Monday, October 20, 2014

New additions to the cast of characters...

Well, two more lovely girl-cats will be joining Redford and Missy in the barn this Friday. Meet Mootie and Pip!



Yesterday I got a message from my lovely friend Deb over at Just Cats. A client of hers has to move from her home for health reasons, and give up her two cats. Mootie is about 7, Pip about 1-1/2. Poor Mootie languished at the shelter for five months before being adopted by her lovely current owner. Pip showed up of her own accord.

But now their owner must move in with friends, and she cannot take the cats. Deb agreed to help her find them a home, and yesterday she asked if we would consider taking these two on as barn cats, as they currently spend most of their time outside anyway, and are magnificent mousers.

Gordon and I read Deb's message, took one look at each other, and agreed they should become part of our kitty family.

When Mootie was at the shelter, they thought she was 12 years old due to the state of her gums and teeth. After she was adopted, she ended up having ALL of her teeth pulled! And they realized she was quite a bit younger than initially thought.

Not surprisingly, she became much happier and more playful once she wasn't dealing with a terrible gum infection!

You can read Deb's posts about them here and here.

We are really happy that we are able to take in these two, and I hope they will enjoy life in the barn. We are working on setting up warm places in the barn for winter, with heaters and heated mats and whatever else we can put together to make it toasty. We are also planning on putting a cat door into our garage, which is heated to 50F all winter. 

I continue to feel conflicted about having two classes of cat here (barn cats and the indoor crew) but among other things, we desperately need continued rodent control in the barn. And six cats indoors is about all I can handle. We've achieved a delicate balance with those six and I'd like to keep them happy!

That said, Missy and Redford seem to be enjoying life out there and we make a point of giving them love and attention (and two square meals!) every day. I told Gordon we'll need to make a "cuddle chart "to make sure all 10 cats get some love each day. :) Not to mention the dog and pigs and whoever else is around!

Hmmm... I guess I should add Gordon to the "cuddle chart'!

Speaking of cuddles, Louise has been getting her turn as I type this.

Pictures of the new additions to follow after they arrive on Friday!

PS A little word of thanks to my hubby Gordon, who helps make these things happen. Love you, sweetie!

Friday, October 17, 2014

My life flashed before my eyes...

Okay not really. But just a little! We had another riding lesson yesterday. Oh how I love these riding lessons! And I now own the first pair of cowboy boots I've EVER had. But back to the title of my post. Here I am on Bonnie, aka Bon Bon...

Bon Bon was sporting some ATTITUDE yesterday, testing this useless newbie ider for all she was worth. But I was doing fine, until all of a sudden, something spooked mah horse! Gordon thought a bug flew in front of her. I dunno what happened, but all of sudden we went from quietly sauntering along to crazy-ass jerking around... I don't even know how we ended up in the middle of the ring!

And then I prepared to die. Fortunately, my instructor's voice cut through my thoughts of imminent death, and I did the "spook circle" thing she'd taught us, pulling on just the right rein so that Bon Bon would turn in a circle instead of bolting forward. And it kind of worked, except (a) I was so freaked when she started to spook that I immediately wrapped the rein tightly around my right hand and (b) I forgot to ease off the rein once she was circling, so she kept spinning like a top and I kept squealing like a girl. For one brief moment, I thought "That's it, I'm going to fly off the back of this horse and it's going to hurt and rhen I'll die!" I think I had that feeling people have when they are about to drown. But then Linda, our teacher, called out to me to ease off the rein, and I did, and Bon Bon came to a halt.

So I survived my first spooking! In reality, I wasn't going to fly off, and Linda said I did mostly all the right things (including leaning forward on the horse) and that she was really pleased. And despite the fact that I wanted to run screaming from the riding ring at that point, Linda made me keep going. And it turned out to be a great lesson, because I learned that I can actually control a freaked-out horse. No, maybe I won't be able to all the time; I don't know. But I did this time!

I can see where that expression about "getting right back on the horse" comes from.

That Bon Bon was in some kind of mood yesterday! She was being such a pain that Linda took her around the ring a few times to remind her how to behave, then I got back on. But she was testing me on every corner as we did a posting  trot, until finally I sucked it up and became the leader again. And then I made Linda and her daughter laugh as I trotted past them and said, "I am not taking any more sh*t from this horse today!" 

Yeah, Bon Bon must have heard that, because we did great for the rest of the lesson. But  I think she knew I needed a little push so that I wouldn't get complacent. The horses we ride are actually very well behaved and well trained, but they are animals, not machines, so sometimes things happen!

