----label me a 9.5. ~~~~ O.K.- a 10.
We made an early decision that we were best with house cats...our Shawnee & McCoy, now 14 years old, in the basket below. We could control their where-abouts, we set their pace. Same goes with goats, once we figured out appropriate fencing, we generally know that they are safe and sound. Fencing & the occasional shots fired into the air to scare off marauding coyote, and we were good to go. I had my animals, and assured their controlled safety. As long as I treated them humanely and with love, they rewarded me with their trust & loyalty. It was this easy, straight paved road. Few unexpected turns, all quite neat & tidy.
In our decision, anytime a stray cat came calling, we diverted all eye contact, never fed them and occasionally moved them on to the next farm with the wave of a broom. Outdoor cats were beyond my control, they would mess with my sanity. It just would not happen on my watch, I knew my limits far too well.
But it happened, in the blink of an eye this homeless, scared, timid cat arrived one winter. And she stayed. She began to teach this old soul to take chances, to risk losing control, to let go. It has been hard....yet for every cat we have buried behind the barn, a new kitten arrives to fill the hole left in my heart. Chippewa, Pumpkin, Shadow, Marmalade, Cinnamon, Summer are gone. August is at the vet as I write this....hit by a car, a broken pelvic bone. We will see in the morning what her chances are for coming home.
Yet, for every worry I hold.....I know their lives are free. They run, climb, hunt...and return home to their barn. They sleep on our porch or on old feather mattresses in the barn, have a heater to keep them warm in the winter, and end their day with a shared can of food in vintage dishes. I believe they are safe in the barn when I close the door at night, but know that I am just fooling myself. There are risks out there.
So I have to now work at counting the cats that have found their way into my barn. One leaves, one arrives. Their road is not neat or tidy....but it is theirs. I'll take my chance on barn cats....look them right in the eye, open the barn door and roll out my heart. There are far worse vices to have.
Saturday, May 18: Addendum....August came home from the Osseo Augusta Vet Clinic this afternoon. Her road to recovery is long, they said it was the worst break of the pelvic bone they had seen. We will keep her contained for about 6 weeks for the bones to heal on their own. We have pain med., special food and antibiotics to help her along. We have made a "hospital room" out of a lawn mower box. I keep thinking how she pulled herself to the safety of the outhouse we have in our orchard, that is where I found her. Such courage! It also amazes me that she purred, from the moment I found her, she has purred. I bet my money on that little girl kitten.