Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

When it rains, it pours: the other cat story

Well, you know how that goes...your cruisin' along in life, cat free...

Then the next thing you know, it's pouring cats and cats! That's what happened to us! We were happily cat free, in the middle of moving, and had plenty to do everyday already. Then, to unwind after a busy day, we decided to go for a bike ride. Ohhh boy!

We pulled our bikes into my Grandmother's driveway. She greeted us like always, coming out the front door and giving us warm hellos and giggles. As we got off our bikes, she told us she had something to show us around back. So we walked along the path beside the garage, out to the stunning gardens in the back. You see, she had a lovely daylily garden back there, so she spent a lot of time there. Now with Gramps gone, she was getting pretty lonely in her weeding and pruning. Since a garden tour was mandatory in every visit, we thought nothing of her request. We thought she was going to show us a blossom of something, like always!

She walked us to the back corner of her yard, and down this little woodland path she had created years earlier. What? A wildflower blooming now? No! Look!!! As we approached the end of the path, four little kittens were leaping about and chasing each other. Suddenly they saw us and POOF! They were all gone, with leaves swaying quietly just where they had been. "Gram! You don't like kittens!" I proclaimed! "Well, they've been keeping me company this fall, and I thought they were really cute...especially the white one! Just thought you'd want to see them!"

I was shocked! My Grandmother didn't have much use for cats. Gramps had trapped them out of their garden for years. How is it that this little litter, especially this little white one, made her change her mind? This seemed so out of character for her...but then I realized how these feral kittens gave her something to look forward to; someone to see; someone to talk to everyday. Then I knew... these little kittens were special! They were bringing delight to a newly opened heart. As soon as this realization washed over me, I realized something else...winter was coming!

"How long have they been around?" I asked. She said just a couple of weeks. Humm....

Then she filled me in. The mother kitty had been around all summer, watching her weed, with very quiet eyes. She was a good mouser, and seemed to enjoy just hanging around the garden. Then one day, Gram noticed the kitty looked like she was going to have babies. So she started asking the neighbors who owned the kitty. The neighbors said she used to be someone's pet, but some boys in the neighborhood had abused her, and now no one could catch her. She lived on her own. Then one day, she was gone. Gram had figured she had given birth to her kittens. For over a week, Gram had worried about that kitty...wondering if everything was ok. We later found out, the momma kitty had given birth to the kittens in a tree trunk right at the edge of that woodland path in Gram's garden. As the kittens grew old enough, slowly Gram would see the kittens come out of the tree trunk and climb around, chasing one another. There were four of them, she said. And the little white one was her favorite.

Hummm...boys; abuse; winter coming; feral cats; roads....this was not adding up for me. As my mind began pondering how to solve this problem, my DH began turning pale. "We're on our bikes!" he protestingly reminded me!!!

Ok, ok...let's all breathe deeply! As we(I) pondered what to do next, the kittens leaped out, flew up in the air, and disappeared once again, with leaves softly swaying with their disappearance. Upon protests and giggles, I asked Gram for a box. I've never seen her move so quickly! I think she was relieved deep down that I would help the kittens! (If you know me, you are totally, totally cracking up right now!!)

When she returned with the box, I ordered my pale DH and family into the back know...just in case the kittens are mean or scared! They went, giggling and protesting something about bikes all the way, with a faint "Good luck, MOM" in there somewhere....

In a few moments, I had hid myself near the tree trunk and hunkered down like a silent hunter. As the kittens checked it out, they decided it was safe and came back out to play. I swiftly scooped up two of the kittens right away! I ran off to the back porch and placed them in the box, under guard. Then I ran back for the other two. That took awhile! I got one pretty quick, but I was certain there was one more. When I spotted him, I grabbed him and pulled him up to me. It frightened him so much, we BOTH got suddenly wet! EWWWWWWW!!!!! Sigh.....

So after all the kittens were in the box, DH rode his bike the short distance home to get our vehicle. When he arrived back by us, we loaded up the rest of our bikes, and our little box of kittens (!) and off we went....straight to my Mother's garage!

Since we were in the middle of moving, we were in temporary quarters! So shock of all shocks, my mother gave us space in her garage for the kittens! (If you know me, you are really, totally cracking up right now!) There the kittens were fed milk replacer and given room to safely play. At risk, they all had to wear bells so we could find them if they got out. We suddenly became the most popular house in the neighborhood!

This little kitten was named "Goldilocks" by a little girl. Later, that changed to "Goldie". :) He is the one that made us both wet back on that little garden path! Turned out, he is a real sweet, loving kitty with excellent mousing capabilities!
This is little Snowflake (also named by a little girl!). "Snowy" was also an exceptional mouser and also very affectionate, but not as much of a clown as Goldie. The other two kittens were adopted out so I didn't put pictures up. We named them 'Lil Pumpkin and Mixie. We loved them all! As they were fed and given time to adapt to us, they stopped hissing and began playing. We set up a dreamy play area with things to hide in, climb on, and soft, cushy places to sleep. As they got used to people, the neighborhood kids were allowed to hold them and play with them. They got gentle rides in doll carriages and were passed around a lot. They seemed to drink it all up and not mind! It was a fun time, but boy! That was A LOT of work!!!

Today, Goldie and Snowflake live on our farm. The day the barn door had been opened and all those feral cats swarmed in the aisle, I turned green with "WHAT am I gonna do now?" After MUCH hard work, and tender loving care, it all worked out. Soon our "boys" had the farm to themselves and everything fell into place, with little Sophie in the house. Both boys were fixed in a timely way so they stayed loving brothers. They are very close and stay together all day, everyday. They chase each other, eat together, watch out for each other, and stay warm together.
Goldie has become the farm clown. He loves climbing this weedy acer maple tree next to the chicken coop; a tree we left there just for him. He loves purring and doing somersaults up there! He adores rides on stall doors, hanging upside down off the coop roof, and skidding his paws around a corner in the barn at dinner time each night.
Snowflake has excellent conformation, with a broomstick straight topline, sitting nice and square on his legs....oooops! He's not a sheep! Anyway....Snowy loves the front porch, and spends many days up there, sniffing the breeze. He loves spying on his brother, sleeping on the highest haystack he can find, and also skidding his paws in the barn. Both love to follow us on our farm walks...falling behind and racing ahead, falling behind and racing ahead...
Our vet collectively dubbed them "The Cupcakes". It stuck. They are together always. They are very loving and social. They are very kid safe and don't mind baby bonnets. They follow me everywhere, especially when I'm working in the garden. They stalk each other, chase around, roll in the dirt, and chew on my herbs. They are such a delight to have...I can see why they penetrated my Grandmother's heart all those years ago! With her house and stunning garden gone now, and her health failing, she still asks about that little white one......"Don't worry Gram..." I tell her, "...he's still safe with me..."

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! Once again another wonderful story about your cats. I was especially touched by your Grandma's kindness and concern for the little kitties. I'm glad the "cupcakes" have had such good lives. I'm hoping my two old girls (15 and 11) will be with us awhile yet. Ken and Mary of Fancyfibers Farm