I really wish I'd started this about 30 years ago, but better late than never. It's one of the things I love most in my life right now, so I hope not to break bones or get crushed or anything like that. They are big on teaching us safety, so fingers crossed that those lessons stick, because I really LOVE riding a horse.  

Speaking of which, here's how things are looking in the lower barn where the four box stalls are going...

Luc is pouring concrete next week, then the walls and doors will go up. Those posts are hemlock and weigh about 100 lbs each!

It's exciting to see all this progress down there. The pig palace is currently being winterized too! And we just had electricity put in the granary (where the pigs live), and we finally got a new barn door installed, so there's lots going on.

I took these pics out the bathroom window Wednesday...

It was a madhouse out there!

And today I took Missy to the vet...

She wasn't pleased, but she was a really good girl! We had her tested for toxoplasmosis (which killed her buddy Lionel.) In two weeks, we'll repeat the blood test. If she has it, and the levels have risen, they will know it's an active infection and treat accordingly. But I'm just hoping she's fine. The vet checked out thoroughly and found her healthy, and she got a FIV and Feline Leukemia vaccine (she already had the others.) So I think she's good to go! I had her microchipped as well.

I don't think Missy was too impressed with the pirate dog in the waiting room!

Have a superb weekend, my dear readers. I will try to catch up on my blog reading now that bee season is almost over.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The boats are out of the water!

Sigh. Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada, and before supper at my mother-in-law's, we went out for one last kayaking adventure.

This summer we kept our kayaks down at Hybrid Marine in Summerstown, covered in a tarp when not in use.

This did not work wonders for poor Blair's lawn!

The sun was out when we started. It has been unseasonably warm the past couple of days.

Things began to cloud over as time went on, but it didn't bother us.

The fall leaves are about at their peak here now.

We met up with a nice man from Montreal who takes his dog out kayaking. He wisely put him in a lifejackets, and secures him to the kayak. What a good little dog!

All too soon, we had to go back to the marina.



Oh well, soon I'll be getting the skis and snowshoes out!

On the way home we passed this farm with a beautiful stand of hardwood trees wearing their autumn best..

And many farmers were out harvesting their crops this weekend too.

Hope all my Canadian friends had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall is here

It was misty the other morning, and I caught the sun rising over the soybean fields next door...

Ye olde homestead.

And look who came up to say good morning:

Hello Redford! We have made the barn escape-proof so that we can shut the barn cats in at night and hopefully keep them safe from predators. Redford and Missy don't seem to mind at all.

Missy seems to be doing okay without Lionel, although she surely misses him. She's met Redford a couple of times, but they aren't fully integrated yet. I think they'll be good buddies! The vet wants us to have Missy tested for toxoplasmosis next week. Lionel's blood test results came back, and that is indeed what killed him. It's unusual for a cat to become so severely ill from it without some other underlying condition. I wondered if Lionel's immune system was poor due to his hard start in life. Although Missy seems fine, I will take her in next week and get her tested and checked out. I'd like to get her microchipped as well.

I take some solace from knowing we got Lionel to the vet just as soon as he started showing symptoms, and they were in fact treating him for the correct disease. They did everything they could to save him, but it just was not to be. Poor little man.

Meanwhile. work is going on. Here's where the future box stalls will be. We are just waiting for some hemlock to be delivered so that things can start up again. Should happen next week!

Yesterday I finally finished extracting honey. Now I just have to bottle it all!


Here's a shot of the duck pairing pond we had put in last winter.

I love the "panorama" setting on my iPhone! I used it for this picture and also the shot of the box stalls, above.

Redford follows me absolutely everywhere...

He likes to help me when I'm beekeeping, too.

Here he is, sharpening his claws on one of the new fenceposts.

This is the field we had planted for the ponies. 

And here are some of my hives...

The temps are falling to freezing tonight. Fall is definitely here. This summer went by far too fast but I do like this time of year. Next month I'll be wrapping the beehives up for winter.

It's Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday. I hope all my fellow Canucks have a great long weekend! And everyone else, have a great normal weekend. :)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Be at peace, Lionel

Well, he was only part of our family for 13 short days, but today we had to let Lionel go.

I took him to the emergency vet last Wednesday when he started stumbling around and refusing to eat. Our vet had been working on a diagnosis since then, and giving him appetite stimulants. They were treating him for various possibilities including toxoplasmosis, or even a stroke. They did rule out FIP, but are still waiting for the toxo blood test results.

