9 November, 2011

Answering Googled Questions

Q: Is Daniel a noodle head?

A: No. Noodlehead is one of our cats. She is tabby and white and looks skeptical a lot, like this:
Full-face portrait of a tabby and white cat.  Her chin, whisker pads, and chest are all white, and the rest of her bits are tabby; but there is a loop of white that outlines her nose.

Daniel is 6’4″, not tabby at all, and also not a cat. Sometimes, he has a chicken on his head:
Daniel with his eyes closed and a Mona Lisa smile on his face.  There is a small stripey adolescent chicken standing on his head.

You can see it’s not terribly difficult to tell the two apart.

21 March, 2011

Multi-pet management

So these days we’re up to four dogs and five cats. This can make it a little bit tricky to make sure everyone’s needs are getting met, and leads to some creative management processes.

Cats have been the biggest area of concern. Rooney Lee has to be kept from eating kibble as it makes him projectile vomit, Braxton Bragg (aka Braximus Maximus Caesar) and the tabby girls (Noodlehead and Emmaline) must be kept from getting fat, and Aida the Small Angry Siamese must be kept from getting too thin. This is all quite an adventure as you might imagine.

The original method was to lock Roo in my room with his food and leave food for the other cats down while I was at work. The advent of Daniel meant that the cat kibble was getting picked up earlier because there is only so much desolate howling from Roo that Daniel can take. But under these methods, Aida kept just barely enough weight on to stay alive, while Braximus Maximus Caesar put on a small squishy gut.

The current method involves locking Roo in the crate we purchased for Juniper, which is still set up in the living room, with his ground raw food. Aida gets her very own bowl of kibble and another bowl with wet food in it and is locked into my room. Brax and the tabby girls get their own bowls of kibble in Daniel’s room, which can be picked up when Roo wakes from his post-breakfast nap and begins to whine to get out of the crate. Aida has been gaining weight at a steady, healthy pace since we started giving her “spa days” by herself, and is licking both bowls clean on a regular basis. Huzzah!

Meanwhile Roo’s food has been an adventure in itself, we recently upped him to 50 grams per meal (100 grams per day) because 45 grams per meal of rabbit made him whine obnoxiously from hunger for hours on end. We’ve also rotated, in the natural course of things, to duck for his food, and on the duck his coat has grown super-soft and extra-wavy. His ears and toes are also cleaner. So we’re thinking that the best thing to do is to eliminate the rabbit, which leaves Roo on a diet of chicken, turkey, pheasant, duck, and goose.

In dog news, it’s a struggle to get Sid to eat for some reason. He’s just not enthused about his food, and it worries me since he’s a growing boy. We’ve tried switching brands, garnishing the food with everything from water to an egg, feeding him in a crate, out of a crate, in a different crate, feeding him by hand. We’ve tried four different brands of food to date. Nothing reliably gets the boy to eat, and it drives me absolutely nuts.

5 January, 2011

She’s a real Noodlehead

It’s been a while since we brought Noods into the house. After her very, very dramatic first entry months and months ago, where she panicked and tried to climb the bathroom walls to escape, I was expecting a lot more drama. But she’s actually been the easiest integration, once she made up her mind to come inside. She doesn’t pick fights with anyone, she doesn’t attack the dogs, she just does her thing. She’s pretty definite about when she wants to be snuggled and when she wants to be petted and when she does not, and ignoring her when she tells you she does not want contact is a quick way to wind up bleeding, but all things considered, she’s really no trouble at all.

Unlike Emmaline, who is still periodically really, really violent with other cats and even with dogs. Sigh. We’ve come to the conclusion that Emmaline just Does Not Like to Share. Also after much discussion, we’ve come to the conclusion that Noodlehead will be staying here. Emms is a question mark, though, with her unpredictably violent episodes she’s not the greatest candidate for life in a busy household like this one. So at some point here I will probably be looking to find her a place where there are, at least, fewer critters she has to share her things with.

It’s hard, these decisions. I try to keep reminding myself that every permanent cat is one fewer rescue slot, and that furthermore Emms would be a lot happier with a quieter, less populated place, but I’m quite fond of the little bugger even if she does go all berserker from time to time.

