Before going to the inside of the house, I thought I would do a post about all of our animals. Not just our pets, but some of the critters that decided to investigate the farm.
Our nearest neighbor came by to say hi the day we closed on the house...
We enjoy seeing and hearing her and her friends moseying around the fields that surround our property.
As for our pets, we had only been in the camper 3 weeks (moved in 4 Nov. 2009) when Max showed up. My daughter and I were sitting at the table and heard this pathetic cry outside the window by the little dining booth in our camper. Now the day was cold and drizzling rain and we were especially surprised to find a tiny kitten hovering outside. He was wet, cold and hungry.
We brought him in, dried him off and fed him some warm milk. And that was it. I was smitten and he has been with us since.
Max is full of life and has such a personality.
He has grown into a magnificent cat. And he is still... after 3 years... a stinker!!! He loves to find places to hid, especially in our little clothes nooks in the camper.
He even got into our farmhouse renovations and decided to check out the progress being done on our roof.
He was our first rescue and is still our favorite.
Our second one was a kitten that we found online. He was a Norwegian "Weegie" Forest Cat, who also happened to be a Manx. A lady had rescued him in a trailer park in Blacksburg, VA, and was looking for someone to adopt him, as he was being terrorized by the local kids. We adopted him and named him "Bubbles".
He was also a HUGE cat. He and Max got along FAMOUSLY, the below photo being the two of them curled up in the old sink that used to be in the bathroom of our farmhouse before the remodel.
Unfortunately, we lost him this past spring. We buried him in a small grave in our pine grove, and planted a beautiful rhododendron over his grave.
Our next pet was Bella. She is a BEAUTIFUL dog that I picked up as a puppy at the local Hardees'. Apparently her mother, who was a pure bred Great Pyrenees, wondered onto a local farm and fell in love with the owner's Blue Merle Great Dane. Their love affair culminated in a litter of beautiful puppies, most looking like the father, but a couple that were a great mixture of them both.
Her birth date was 1 January 2010, and we got her in March when she was 10 weeks old. Apparently her mother decided she was tired of farm life and went her merry way, leaving the owner of the Great Dane with 10 puppies. Bella weighed in at 25 lbs, and now is about 125.
Karl's daughter fell in love with Bella when we brought her to MA with us and so the search began to find a similar dog for her and her family. There were none to be found in the area of MA where they live, and with so many in this area we decide to find one locally. Now the funny thing about Great Pyrenees is that in the on-line want ads, they are listed under the farming section rather than pets. That is because their nicknames are "guardians of the flock", as they are bred to protect livestock.
We found a beautiful, purebred puppy and decided to foster him until they could come down and pick him up, which would be in June. They named him Mojo, and golly gee... he definitely had his mojo going. He LOVED to beat up on Bella, even though Bella could easily have eaten him with one bite.
But they became best of friends (still are).
Mojo is now a HUGE, BEAUTIFUL dog himself. He is larger than Bella, and yet just a big lap dog.
The above photo is Mojo sitting in Karl's lap. Can you imagine?
Now about the same time as Mojo came into our lives, we had a plethora of cats and kittens show up. Late December of 2009, a scrawny cat that we eventually called "Shadow Kitty" had showed up. Her name was derived from the fact that she stayed in the shadows of the trees, rarely allowing us to get a good glimpse of her. She never allowed us to touch her, but we fed her and hoped eventually she would trust us enough to become a part of our household. She stayed around about 2 months and eventually disappeared (remember... this was THE year of the BIG snows). We were never able to determine what happened to her.
However, come spring we had a large white male cat that had taken up residency on the farm, and a young female cat that looked EXACTLY like shadow kitty... just younger. We started feeding these two cats and hoped they would stick around. Well... they did... and more.
One day when I was mowing, I saw a tiny furry, white kitten sitting on one of our brush piles. I turned off the mower and walked over to the kitten and it happily let me pick it up. I brought it to the house and Karl, being his vintage self, just smile and shook his head. I brought the kitten into the camper and fed him and then went back to mowing. Well... by the time I had gotten back to the mower, there was a SECOND kitten sitting in the same area as the 1st one! I picked this one up and repeated the same scenario as the 1st one. I then went back to the mower... and lo and behold... a 3rd one in the exact same spot!!! However... this one would not let me near him. He ran into the brush pile where I could not reach him. And then the mama cat (the young one that looked like Shadow Kitty) showed up and went into the nest to feed this one. It didn't take us long to figure out that the white male cat was the local Lothario and that we had the whole family living in our brush pile. The camper was getting quite crowded at this point (2 dogs and 6 cats).
We got the new cats shots and neutered/spayed them. We named the male "Frankie" because of him being the dreamboat of the bunch. We never named the mother cat or 2 of the kittens (by this time we had caught the 3rd one) because we immediately found homes for them. We eventually found a new home for Frankie, but kept one of the white kittens because Karl's daughter decided she wanted it, as well as Mojo. She named it "Floyd", since he came from Floyd, VA.
He and Mojo fast became buddies. AND... we found out from the vet that the kitten was deaf and that it was quite common for white cats to be deaf. That made sense because of him having no fear of the lawnmower. He was and still is full of himself, and both he and Mojo are enjoying a wonderful life in Wrentham, MA with Karl's daughter and her family.
So by the end of June 2010 we were back to Bella, Max and Bubbles. Bella was so heartbroken after Mojo left and we decided to get a permanent companion for her. Again we went to the on-line ads and found a boxer-mix named "Maya" She was already spayed, up to date on shots, familiar with cats, and we felt she would be the perfect fit. And she was. She got along with Bella as well as both cats.