 Today sweet  Lionel took a rapid turn for the worse and developed a syndrome wherein his legs were all stiff and straight (but not totally aralysed; you could bend them and he could sense pain in them.) By the time we got to the clinic, he was in bad shape and the vet was concerned he would soon asphyxiate as the paralysis increased. He was already in an oxygen tent, and they were unable to deliver medication adequately to him, and of course he was not eating. There was really nothing left to do but let Lionel go.

So Gordon and I told him that we loved him, and that his former guardians did too, and Dr. Ashley put him peacefully to sleep.

It's extra-tough because he was just a young cat, only four years old, and so handsome and sweet. Already I knew he was a sensitive soul. He had a tough start to life as a feral (or semi-feral.) He was neutered as part of a local feral program, which is why his ear was notched.

He was very bonded to his friend Missy, who is no doubt missing him greatly.

I went and gave her a cuddle when we got back from the vet, and told her what had happened. I did ask the vet if Missy was at risk from anything, particularly if it was toxoplasmosis, but she said no.

I am hoping Missy will form a friendship with our other new barn cat, Redford, who seems to need a feline friend and is a very sweet and accepting little guy.

Godspeed, Lionel. You were very loved in your all-too-brief life and you'll be sorely missed.

Friday, October 03, 2014


First off, can I have some good thoughts for poor Lionel?

His former owners took this lovely pic of him. Wednesday night, we had to take Lionel to the emergency vet (aka our friend Dr. Dave.) He started stumbling around and having trouble walking, and he had lost his appetite. He was clearly in distress and uncomfortable.

He's still there and doing okay. He's had a whole bunch of tests and so far it has been narrowed down to a possible diagnosis of either toxoplasmosis or FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). We are hoping for toxoplasmosis which is at least treatable and offers a better outcome. Right now they are treating him as if he has toxoplasmosis, while they wait for the results of bloodwork sent to Toronto (they can't diagnosis FIP from bloodwork at our veterinary clinic.) He would be home already but Dr. Dave is concerned about Lionel's lack of appetite. They have been giving him appetite stimulants along with other medications. We may be able to bring Lionel home tomorrow if he's doing a bit more eating!

Of course we're already attached to him and I've been keeping his former guardians, our friends, in the loop as well. Lionel is a sensitive soul and I'm wondering if the stress of moving to a new place triggered something in him. Anyway, we miss him and want him home.

His buddy Missy misses him too!

We're trying to give her a bit of extra attention while Lionel is gone.

She is just the sweetest!

And look who's sleeping off an all-night bender...

Emerson did a runner and spent the night outside cavorting with Redford. We could not catch him so we left him to it. Redford, of course, comes any time I call him. I think the wrong cat is the barn cat!!

And much work is going on around here. We are having four box stalls built in the lower barn. The old concrete floor has been jackhammered apart and taken out, and replaced with stonedust. New concrete footings and support posts are going in, then the stalls are being built!

The fenceposts are all in for the pasture but we are just waiting on the delivery of rolls of horse fencing. 

It's for the two ponies on the right!  We are adopting them through the OSPCA. We were originally just taking the blind-in-one-eye gal on the right, but we were finally convinced to take the young man on the left, who was just gelded the other day. 

Owing to the fact that I know ZIP about training ponies, I'm going to get some help to make sure the young man grow up with nice manners.

If I'm not mistaken, I think both of these ponies came from the same barn as Ophelia, our pig!

We want to get some horses at some point too.

In the meantime, the manager of our OSPCA shelter sent me a Facebook message the other day, asking if we wanted a couple of quail. Oh sure, why not? What's two more.

They are apparently Coturnix quail. They said they were girls, but from what I've seen on the internet, I think the one on the left (currently named Stephanie) is a boy. The one on the right is Amanda. We could change that to Stephan and Aman, ha ha ha.

What do you think? Is that one on the bottom a girl or boy?

Whatever, they are very sweet!

They were turned in to the shelter by a woman who saw someone trying to feed the quail to a dog (!!!!) at a park in Cornwall. Yes, really. She intervened and saved the quail.

So now we are figuring out some winter housing for them. We could perhaps put them in the garage, which is heated, but I don't want them getting carbon monoxide poisoning from the cars. We do have an air exchanger in there. We'll figure something out.

So right now we're up to, ahem, two quails, two turkeys, three guinea hens, 15 ducks, 37 chickens (don't ask me how THAT happened), a dog, eight pigs and, um.... nine cats.

Nineteen of those animals came via the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry OSPCA! And soon we'll be adding the two ponies.

Missy approves!

Please send good thoughts for dear Lionel, and have a great weekend!