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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Not Enough Milk in the World ... wash away the taste of wormer.
Our vet says feral kittens need worming every two weeks at first. The wormer is flavored with banana to make it tasty. This baby votes "NO!"

Everyone is named: Motorboat, Bright Eyes and Ferrari.
This past week has been full of kitten firsts.

Tiny scalpel-claws have been trimmed to save our ragged, punctured cuticles. Desperate at feeding time, they flail their "arms" and clutch at the bottle and our fingers. There's only one bottle left. 'Boat and Ferrari started teething and 'Boat gnawed the nipple off their favorite bottle this morning.
Solid food, kitten crunchers soaked with water, have given all three something to chew on. They growl and smack as they seize the pieces, walk through the dish, and create messy mayhem. There's never enough food, even when their bellies are tight and round. An aftermath of Mom-cat's dissappearance, and two days without her milk.
They've discovered play. Wobbling on tip-toe, fur bristling, Bright Eyes charged her larger brothers for the first time. All fell down to gnaw upon ears, tails, legs or whatever was in reach. The jingle ball made for a short diversion, but a nap of several hours was needed to recharge before another feeding. The cycle repeated through the day.
Wally, their father, closely supervised their feedings at first. Apparently we're doing is as well as can be expected from humans. His shouted comments from his perch in the porch rafters have diminished, and he seems pleased with our efforts. The temperatures top 100 degrees daily, so we've moved the kittens inside for most of the day. Wally doesn't approve. When the kittens were outside in their carrier they answered his calls for Mama Halloween. Without them to meow back he's even more lonely.
The inside cat population is now up to six. The senior cat is not pleased with the teen-aged cats we adopted last month. The teens are not pleased with the new babies. When these three are fully mobile, I forsee the house in shambles. I can't imagine putting the little ones out after the hours of feeding and care. We employ "porch"cats to kill rodents here on the farm, but I think I've bonded with these babies and so has Art. I worry bout Wally being alone, too. I am the mother of all animals, just ask Art.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Letters of reference wanted

Howdy friends and neighbors. Helene has applied for a job with the Census Bureau. They are asking for multiple references letters and we are having some trouble finding folks. As the summer season is upon us many of Helene’s former colleagues in the education community are unavailable due to brewery and winery tours, secessions of scream therapy and enforced isolation in wilderness places while they commune with silence. If you could help us out we would be grateful. The following is my letter to give you an idea how to proceed.
Dear Sir,
It is my great honor to write a letter of recommendation for Helene Burnett. I first met Helene when she saved my life on my first trip to Africa. While ferrying a Grumman Agcat to a rubber plantation in the Congo the engine went out and I was forced to bail out.
As fate would have it the Clearing I came down next to was a Pygmy village. As I hung in my parachute harness the excited tribesmen gathered below me. It was clear my situation had only become worse as villagers began to show up with an assortment of blowguns, spears, machetes and several struggled in with a large iron pot. I thought all was lost when a cry went up I later learned translated to “Cool it! The teacher is coming!”
At that moment a hansom but stern looking woman, carrying a yard stick, walked into the village square. When she asked what was going on a babble broke out until she held her hand up for silence. She then asked the Chief and was told the God’s had delivered me for dinner!
Helene, who was on a combination mental health break and teacher exchange, told the Chief that was unacceptable. The menu for the night called for water buffalo stew and sweet potatoes. “And”, she added glairing at the group standing with their backs to the cooking pot in an attempt to hide it, “Had they not talked about eating people?!”
The Chief wailed they were tired of water buffalo, and added quickly that my plane had broken the jungle when it crashed!
Helene insisted the jungle would be fine and ask “What is this going to cost?”
This set off a frenzy of bargaining. In the end my freedom was purchased for a carton of unfiltered Camels and a pair of Yellow Latex dish washing gloves the Chief still wears to formal occasions.
In the years since I have come to know Helene as an able and resourceful companion, a loyal and loving friend and a tireless and competent team mate. I can not imagine a project or undertaking she would not be an asset to.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Orphan Kittens

Kitten Rescue

"Halloween" cat didn't come back. After two days we had to assume the tri-color striped female wouldn't be back. She left a litter of four kittens, eyes just squinting open. My husband and I have been kitten foster parents for over a week.

This was labor intensive at first. Kittens don't drink cow milk; the next best available choice was goat milk. No milking goats here, just a cranky mini buck goat. Off to the store for condensed goat-milk-in-a-can. The vet box we keep here at the farm had one pet nursing bottle which would do until Monday. Milk appeared every two hours, as the babies made up for missed feedings.

Then there were bugs - fleas and lice crawling through the babies' dirty coats. At the hottest part of the day I shampooed them with the baby shampoo. The shampoo Art went back to the store to get. After they were clean, we had to wipe on flea spray to kill the unwanted livestock. Fleas and lice weaken infant critters.

Monday (6/8) Art leaped into the truck went to the vet for KMR (kitten milk replacer) and an extra bottle. The goat's milk wasn't working out, digestively speaking.

Kitten bottoms must be wiped after each feeding until their elimination systems become automatic. Four bottoms every two hours. I'm so tired.

Wednesday was Writers Group, and the babies needed a sitter. Fortunately our son lives nearby and agreed to kitten sit. We packed bottles, KMR formula, paper towels, terry towels to wrap them in while feeding, and smaller towels for their nether regions. It brought me back to safaris to the sitter when Matt was a baby. Good thing he doesn't charge. Going to Writers involves a 120 mi. round trip, so we packed in as many errands as we could, then picked up the babies at midnight and drove home for the next feeding.

The runt died Friday. He felt so still, small, and cold as I stroked him, then wrapped him in the pink towel he nursed in. Death is not unexpected on the farm, but it still affects me.

The three"tiddens", as we call them, put themselves on a five to six hour schedule now. Screams and shreiks of delight echo on the porch when the bottles are presented. They purr and wriggle as they suck and smack on the nipple. Their tiny arms wave in the air, and their fuzzy ears pump as they nurse. It feels good to see them thriving.