Unfortunately living out in the country sometimes isn't easy on the heart or the animals. Maya disappeared last fall and we haven't seen her since.
We found another boxer to replace Maya, although anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet knows that a pet cannot be totally replaced. Our new pet's name was "Snickers" and proved to be quite the clown.
We have since called her "Maya Too". She loves the farm and is a constant companion to Bella.
This past spring we decided it was time to get some chickens. We purchased several from our local Tractor Supply and put them under a heat lamp in the camper. Now we REALLY had the funny farm! 2 cats, 2 dogs and 10 baby chicks... plus Karl and I. Oh... we also have a beta fish! Gotta be able to get along to have that many breathing animals under one roof!
Everyone got along and we had a peaceful flow until one of the chicks decided it wanted to move out of the box in the middle of the night. We were awakened by Maya Too when she tried to corral the rogue chick back into the box. We knew it was time to move the chicks into a larger area. Which meant...
the bathtub in the house! Yep... Karl made a wired door and we put wood shavings on the bottom and the chicks took up new residence inside the old bathtub. They had more space to roam and were able to stay in the tub for about 3 weeks. Also, the cats LOVED it. They would sit on top of the door and watch the chicks run around... kinda like 'kitty TV". We kept them in the tub until we finished out the chicken house. We knew it was time to move them when they would stick their heads through the wire and talk to us when we were in the house.
Now the chicken house was what at one time was a corn crib. Karl removed 30 loads of corn cobs out of the building. We cleaned and braced and then walled up the walls with plywood and added a window. We used the door that we had torn out of the old store (a previous post). and got the chicks moved without incident.
Eventually we added roosts and made nesting boxes and automatic feeders to the house, and a great fenced chicken yard in which they could play. We planted morning glories and beans to climb up the posts holding the wire fencing, and added blue-bird houses to the top of the posts.
We have happy chickens... and they lay fabulous brown eggs...
We DID have one additional farm animal... but just for a couple of weeks. He was a handsome little pygmy goat and we named him Jose'.
He was quite funny, but unfortunately he decided he was in love with our dogs and couldn't understand why they didn't want to breed with him. Additionally, he had a hard time understanding that he was not welcome in the camper. Goats are not easy animals to corral and we eventually had to say "good-bye" to Jose'.
Now one of the hazards of country living is the wild life. The grandson of the gentleman that built our farmhouse shared some photos of his grandfather. One of them showed him with a bobcat that was killed on the property.
Karl and I have also had our share of wild life encounters. We had a young raccoon (we named him "Rocky") show up to eat with our cats. He also had a friend, a possum. We named him "Percy". They hung around off and on for a couple of weeks, then we figured they got frustrated when we didn't feed them.
On occasion we have a skunk that slinks by, and our dogs have had to endure the brunt of their annoyance when they have gotten too personal with them. YUK!!! We have also had lots of deer and even a bear. We don't mind the wild life as long as they don't intrude in our living space or destroy our fruit trees or garden.
The only time we I have ever been scared of the wild life was on a Sunday morning, about 2 years ago. Karl was still in bed and I was sitting in our breakfast nook, having coffee. Max was annoyed at something under the counter and so I decided to open the doors and let him investigate. A ruckus ensued and one of the drawers in the cabinet started shaking. I opened it up and much to my surprise and dismay I saw a tail with ridges on it. And when I say tail... I mean as in about 10" long!!! I screamed to Karl that their was a rat in the camper.
Now... I suppose in Karl's mind I was just using feminine hysteria over a little mouse and so he wasn't too concerned about the whole thing. He got out of bed and said he'd get it once he had had his... ahem...morning constitutional. Well... he goes to do his thing, and I am still sitting in the booth, but by this time with my feet in the seat as well. Then suddenly this HUGE RAT comes out of the cabinet and runs into the bedroom!!! And to make matters worse, Frankie was sitting on a chair and Bubbles was on the sofa and Max was also coming out of the cabinet and they all just sat and watched the monster scamper by! I suppose it was so big that they didn't want a piece of it, but that didn't give me any consolation!
I ran out the front door... pretty much in hysteria... telling Karl I would not go back inside until he killed it! I don't think he still grasped the fact that it was indeed a rat... not a mouse. He calmly walks in with a crowbar to destroy the creature. I told him it had gone into the bedroom. Now a bedroom in a camper is not that big. But, we couldn't see it anywhere. I hurriedly jumped on the bed (I knew I was in no danger of it being in there) and peered over the sides of the bed. I happened to notice it snug in the corner between the bed and the nightstand. I at once jumped off the bed and literally jumped onto the table top. Seriously. I was so scared that I was screaming. And to make matters worse, the horrible creature came running out of the bedroom and ran right past me! Now at this point I definitely WAS hysterical. I mean come on! This thing was at least the size of a man's hand with a 10" tail!
Karl corners it in the bathroom and disposes of it, but not before I am in tears and having a complete conniption fit. Needless to say, I didn't make it to worship service that morning and I was NOT at all impressed with our cats.
Now... not all of the critters on the farm have been unwelcomed guests. Even though I was upset when we had a giant rat visit us, I was overjoyed when we had a visit from a giant chicken. It was just last Halloween when a GIANT rooster named "Rex" showed up at our place.
It had a voice that sounded just like my grandson Garrett, but the rooster swore his name was "Rex the Rooster". Now that's a critter I can handle!!!