Meanwhile her sister Noodlehead spends the vast majority of her time on the heated cat bed in my work room, with periodic forays to demand petting and snuggling. She’s even snuggling with dogs, for serious, in the past 24 hours she’s cuddled up to both Tink and Beowulf. Some kitties, I guess, were just meant to be here.

4 January, 2011

I got 99 problems…

…they are all Tink.

This is only funny if you know the song by rap artist Jay-Z. Ahem.

So we have Noodlehead and Juniper inside. They are NEW AND FASCINATING CATS. Tink has a thing, you see. Cats she has lived with for a while, these are OLD AND BORING CATS. Tink can successfully ignore Roo, Brax, Aida, and even Emmaline, although mostly she ignores Emms because of catching claws to the nose one too many times.

Noods and Junie, though, my God. Tink is FASCINATED. She wants to follow them around staring at them. She wants to sniff their butts intrusively. She wants to sniff their ears even more intrusively than their butts. I do not know what it is about Tink and ears, but she has this fixation.

So a lot of the day goes like this:
Juniper: *enters room*
Tink: O HAI NEW AND FASCINATING CAT!
Juniper: MY GOD I JUST GOT A GIANT NOSE UP THE BUTT!
Me: Tink, leave it.
Tink: BUTBUTBUT CAT!
Me: I don’t care. Leave it.
Tink: BUT CAT!
Juniper: THAT TONGUE JUST TOUCHED MY BRAIN!
Tink: I LOVE YOU NEW CAT!
Juniper: I WILL KILL YOU WITH DEATH AND FIERCE!
Tink: HEEEEE! LITTLE CAT TRIED TO KILL ME!
Me: I said LEAVE IT.
Tink: Fine.
Five minutes: *passes*
Noodlehead: *enters room*
Tink: O HAI NEW AND FASCINATING CAT!
Noodlehead: I will kick your ass.
Me: Tink, she will kick your ass.
Tink: SHE WON’T I LOVE HER.
Noodlehead: I mean it. Ass-kicking in 10…9….8…
Me: Tink, leave it, seriously, you’re going to lose an eye.
Tink: THEY’RE NOT MUCH USE ANYWAY I WANT TO LICK HER EARS.
Me: Tink, I said lea–
Noodlehead: DIE WITH DEATH AND CLAWS AND TEETH INFIDEL.
Tink: *with bleeding nose* Maybe I should have thought that one through…

17 December, 2010

It lives!

Sorry for the long hiatus, a combination of the dreaded FINALS WEEK plus chronic pain problems (which I am finally seeing a doc for, but which are probably not anything curable, just manageable) have kept me from having extra time and energy. But here is an omnibus update!

1) Juniper: still the cutest kitten ever. He’s gotten somewhat less laid-back now that he’s been dewormed. His favorite toy is a brown stuffed mouse we found on clearance at PetCo. He beats it up, he carries it around, he growls and prepares to throw down with other cats who so much as look at his stuffymouse. I’m waiting to hear back from his potential new home, but have high hopes he will be moving on to his Forever Home come January when we get him neutered!

2) Noodlehead: She came inside, as I mentioned! And she is having a good ol time hanging out and being warm and safe in the bathroom. She deeply prefers Daniel to me, though, as my bloody finger will attest. Any guys out there who would like a tabby and white girl of uncommon charm to share the couch with?

3) IT SNOWED YESTERDAY. 3″ of the stuff. The county hasn’t bothered to clear the road, so here I am at home. No one is happy about the snow but Zille. The chickens are DEEPLY disapproving and despite the fact that we did MacGyver a roof onto their pen, they are spending most of the time either on their house or under it (when they’re not eating). Matilda is producing about an egg a week, which has brought our egg cost down to $29.02 per egg. I am able to be this precise because I set up a new and shinier egg cost spreadsheet, which debits the chickens for the cost of their feed and the cost of eggs we have had to buy since their production slowed, but credits them for the market value of cage-free eggs for the ones they have laid.

…yes, I am a dork, why do you ask?

4) Christmas shopping is pretty much done, we were able to use the best discount codes so buying the gifts wasn’t so bad, and next week we get to see our friends Kate and Loiosh when they stop by on their own Holiday Odyssey! And then they will come back through on their way home. We are excited. Incidentally, Kate is having a Christmas Sale! You have four days left to order before Christmas if you see something you like!

