Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kansas is not flat!

What is a draw?That is what my friend asked me the other day as we were talking about where she lived in Alabama compared to where I lived out here on the prairie of Kansas. I tried to explain that there are actual undulations of varying degrees and some parts of the roads go down into a deep draw and then come back up out of it. She was completely baffled by this "draw" concept.

Out here on the prairie we understand the subtle change of the lay of the land. We understand that you can hide behind the top of a hill or ridge when hunting, and see the animals before they can see you. We also have learned that 80 million years ago, give or take a few years, this whole area was covered by an inland sea and so just like the oceans of today, there are deep canyons, sloping areas that lead to winding valleys, draws as we call them here. Maybe there once was a creek bed that flowed through, the trees growing along that winding line would argue for that idea. Sometimes there is a shear drop off, like the edge of a cliff where there are rocky outcroppings.

Obviously as you look at the pictures, there are definite changes in the lay of the land. It is just not as drastic as say, the Grand Canyon. There are places for animals to hide, live, survive and much of that is because of the cover and protection that these "draws" offer. To watch the deer navigate a steep upslope that would leave you and me rolling to the bottom is simply amazing.

So next time you drive across the state of Kansas, please don't dismiss us as flat. Look a little more closely and see that as you can see for miles and miles, there are undulations that rise and fall across the horizon and sometimes, there is a downright deep canyon or DRAW that you dip down into and then drive out of as you travel along. Obviously along the interstate you don't see that as much, but if you are lucky enough to travel Highway 40 or 36 or 50 and get the joy of the 2-lane highway you will appreciate what the prairie has laid before your eyes to behold. If you are lucky enough as you scan the length of a draw, you might just see a few deer or even antelope, the occasional coyote, but definitely you will find cows grazing. So enjoy it and remember some of us call this home and love this land.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A cat lounge built for fun!

This used to be a computer area but after tearing out the built in desk and the wood laminate flooring, and painting the walls the same color as the rest of the living room it has been transformed into the cat lounge. 

There are shelves to jump to and from.

There is a cat tree that has seen hours of fun in various locations around the house, and multitudes of cat naps.

The ladder is a new source of fun discovered just a few years ago when the cats would climb the human ladder to help with the work up high.  The cats go up fast but down slow.  It is easier to jump from someplace.

A splash of color on the walls.

Snoopy and the Peanuts gang keeping watch from the walls.

A blast from the past, the cats leopard tube they played IN as kittens, now it is an extra scratching post and paw massager.

They don't mind the OSB floor, they puked on it already.

The area is even equipped with a water fountain (back center on the floor).

How much fun can you have with a new rug?

LOADS!!!  First Nino attacked it and dove under.  The Shuey dove under, chasing out Nino and then Sien-Zu attacked from above.

This rug is now Cat scanned and approved for the cat lounge by the Hurricane boys!

"Look Mom, we even straightened out the rug after we gave it the cat scan test.  We like it."
Several of the other cats have actually found it quite comfy for laying on top of just curled up for a nice nap in the middle of the floor.  Honey was there earlier tonight.  Tassi is now there with Sien-Zu back in the tube which has rolled over onto the rug.  I think it is a keeper!

Meet the cats of the farm

BOOTS - The first house cat; born July 2003.

Boots is the only cat on the farm who is not related to any other cat on the farm.  She was the original house cat that moved in with the house when the house arrived in October 2003.  She was a psycho kitty!  We found an old mirror and put it up against the wall.  She walked up to that and FREAKED OUT!!!  Her favorite toy as a kitten was a mouse on a bungee cord.  We went through at least 6 of these.  Each one would be attached to the ceiling between the kitchen and dining room.  She would jump up and grab the mouse, take off with it in the direction of the living room, get to the end of the bungee maximum stretch and it would launch back across the room and into the kitchen.  One time she landed that mouse right in a pot of boiling spaghetti.  After that we were more careful where we attached the mouse.  After she broke the bungee, that mouse would go everywhere with her.  In the mornings we would find mouse sleeping in her food dish.

 ANGEL - Litter mate with Honey and the late Garfield; born June 2003.

Angel is the littlest cat on the farm.  She spends most of her time hiding from the other cats behind the TV (left) but has been found napping in a very relaxed stance on the short love seat (below) or curled up on the big couch with others on the back of the couch.   She spends the Winter inside but likes to go out for a breath of fresh air quite often, no matter how cold it is.  She will come back to the French Doors and glare at you until you let her inside. 
Angel is the most timid of all the cats and will be the last cat to warm up to anyone.  Even though she has been on the farm since she was 8 weeks old, she is still scared of my parents and will hide from them at every opportunity.

