Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Winter Visitor
This letter has been delayed by at least 45 minutes while I manage our indoor herd of three cats. Twitch causes constant trouble and teases little Laine when he’s bored. Magoo needs more attention than any two year-old and even now has tipped a container of cereal and is testing its sovereignty. We scold Twitch when he is mean which causes him to go sit on his â€œpouting chair.â€ He sees my admonishments as play and leaps from his perch then beats me back to the computer where he sprawls on the seat of my chair and waits to be petted. We have no human children, however we have definitely have kids.
Today is a big day Dave; I am returning the heifers to our brother, Steve. I purchased these cattle in early 2010. During their time here, they have grown into a sort of bovine adolescence and are now ready to go back to their original home. When I deliver steers for butcher, it is a one way trip and a bit sad. However, today’s heifers will see familiar surroundings and their mother cow at the end of a road which leads to Viking, Minnesota. These animals start their life with Steve, spend some time at our place, then back to Steve’s farm. The only down side to this arrangement is that the cattle never get to hyphenate their last names because they are always Nelsons.
I tasted spring on Monday. If we first covet with our eyes, then it is logical that we first taste with our nose. Oppressive cold makes it impossible to smell anything and Monday was just warm enough to enjoy the freshness of winter which tastes a lot like spring. The first little warm spell of the fourth season is almost like seeing weakness in a seemingly unbeatable opponent. I know now that winter will one day die and it seems a little more approachable, perhaps the snow and cold is not so bad. I understand winter’s need to be, at times, stern and unapproachable. Mother nature enjoys irony and I understand the old hag will send winter back in cold and hard next week to mock the feelings winter and I briefly shared.
I hope Carrington, North Dakota and you are doing well. The last time we spoke was before Christmas; at that time Carrington had already received two more inches of snow than it received in the whole season of 2009-2010. We have received so much snow that I am now using a box blade to drag any new snow out into the pasture. I pile all of our snow next to ditches or other drainage so hopefully our spring will not be so wet-oh, that it was that simple in the Red River Valley. I plan to visit you for breakfast before the summer so you will have to find a piece of farm equipment for me to purchase-gotta deduct that mileage for taxes.
Tell, the wife, the kinder and their spouses hello
your little bro’
I like a good story, particularly when it involves animals. I never watched the Walt Disney animal movies, even though the stories were good, because animals always died (Old Yeller, Bambi) or were separated from their family (Dumbo.) This is a happy animal story, Walt Disney has been gone a long time.
It was raining Tuesday morning which meant little to those working indoors but created a problem for a small, orange kitten living in the outdoors. Storm water drains have a grill plus a slot cut into the curb which creates an overhang, which is where the kitten sought shelter from the storm then fell the full distance to the bottom of the drain.
It does not take a village to raise a kitten-it takes good owners. It does, however, take a village of people to make up for careless pet ownership and fortunately that village was available Tuesday morning. Two concerned citizens heard the little cries from far below the pavement and called the Sheriff’s Office. An officer from the Police Department was dispatched along with a truck from the utilities department and the kitten was quickly located but a rescue was impossible as he was hiding inside a 12 inch storm pipe. Pet ownership is like parenting, if you don’t do a good job it seems no amount of government resources can make things better.
One of the neighbor’s in the Riverside Avenue area had been watching the scene that morning and walked over to help. He even climbed down into the storm drain and brought some food to entice the little kitten from it’s concrete shelter. After the city vehicle’s left, this good Samaritan went back to his house for some extra help-his own cat. The rescue cat was able to coax the little kitten out into the open after which he was removed and taken by the Police to the Pennington County Humane Society. I stopped by the society on Wednesday and he was doing fine and living with a sibling who had been found in the same area.
Okay, let’s break this down. Cats in town should not be allowed to stray; they get lost, breed more homeless cats and fall down storm drains. Pet ownership is a responsibility and those who fail to recognize that fact should maybe try a plant or collect dryer lint as a hobby. More happily, Thief River Falls, Minnesota is a town where if a kitten falls into a storm drain the following happens; people notice and call for help, help arrives, a neighbor (and his rescue cat) volunteer to help, a rescue is completed and finally the kitten is transported to the oasis that is the Humane Society. It’s not only a good story, this is story about a good town.
I’m sure many will want to adopt the little orange orphan in the next few days. I suspect he will need to grow some before he is ready for a new, caring family. However, the Humane Society has several full-grown versions of the little kitten who are ready for adoption right now at 218-681-8045. Their love will enrich your life and change you as a person; that’s the start of a good story.
(had computer problems yesterday so that is why this week’s column is late-GN)
I haven’t explained a building project for a bit and animals need shelter so this week’s column is obvious. We’re going to build a cat house.
First off, most of you will nod in agreement but to those who don’t, let me assure you of a fact; animals need shelter. There are some animals which tolerate cold better than others, however at some point they all will need shelter, food and water. The easier these necessities are to access then the more effective they will be in making your pet comfortable and healthy. I’ve told you this in the nicest way possible. The Bible states in Genesis that God put us in charge of the fish, birds and wild animals. Please do not be like the arrogant politician who believes that being in charge of something means others must answer to you. It means you must answer to others and carries great responsibility. You are in charge of your pet’s care.
Let’s build something, one of my favorite things to do. This project is a cat house but would serve a dog as well by increasing its size. I built our cat house for the strays who visit so it is located on our deck so we can easily feed them. The house is on caster wheels so that it may be rolled away to a shaded area in the summer. During the winter, I want as much sunshine as possible as the south facing wall of this house is Plexiglas. The sun shines through onto a small porch that is made of black padding to absorb as much heat as possible. The porch can then release heat into the house during the early evening. I built a small loft to take advantage of rising heat and to give our cats a place to perch. The main living room of the house is in the back and has an entry just large enough for cats to enter but small enough so that heat can exit only very slowly. The back room has a heated pad (which uses only 30 watts of electricity) and is insulated with foam board as is the ceiling throughout.
The outside of our cat house is made from recovered barn wood. I mercilessly caulked every seem to reduce drafts and covered the roof with old barn tin I’d recovered from the Viking Elevator before it was demolished. I found a roof cap under an old shed and used that too which kept my expenses to a minimum. Most of the materials for this project were sitting in or under a shed except for the Plexiglas and caulking. As in most cases, most of the benefits in comfort to our cats came from good ideas and good construction rather than money spent. One good idea is that there is only one entry door which is located opposite of the prevailing wind which seems to typically be from the northwest. This architectural element cost nothing but created much greater comfort.
There you have it, a good project that does good for others. I hope your pets spend their winter riding the couch like ours do, however good outdoor protection is a must for animals who spend time outdoors. It is your responsibility, it’s even in the Bible.