning, then by evening they are more than ready to come indoors for the night, waiting patiently in the garage to be let in for dinner.  When it rains, we don’t let them outside as much, or we would have muddy tracks all over the laundry room.  But they meow and cry to be let outside… they love prowling around the house and garden.  Sparky follows me around half the day while working, and sleeps in the barn during the day when it’s warmer.

 Sparky climbs an oak tree

The pond is a quiet getaway under the shade and light of the afternoon sun.

The pond is a quiet refuge in the afternoon sun

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