Sunday, November 30, 2008
It was much harder to walk around the yard with him, the snow was very wet and slippery and I'm afraid it will be icey tomorrow. I probably should have taken out the big tractor and driven it down the driveway a couple times to pack down the snow, but I had left Mother at home alone and she wasn't feeling well so I decided to deal with the snow tomorrow. It's supposed to snow all night and be pretty bad by morning.
Some friends came out from town and helped me put up some of my mother's Christmas candles.- they're little figures, like Santa and angels and snowmen and wisemen, etc. Mother has the largest collection of Christmas candles in the world - at least that is what we have thought for the last twenty-five years. She started collecting them before I was born - so, quite a long time ago. The boxes they are in are very heavy, so I made a decision to only put up a few this year, we probably put out a couple hundred. It's kind of nice to have only a part of the collection on the mantle, the bookshelves, window sills, etc. because it's easier to see individual candles. There are a lot of memories connected to those candles.
The candles put me in a Christmas mood, so I'm going to get my Santa antique replica rug out and get some hooking done.
and here he is three seconds later at the other end of the yard.
Gibby may have looked silly chasing his tail, but he was smart enough to stop once he caught it!
I think Gibby liked being up high and hidden. I don't think he knew I could see him. He really has good balance, the top of the flatbed was a sheet of ice and snow - its completely shaded by the garage so the snow didn't melt like it did in the yard- but he never slid across it.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
As near as I can tell, Gibby's odd howl didn't mean anything other than responding to hearing me open the gate. He was dancing in the pen when I got to him. He's such a cheerful dog. When I let him out, he ran from me to Patches and back again. Blue jumped at him, to keep him away from Patches, then Patches and Blue got into a barkfest. While they were doing their doggy things, I went over to feed the chickens. Next week, I'm going to have to find some time to go up to the dog pound to find another dog, Gibby really needs a roommate.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Blackie walks ahead of me toward the red house porch, stopping often and looking back over her shoulder. Each day, she stops at least once, sits up on her haunches and touches her nose to my hand. I can give her tail a little tug and even pet her long body, but she won't let me pick her up.
I tried to take some photos of Gibby, since I haven't posted any pictures of him recently. He was in the yard, running in a large circle, stopping at one side to sniff the ground around Blue and Patches, and then stopping at the other side to sniff the ground near the pool room - maybe sniffing a cat trail. The first photo, above, shows how fast Gibby was moving - he ran right out of the photo.
He slowed down a little bit so I got two more photos.
After about fifteen frustrating minutes, I finally caught him checking out the smells near the pool room. By the time I got this shot, it was getting too dark for more photos.
Gibby still has access to the house. The two antique planes I brought from the shop didn't work, the blades kept slipping out. I'll have to get back to the hardware store and buy the plane I wanted originally - can't do it tomorrow, the store will be closed for Thanksgiving, so Gibby has at least one more day to play inside. Once I can get the door closed and locked, then I can figure out how to install a doggy door.
I guess it's really funny that a door to my house doesn't close. It's odd enough in this day and age that I don't lock my doors, but apparently I don't shut them either. I have absolutely no idea how long that door has been so swollen that it won't close, I guess it could be years. I think when I opened the dog pen for Gibby the door looked like it was closed, but it was just resting against the door sill. When I had some men finish enclosing the front porch this fall (a project I started before I bought the store back in 1994) they installed a door with a lock and keys. They asked me if I wanted to lock the door - and I laughed. A dog pen door that won't close, a back door held shut with a pitch fork - and a locked front door. I guess a polite burglar would be deterred.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The other good news is there were no dead and no sick cats today. I'm more convinced than ever that the poison was in the food - I only wish I had caught on sooner. I counted fifteen cats today - the year old orange cat with the friendly face was back. I haven't seen him for a week or more. There was also one cat caught in the pool room - the long-hair black yearling who looks like Sooters. I can't figure out how he got into the pool room. I had to pry weeds and vines away to get the door open, and then, of course, he wouldn't come out when I called. I had to leave the door open and hope he would come out on his own. I tried to watch from around the corner but all I saw were more cats going in. I played a little with Gibby and then climbed up the broken steps to look in the pool room - while I was looking I heard a little mew, looked down and the little Sooters was sitting outside, just under the ledge below the poolroom floor. How sweet of him to let me know he was outside - he even sounded like my old Sooters (Sooters was my much loved house cat, killed by a friend's pack of dogs eleven years ago.)