5) My quest for The Perfect Leash continues. I just ordered a custom multi-function leash with integrated limited-slip collar from Bold Lead Designs. It will work for both Zille and Beowulf, and if it is half as good as I suspect it will be, then I’ll probably order another one that will fit Tink. Is there anything better than a cool new leash? I think not.

6) Daniel will hopefully have his green card soon, yay!

9 December, 2010

How nice of you to join us, or: Noodlehead continues feline tradition of being inconvenient.

Long-time gentle readers may recall that Noodlehead was the fourth adult cat I attempted to bring inside, the one who shook my confidence. I’d successfully brought in and placed three girls, all of whom were easy-peasy, so why would this stripey tabby and white girl be any different?

Hahahahaha.

When I brought Noodlehead into the bathroom, she commenced to attempt to climb the walls to find her way out. I managed to get her toweled and get her back outside, where she regarded me with deep and unpleasant suspicion for the next two weeks before giving birth to a couple stillborn kittens. Sigh.

In the long months since that abortive attempt, though, Noodlehead has been more and more interested in the inside of the house, especially as the weather has gotten colder. She’s also gotten more and more sociable, hanging around while we did chickenstuff and loitering outside the fence to watch us play fetch with Zille and chase with the Dobermans. She’s demanded petting, she’s asked to be picked up and snuggled.

Tonight, she finally walked into the house on her own power, and is now installed in the bathroom with a comfy bed, some wet food, water, and a litter box. Of course, Juniper WAS occupying the bathroom, because Emmaline wants him dead. Juniper is now occupying our bedroom. This is going to cause entertainment at bedtime, as Tink and Roo are accustomed to occupying the bedroom and having the door closed may cause Drama. We’ll figure something out. But at this point, there is officially No Room At The Inn.

I suspect there is little chance of placing Noodlehead, but I may be wrong. She is charming as hell but very much wants things on HER terms, and she is fairly nondescript in looks. The world is full of nondescript tabby-and-white cats with attitude. It may be that we now have five cats. I’m kind of OK with that, although, y’know, if you look at the little stripey face on the right and think to yourself “Self, that is exactly the cat I have been searching for!” then hit me up, yeah? She is going to get vetted and spayed before she goes anywhere, though.

16 November, 2010

THERE IS AN EGG.

Yesterday was a rough day at work. I had a long meeting. Like, 0900 to 1520 long meeting. That’s 9am to 3:20pm for my gentle readers who do things in civilian time.

And then I came home, about half an hour late. My best beloved had made fresh bread and I had a slice with honey and butter. We then went out to see the chickens, since odds are good I will not see much of chickens this winter unless I go out ASAP upon arriving home. I poked around in their pen, checked food levels, and glanced into their house. The straw lining the nest boxes had been violently disarranged. Daniel disavowed all knowledge of straw rearrangement, so I checked the nest boxes.

Gentle readers, there were eggs! One of them had a dent and crack in it, so I split it open and tossed it to the chickens, who were thrilled beyond belief to have an egg to eat. Chickens, as it turns out, are slightly creepy and cannibalistic. Noodlehead, who accompanied us out to see the chickens, also disapproved. She felt that fresh eggs were better off as the food of cats, not chickens.

The other egg, though, was smooth and perfect and a warm peachy brown. Behold:
An egg, slightly longer and thinner than your average commercial egg, but smooth and glossy and perfect, rests on a bed of dark blue cloth.

This, gentle readers, is an egg free of exploitation. No human beings braved the ammonia and feather-dust filled chicken barns for this egg. No chicken spent her life in a tiny, over-crowded space, away from the sun and breeze and bugs to peck for this egg. This here is a guilt-free morsel of proteiny goodness.

It’s times like this that I feel so blessed to be able to have this life, seriously. I mean, yeah, jobs suck and if someone would like to make me independently wealthy so I could stay home all day making soap and spinning yarn and knitting and watching my chickens, that’d be great. But at the moment, I’m just deeply grateful that I have the Manor, and now the Manor has provided an egg.

