Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nothing Tougher than a Barn Cat!

I am very pleased to report that even with the temperature at -3 this morning, the animals of Harrison Farm are all doing fantastic!  On my many trips to the barn today, my devoted companions have been my awesome barn cats: Mask & Peppermint.  Even with the snow, these two cats are almost always running around my feet while I do chores.

Peppermint is originally from Jorgensen Farms.  He was one of the infamous litter of Jorgensen Farms kittens that are now grown up.  His siblings Basil, Lovage, Sage, and Girl Thyme are still at the farm in New Albany, but Peppermint became a problem there and needed a new home.  He was the most anti-social of the litter, and could not be caught by a human.  This was a huge problem -- as the cats have a very special Kitty Cottage at Jorgensen Farms where they go during events.  I volunteered to give him a home, and he has flourished at Harrison Farm.  Peppermint often hangs out on my back porch, and waits for me to head to the barn.  It is hard for me to believe that this cat that once hated humans now follows me around the farm like a dog!

Mask is my original barn cat, and was born at Harrison Farm.  She is incredibly loving to humans, but detests other cats.  Even though Mask & Peppermint look like they could be siblings, she absolutely cannot stand him.  This seems to encourage Peppermint to try harder to get her to play -- usually resulting in Mask slapping him across the face.  Mask is about ten years old now, and she is a fantastic mouser.  She is also tough as can be: I have nursed her back twice from injuries, and she continues to be the Grand Dame of the Barn.

In contrast to these two wonderful barn cats is my house cat, Cash Cat.  Cash does spend time both inside the house and outside.  During this cold snap, however, he seems content to stay in the house.  Cash is quite intimidated by both Mask and Peppermint, but likes to go outside despite this triangle of feline animosity.  Cash came into my life when he was a tiny kitten.  He barely had his eyes open when I found him . . . in the mouth of my beloved Pyrenees dog Sheba!  He was not hurt; Sheba was just carrying him around like a toy.  At that time, Cash was so small that he barely had his eyes open.  I fed him kibble softened in milk at first, and he rapidly grew into a little Tasmanian Devil (no joke: that is how he is known at the vet clinic).  Cash -- the Cat in Black -- is a wonderful companion, and keeps the back porch clear of mice.

It intrigues me that cats adapt so well to their surroundings.  Mask & Peppermint are very content outside even in cold weather.  I have tried previously to bring Mask onto the back porch in the winter, and she resists this heartily.  I can only compare it to the way humans also acclimate to different temperatures: I recall visiting my father in Florida during wintertime as a child, and when the temperature would fall into the 50s, I would be wearing a sweater while the Floridians would be bundled up in heavy coats . . . And visitors from parts of Canada would still be in shorts on the beach!  

My barn cats, just like my livestock, have plenty of water & extra food in the cold winter months.  They know where the comfortable spots are in the barn to bed down at night, in order to stay warm.  They are alert & healthy, and they earn their keep by being good hunters.  Animals have different needs in this manner: many dog breeds must spend as much time as possible inside a house during cold temperatures, others (like Pyrenees dogs) are very comfortable outside in colder temperatures.  Likewise, my goats & sheep grow winter coats of cashmere & wool that help them to stay comfortable in the winter.  I am an advocate for providing the best care possible for each specific type of animal, recognizing that they have unique needs!

1 comment:

  1. You have cute cats. For all the talk about acclimating, it must only work for some people. This is my second winter in OH and I'm still freezing!