May 2005 - She had a litter of kittens 1 week after her sister Honey, 6 of them.  They all found new homes but she was a very good mama cat.  She worried me that she would hide the kittens so she was moved into the house for the birth event and was happy to have a sheltered box.  She and the kittens moved outside for the summer when the kittens were old enough to be weaned.  It was a magical time watching them chase fireflies and bugs.  Any afternoon momma Angel and her litter of kittens would be found stretched out and relaxing on the deck

HONEY - Better known as Honey-cat; litter mate with Angel and the late Garfield; born June 2003.

Honey-cat is the momma cat to the remaining cats you are about to meet.  When she and Angel (and Garfield) were still kittens they lived out in a shed.  They learned about the farm and following me around by example.  Every day I would let them out of the shed and we would walk around the farm yard.  They would find a good warm spot up around the house to lay and enjoy the day.  At night, they went back to their shed after another perimeter security check.  It was this way through the first winter on the farm.  After that, they were allowed to stay outside where they had access to the cat shed, their food and water, and the deck.  The only rule they had to follow was morning and evening roll call.  One night I was calling for checking in.  Garfield and Angel had already come to the deck to say "hello" but not Honey-cat.  Finally I hear a muffled meow heading towards me from the field NE of the house.  When Honey finally got to the deck meowing her "here I am mom" she had a full grown rabbit in her mouth and proceeded to present it me as a prize.

May 5, 2005 - The first litter of kittens is discovered.  Honey had them in the cat shed.  I was so excited!!  I took her out a box and some sheets to put them in as they did not have much in the shed.  She was happy to put them in the box and seemed to be fine with me checking in on them frequently.  A few days later she moved them and all I knew is they were under the house somewhere.  Honey had a sneaky way of going under the house and showing up in the ventilation system, usually in the cold air vent in Alex's room so much that we

kept a cordless drill handy to let her out of the vent.  So for the next month I knew the kittens were in the subfloor somewhere but could not figure out where.  I went on a vacation to California, Angel had her group in the house already because she was not allowed outside after that move by Honey.  I get home and went into the bathroom and could hear meowing.  Of course, Honey was able to come and go from her group so I knew they were healthy and alive.  The meowing came from my shower.  I called dad and had him and mom come over to help me.  Alex got Honey cat in the house so she could help with the kittens.  We started to take apart the wall around the shower and found a huge hole around the drain and there they were; 5 adorable kittens I had not seen since they were not quite a week old.  Once again I was so excited.  We brought Honey-cat to help coax the kittens out and soon we had a Tassi, Chevy, Miss Kitty, Tucci and Sunday.  Sunday was adopted later in the summer.  Tassi and Tucci went to Denver to my then boyfriend, Jim, and Chevy and Miss Kitty stayed here.  I tried to adopt out Miss Kitty but no takers so she remains here. 

Later in the summer, when I was going to get Honey fixed, we found out she was pregnant again and to far along to abort so we had another litter of kittens.  This time she was confined to the house during her pregnancy and set up in the bedroom and master bathroom with me for the birthing.  As Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, we had our own excitement here on the farm - 8 kittens showed up, starting at about 6 a.m. with a YOWL from my bed, waking me.  I took Honey to her birthing box and let her take care of things from there.  There were 2 runts of the litter, Napoleon and Nino.  Napoleon did not live a week.  Nino was questionable and I refused to loose another kitten.  (See his story below.)

Honey is still my security detail around the farm whenever I go outside.  She also likes to do at least the night time to make sure the perimeter is secure and to make sure there is nothing stirring like a mouse or a rabbit.


Born May 5, 2005 - Tassajara, Miss Kitty & Chevy.  (Tucci passed away a few years ago from a stone blocking his urinary tract).

TASSAJARA - Tassi-cat.

 Tassi spent the first 3 years of her life living with her brother Tucci in Denver with Jim.  One summer she escaped from the apartment and was missing for 2 weeks.  She finally showed back up at the apartment a little skiddish, but healthy and wiser.  Tassi lost her brother and best friend about a year after they moved back to the farm.  Since then Tassi has been kind of moody, doesn't like to play tag and chase with the other cats.  She is content to have her space in the bedroom, separate from the rest of the group much of the time. 

Tassi likes to hang out behind the fireplace where she can feel safe and be warm (left).  She has also been known to curl up on the small orange couch or even stretch out in front of the fire (above).

When Tassi first moved to the farm we were not sure about her being outside after her previous summer but eventually she gave it a try.  At first it was hard to find her and get her to come back inside.  Now she is happy to make a mad dash to the door when she is called to come in.

Tassi was the star of an earlier post called Invasion of the Orange Spider ring.

A side note: 

Everyone has had to come in at night.  We have had some issues of coyotes, a barn owl lives down in the CRP draw and could hunt cats; and then there was the time that Shuey showed up with puncture wounds on his backside, possibly from a large hawk or owl.  There is also the issue of the highway being close and the fact that both Nemo and Garfield were killed out on the highway, both found by me and buried by me - those were 2 of my worst days!

