Time Flies. . .

LeAnn posted this blog on Monday, June 27th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

LeAnn’s note: I cannot believe how times flies. I have been so busy with writing for the two newspapers, trying to keep up with the lawn, the garden, the house, the laundry, chores, preparing for the musical riding with the dressage horses, and working with my own mare when time allows — that I barely seem to have time to know if I am coming or going, never mind having time to post a blog entry or to publish Rural Route 2 News. The publisher who owns both the newspaper I work for and another newspaper has been unable to find a reporter for the other newspaper for the past year, so I have been doing double duty at times. Here’s hoping that life may slow down for a bit. And here’s a story I had planned to tell a while ago. . .

It all started on a Friday morning in May when I went down to the barn to feed my mare, Isabelle.

As I walked into the barn, “something” jumped up from the hay right by Little Sister’s nest where she had five kittens that were four weeks old.

The “something” turned out to be a fox. A very scruffy, sickly-looking fox.

“Get out of here!” I yelled.

The fox looked around in confusion and then took off out the door. I went out back of the barn to see if I could tell where it had gone, but I couldn’t see a thing.

When I got back into the barn, Little Sister came out of her nest, so I was certain that the kittens were all right. I fed Isabelle and Little Sister, and then I called Randy at work to tell him about the fox.

I was not very happy to have a fox in the barn. Fox will kill cats, and I was worried about Little Sister and her babies.

Apparently so was Little Sister.

Friday evening, Randy and I walked around the hayfield before we fed Isabelle. As we came back around by the garden, we heard a kitten crying in the barn. We hurried inside, and much to my dismay, instead of five, there was only one little terrified black kitten in the nest.

When I had come home two hours earlier, I had checked the barn right away, and all five kittens were there. But now, there was only one.

I picked up the tiny black kitten, a little tom. I put him under my jacket, and he snuggled against my neck.

“What happened to your brothers and sisters?” I said.

Randy went outside to look around to see if Little Sister had moved her babies into the lean-to or behind the barn, but he did not find a trace of any of them.

While Randy continued looking for the cat and her kittens, I walked around with the little tom snuggled up against my neck. The poor little fellow was probably hungry in addition to being really frightened.

In a little while, Randy came running up the hill from the barn.

“Little Sister is coming back!” he said.

I went down to the barn, and there was Little Sister, standing on the hay, calling for her baby. I put the tom down by his mother’s feet.

Little Sister lost no time in scooping him and holding her jaws lightly around his neck. She ran to the barn wall, scooted under and took off.

Randy followed in hot pursuit.

Little Sister headed across the neighbor’s cornfield. Randy was about 40 feet behind her. He walked until he reached the area where there is shale pit. He stood there for a moment, then I saw him motion to me to come.

I picked my way across the field.

Randy pointed. “See that brush pile down there? And see the hole in the middle of it?”

I squinted. In the dry part of the shale pit was a big brush pile. And in the middle of the pile was a hole.

“She took her babies in that hole. I saw her go in with the one, and when she went in, I heard the others meowing,” he said.

Little Sister had moved all five of her kittens to the brush pile.

“It must have been the fox,” I said. “She must have been worried about the fox and figured they’d be safer in the brush pile than in the barn.”

For about a week after that, every time he went outside, my husband took the shotgun with him. If the fox was sick with mange, the kindest thing (and the safest) would be to put him out of his misery. We never did see the fox again.

The next morning after Little Sister had moved her kittens to the brush pile, I had a terrible thought. After all, why would someone pile brush in a shale pit where there’s water on one end?

Well, to *burn* the brush pile, of course.

I could not help myself. I called the landowner and asked him if he was planning to burn the brush pile this spring.

The landowner is the father of my best friend from high school.

When I told him our momma cat had moved her kittens to his brush pile, he laughed.

“Oh, no. You don’t need to worry about me burning the brush pile this spring. I would only burn it in the winter. Your kittens are safe,” he said.

Several days later, after we had gotten a few thunderstorms and some heavy rain, Little Sister decided to move all five of her babies back to the barn. She put them in a different nest, though — not the nest where they were born.

The kittens are getting big enough now that I should start to look for homes for them. There are four little tabbies and one black kitten. The little black kitten will make someone a very nice companion. He purrs like crazy when I pet him, and he likes to be held.

Three of the tabbies are fairly social too, although not quite as social as the black kitten. One little tabby, who looks remarkably like the stray tom we call Magnus apparently has Magnus’s personality as well. Magnus is a large tabby, but I only catch glimpses of him from time to time. He is a darker tabby. The little Magnus-look-alike kitten hangs back when the others come to eat kitten chow mixed with canned food and waits until I leave the barn until he feels comfortable eating (sigh).

I cannot be sure, of course, but I am wondering if the black kitten remembers that I carried him around and comforted him when he was the kitten left behind, when he was the last kitten Little Sister moved to the brush pile.

Who knows. Maybe so.

Musical Riding
I started out riding the rescue horse named Hazel but have now switched to the rescue horse named Amore. He is a black horse and smaller than Hazel, but he is an absolute little sweetheart. He looks like a small mustang, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in heart and personality. The stable owner, Karen from Hay River Equestrian, thinks that the conditions were so bad when Amore was a baby that the lack of nutrition stunted his growth, and that if he’d had adequate nutrition¬† early on, he would have been a bigger horse.

No matter. He’s a sweetheart. And we’re going to do the musical rides together.

I am hoping to get a picture of Amore soon so I can post it to my blog.

LeAnn R. Ralph

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