I tried unsuccessfully once again to lock Gibby out of the house. I stopped at the hardware store to buy a plane to plane off part of the door so I could get it closed tight again. The girl at the hardware store talked me into another tool, a plastic handle with a sort of rough file fitted into it. It was a stupid choice, not strong enough to deal with the hard wood of the door. I filed down part of the softer wood of the doorframe and was able to get the door halfway shut, but not far enough to be able to engage the dead bolt. I whammed on it from the inside with an old hammer and wedged it in further, but I bet Gibby will have it open in a flash. I'll have to go back to the hardware tomorrow and buy a plane - or, if I have any sense, I'll go to my own store and get one of my antique planes - I bet I could get rid of half a door with one of those in half of the time I wasted today. If I remember correctly, I have eight or ten antique planes.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Gibby has been busy redecorating the inside of the farmhouse. The two electric heaters are keeping the main floor warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing, and maybe warm enough to feel good to a hairy dog. He's been throwing everything loose into the dining room, including the almost empty dog food bag. I retrieved it, and filled the big bowl in the kitchen. Gibby seems to be having his meals there instead of in the pen. I guess I'm going to have to get some tools out - make that door into the pen close tight by shaving down the side, and then install a doggy door. When really deep winter hits, I can't have that door wide open or the pipes will freeze in the basement - in fact, the water storage tank is in direct line with the stairs and that door. I moved the tank into the basement some years ago when I got tired of spending all the below zero days with a blowtorch trying to melt the ice in the top of the tank where it was buried out in front of the barn. There's no way I have time for that foolishness now.
Gibby and George are apparently never going to be friends, but George doesn't seem to be as wary of Gibby as he used to be. Tonight, he walked right through the circle Gibby was running so he could ask me to let him into the house. That required some pretty fancy footwork to jump over the cable. I guess George must think the dog food in the house tastes better than his food at Grandma's house. I was pleased to see him feeling well enough to be walking around instead of just laying by the car waiting to get back in.
There was only one egg in the hen house today, but it was a beautiful bright blue - almost a robin's egg blue. Pretty soon I'm going to have to find something to do with those eggs. Even though we had eggs for breakfast, I still have three dozen in the refrigerator. I know it's silly, but I love to take them out and look at them - they're blue and green and pink, and some are gray. The pink ones are from the old hens and only appear once or twice a week, but we've been getting three or four of the others every day, until today. I put that one beautiful blue egg in my jacket pocket and forgot to give it to Mother when I got into the car. We had to go to the feed store and I bought a fifty pound bag of chicken feed - and some thermal underwear for Mother. I struggled to get that bag of feed onto the top of the grocery cart, then had to muscle it from the cart into the back of the car. I already had three big bags of cat food in the back (two good ones and one of the probably poisonous Kroger bags) so I had to shuffle them out of the way and then get the chicken feed in - and with all that and several ins and outs under the steering wheel, I got all the way home before I remembered that egg. I took it out of my pocket and it was still whole, tough little beautiful blue egg.
Well, I didn't tell you much about Gibby today because I really didn't spend much time with him. I don't think I even threw one stick for him. He watched me carry the two dead cats to the corn crib and must have understood I wasn't feeling really cheerful, because he didn't even ask me to throw a stick. Oh, he did tell me he doesn't like well water - something I suspected. I dumped the ice out of the bucket by the back door of the house and filled the bucket with fresh clean well water. He chose to lick the icey chunk of rain water and never put his nose in the bucket at all. There are enough chunks of rain water ice around the farm, maybe I should take some in the house and melt them for him. And then again, maybe he should learn to like well water.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Two more dead cats today, and three who refused to eat. It looks like poison - and my mother asked if it was in the food - and I was stunned. I had already given them two feedings from a new bag, the same Krogers brand as the last bag. They had already eaten quite a bit tonight, there wasn't enough left to remove, but I had a bag from another source, so I gave them some of that. All of the young ones are gone except one very shy shorthair gray, the teeny-tiny black one has disappeared just like the brave little gray. I counted twice tonight, counted 17 the first time and 18 the second time - that's ten less than the highest count during the summer.
I also found a dead chicken. This was not a good day - no sign of trauma, no injury, and not the cold - right inside under the heat lamp.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I went away for a week and a good friend took care of the animals at the farm. That means that Blue and George and Patches had to return home. They returned home and apparently worked with Gibby to provide easy in and out to the dog pen, and Gibby has been a house dog ever since. I don't know if he stays in the house overnight or just goes in to romp around, but it's a good thing I had already decided that the couches and chairs all need to be replaced when I return home - they are completely soaked with mud. It's not as terrible as it would seem, there's not a stuffed chair or couch under thirty years old and not one that was in decent shape before Gibby moved in. At least, Gibby isn't a chewer and hasn't damaged any of the wooden furniture, which I do treasure.
The last few days, there are indications that Gibby has gone kind of wild. He has knocked boxes off of piles, cleared stuff off of tables, and generally made a huge mess. It looks like he was either looking for something or chasing a mouse through the house. I hope he hasn't taken his destructiveness upstairs - I haven't gone up to see. I put hooks on the outside doors yesterday, but they weren't effective - the eyes they were hooked into were gone today.
About a half dozen cats are gone. Little Gray is one of them, just disappeared. I found two dead on the porch. I think it might be coyotes, but can't figure out why they would kill and leave their prey behind. I enclosed the cat porch with heavy gauge plastic to give them a warmer place out of the wind, I hope I haven't created a trap they can't escape.
Winter has arrived too soon - frozen water buckets, frozen hose in the barn, chicken yard tarp weighed down with ice, etc. Despite knowing that winter always comes, I'm never really ready for it, and never expect it before Thanksgiving. I guess my biggest cold weather concern is water - have to get the heater set up in the barn trough, have to set up heated bowls for the cats and Rusty - so Rusty has water when I figure out how to keep him out of the house, where he's been using the automatic fountain in the bath room.