Monday, September 20, 2010
Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty
Every barn should have a cat.
This would be really good if I could turn it into a poem, but I've got nothing.
Back to the cat.
We have a cat.
The problem with having a barn cat is getting it to stay in your barn. Unless they are born in your barn, which thank goodness we haven't had that problem, it can be hard to make them stick around. Therefore, you have to intercede and help this project along.
For us, we got our cat and his older friend about a year and a half ago. It was a few weeks after we brought home our baby chicks. The baby chicks had been living in the garage under lights and our watchful supervision. It was messy at times, but it was the only way to keep them safe. This was due to the fact that I bought them without my husband's knowledge and before I had built a chicken coup.
I know, I know, I have heard it all before. There were some hands thrown in the air, and some words exchanged, and the, "Why? Why?" of it all before he agreed that they could stay. Well, the two kittens were a rescue situation, and after the incident with the chicks, I knew he was not going to be thrilled.
1. He is allergic to cats.
2. He thinks they are evil.
I don't have allergies, but I can imagine the two points would have to be linked to one another.
Back to the story.
To encourage the kittens to live here and not run away, I locked them in my hay barn. They were both extremely wild and immediately disappeared into the hay bales. Twice a day I would venture out into the hay barn and call, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." Then I would open a can of Fancy Feast, make sure they had water and leave. For the first week I wasn't really sure what I was feeding, I just knew that whenever I went to check on them, the bowl would be empty. About the second week, I would see four little eyes peaking out at me from behind the hay. In my mind they were saying, "Hey, look! It's the lady again. Look! She has some more of that really good food."
Slowly they started coming out, but in no way were we able to get close enough to touch them.
Then, things really started heating up. I mean figuratively and literally. It was getting warmer outside. I had chickens that were not cute little chicks anymore stinking up my garage and making a mess. I had two kittens that were going to have to get out of the barn. It was just too hot to keep the doors closed all of the time, and it was just me, myself and I...
While I was not going to admit that I had gotten in over my head, I was certain that someone was giving me just enough rope to hang myself. Always up for the challenge and adventure, I went to work. I started building my chicken coup in a corner of my hay barn. This meant that the doors had to be open, and the kittens were starting to venture out a little. It didn't take long until one of the kittens disappeared. It was the older one, and I guess he just thought he was too wild to be tamed with Fancy Feast. The little guy on the other hand, wasn't going to give up on a good thing. Each day I would see more and more of him.
Now you have to understand that I have never built a chicken coup before. Or, really anything else for that matter. I have helped on more than my fair share of remodel projects, but never any solo work. It would be fair to say that I know just enough to be dangerous. You also should know that my labor force was out of town, and it was getting hotter. I spent the first day cleaning out my area. I spent the next day cutting, hammering, nailing, and almost killing myself.
Public Service Announcement: Remove things from the top of the ladder before you move it. I can't tell you how many times I hit myself on the head moving the ladder. It may be a hammer or a tape measure, but it all hurts just the same. You can get a concussion, or worse, knock yourself out. Always check the top of the ladder before moving it.
Now I have to give credit where credit is due. Even though I bought chickens without his knowledge, and had brought home two allergy-inducing kittens and locked them in the hay barn, My husband, after a long day at work, came out and checked on me. He didn't do all of the things that he could have done. He could have laughed. He could have said, "I told you so." He could have just went inside and left me in my mess. Instead he looked at what I had done. Then he listened to me explain the areas that were giving me problems, rolled up his sleeves and gave me a hand. I love it when he does that.
Finally the thing was done. The chicks were moved out of the garage and into the coup. The kitten, while still wild, was living in the hay barn and still loving his Fancy Feast. He was fascinated by the chicks - there were a dozen of them - but he was also a little scared of them. I had the same routine every day. Head out to the hay barn twice a day. Call, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty." Open a can of Fancy Feast for the cat. I would check on the chicks and then go about my business.
Finally the day came when I felt like I could let my chickens out and they were big enough to be safe from the cat and from the hawks that we see occasionally. Everything went fine, and they loved it. They were happy and healthy and living the life that chickens should lead. Chickens are not made to live on top of one another in cramped spaces. The poultry industry has done us all a great injustice by the practices that are used these days. Sorry, I will get off my soap box for now. The cat was still hanging around, and all things were good. That's when I noticed something odd.
I would go out to the barn and call my chickens, "Here chick, chick, chick."
Not even a head lifted in curiosity.
But...If I say, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty," then grab your horse and hold on to your hat because there will be a Chicken Stampede. It is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and it always makes me look around to see if any of my neighbors are outside.
We may not be conventional, but we are definitely entertaining.