Miss Kitty - The odd cat out that I tried to get adopted until she was 3 years old.

Miss Kitty doesn't have much of a story.  She always has to be curled up beside me when I am working at the computer, usually right where I want to step when I go to get up for something.  She likes to spend time outside when the weather is warmer and is content sleeping in the cat shed at night.  Whenever I call for check-in, that is where she comes from.  She is not a security detail cat but is content to be right next to me.  Her other favorite spot to sleep is in a basket on the bottom shelf.  She is one of the cats that picks on Angel and so Angel rarely is anywhere near her.

CHEVY- The only long-haired cat in 19 kittens born on the farm in the Summer of 2005.  He is a character, thus the many pictures.

 Some cats are called cave dwellers, some are bush dwellers and some are tree dwellers.  Chevy is a little of each.  He resembled the pure breed of Maine Coon cat with all the necessary markings.  He lacks the tolerance for cold and wind - he actually hates the wind.  He is one of the largest cats in the house, weighing in at 16 pounds.  His name was earned because even as a fluff-ball kitten he purred so loudly it sounded like he had a Chevy-357 engine humming that little body; thus the name Chevy.

Chevy can be found sleeping anywhere, in any position and usually it is enough to crack us up.  If there is a box - Chevy owns it.  If there is an open container (above) it is his for the duration of the nap.  He likes to hide in the wood box (right) and when he is outside he is up on the roof of the house or laying in the sun shade between the upper and lower decks. 

His mannerisms are completely hilarious.  He sleeps in the craziest positions (pictured below).  As I write this post he is asleep on a stack of cardboard covering the tire fort which is 2 tires stacked on top of each other waiting to get put on my car.  I think I will get the old tires and add them to the lounge because that fort is one great thing!
 Chevy in the chair that no longer lives at this house.  He is happy stretched out just about anywhere.

Sometimes he just flops on the cool tile or hard laminate (see below)

A rare picture, he is awake, sitting up and actually looks like a normal cat.  Fluffy and with a tail 2x longer than normal.

The boys of Hurricane Katrina - Shuey, Sien-Zu and Nino

SHUEY - The chaser, the instigator, the bully!

With his signature innocent look, it is almost like he is saying "who me?".  Shuey was the biggest little boy of the all male litter and likely was the first born on that fateful day in August 2005.  He was adopted by my nephew, Ronan (see previous post about the Egyptian project) but he lives here on the farm at my house.  He is constantly chasing his brothers around the house, on the roof - sounds like a herd of elephants.  He plays in the cat lounge (see related story) and is always the first to greet anyone.  He will let you know if the bottom of the food bowls are showing, because if that happens he is starving to death for sure.  He also weighs about 16 pounds.

Shuey and Sien-Zu are the 2nd and 3rd all white kittens we got out of that 19 that summer.  Tassi was the first one.  So when it came time to pick out names for the 2 little white boys we went to the Siamese twin section on and then decided to go with Chinese words for snow and fairy.  Somehow we managed to come up with the names above. 

SIEN-ZU - Zee for short

Sien-Zu is a little ninja cat.  He is quiet but always seems to be up on the frig, up in the cat tree, up on the half wall in the kitchen, up on the counters, up where he does not belong.  He also likes to hide.  He will curl up inside the cat tube.  Then as soon as that is over, he stretches out in front of the fireplace. 

Sien-Zu is my little TV watcher.  He likes the Animal Planet channel the best but if something catches his eye he will sit and watch the TV for quite some time.  He has never tried to bat at the images on the TV but he sure watches intently.  When a commercial comes on, he looks away as if he is very uninterested in what they are selling.

There he goes, into the tube, pulls his tail in and now he is all settled in for a nice nap.

NINO - my little man, bottle fed by me so he would live and grow up big and strong

Nino started out as the 2nd runt of the all male litter.  After the true runt passed away quietly, I vowed not to lose another kitten.  So Nino became my kindred spirit.  He is my shadow when I am home.  He is my first line of purr therapy when I am sick or sad.  He is my little shadow when we are outside working, always checking on me and accompanying me as I walk around.  He talks to me quite extensively and lets me know he is coming when it is time to come inside, as long as he is in ear shot.  When I come home or back across the yard from mom and dad's house, and he is outside, he runs to greet me and tells me all about whatever it was that I missed while I was away or not with him.  He has his favorite hiding spots which include some of the cat carriers.  That is where he is secure and able to nap without trouble from his brothers.  When we all nap on the couch, Nino is right there laying on me, next to me, at my feet, where ever he can be near me.  When he is on the back of the couch, his paw is right on my shoulder almost like he lets me know he is there and if I need him he is there.

Those are the cats on the farm.  They are mousers, rabbit hunters, bird getters and generally good for comic relief at any given moment.  I hope you enjoyed meeting each and every one of them.  There will be more stories coming staring many of them.  Stay tuned.