Incidentally, I’m also keeping track of egg cost on a spreadsheet, amortizing the cost of our chicken set-up over the number of eggs we get. I didn’t include labor costs, some of the labor for the chicken run was a wedding present (as were the chickens!) and I’m choosing to call our own labor free. Even cheating like that, though… this is an $800 egg. Heh. Lesson learned: you don’t get backyard chickens for the cheap eggs.

28 September, 2010

Game-scouting camera: coolest invention ever.

The camera works fantastically but heavy rain has kept my primitive satellite internet from staying up long enough to get the best of yesterday’s pics uploaded last night. Flickr Uploadr is working them now, and I have made myself mildly late for my morning routine to post them just for you!. You can see the night-time pics are all grainy black and white, but they do show you a nice view of the plastic pan lid that serves as a water dish, the aluminum pan that holds the dry cat food, and the legs of the rocking chair and the regular chair, plus the little table the food pan sits under. All that stuff is sitting about six feet away from the camera.

A grainy black and white photograph.  A tabby and white cat, Noodlehead, stands with body three quarters to the camera but face directly pointed at it.  Because she's too close, the infrared flash has blown out all detail of her face and chest except her eyes with their enormous pupils.

I’m not sure what attracted Noodlehead’s attention; the camera makes no noise but does have the infrared flash on it as well as a blinking red LED and a green LED that lights steady when it’s taking a picture. It clearly didn’t startle any of the animals, there were four separate possum incidents and a raccoon as well as Noodlehead, Grace, and Briar Rose. What I find kind of neat is that their eyes brilliantly reflect the infrared flash, just as you’d expect with a regular flash.

First Possum:
First Possum.  A skinny possum walks under a rocking chair, stretching its pointy nose to the aluminum cake pan full of dry cat food.

Raccoon:
A skinny coon stands next to the feeding dish, looking just over the camera's left shoulder, as it were.

Second Possum, affectionately named “Pudgy Possum” because he’s clearly been nomming quite a bit of cat food:
A fat possum wanders away from the camera, body at a three quarters angle to the camera.  Be grateful I didn't upload all the pictures of possum butt that the camera got in the half hour he was on the porch eating.

Third Possum:
A skinny possum approaches the feeding dish from underneath the rocking chair.

Fourth Possum, note Noodlehead in the background:
A very nice profile shot of a possum headed toward the camera with head turned to keep one eye on Noodlehead, who has evidently just told the possum to get off her porch and stop eating her food.

Five Oh Five Feeding Time:
A woman in a robe, pajamas, and an ankle brace, seen from the waist down as she crouches on the porch to put wet cat food on a plate.  She is just completing a pet on Grace, who is eating from the plate but is mostly unseen due to Noodlehead being in the way.  That's me!

Grace notices the camera:
Grace, a mostly grey and yellow tortoiseshell cat with a little white, crouches at the wet food plate (hidden behind the water dish) and looks straight at the camera, eye lasers engaged.

5 September, 2010

Manor cats update

Grace is no longer nursing and her milk has dried up. Since I never saw her kittens, I don’t know what happened to them.

Briar Rose is still full of milk, and therefore skinny as a rail and hungry all the time. I only see her early in the morning at feeding time. I’m kind of hoping when Daniel is here all the time, he’ll see her more often and can work on socializing her while I’m at work, to make it more likely that she’ll bring us the kittens.

Noodlehead continues to camp out at the Manor, and indeed spends a lot of time hanging out in the fence which is slightly nerve-wracking on weekends. During the week it’s a clever move for her; the roaming dogs of the neighborhood can’t get in there to bother here and there’s lizards and bugs to hunt to supplement the wet and dry food I give her.

I thought I saw Dreadnought the other morning. Hard to tell in the dark, though. I hope it was him, and that he didn’t die after I took Emmaline.

The toms have been mostly MIA now that the girls are no longer in heat (o please let us be done with pregnancy for the year). I suspect they’re coming up when I’m not around, they never have been as social as the girls.

25 August, 2010

Feline Politics

Who wants an update on the adult manor cats? I really need to get pics of them but it is difficult. Previously I had thought Grace and Briar Rose, the two calicos, were afraid of me, but since Emmaline has moved inside, Grace and Briar Rose have both been up to solicit attention as well as get the gooshyfuds. Seeing how aggressive Emmaline is toward other cats, I have to wonder if they weren’t actually afraid of Emms.

Efforts to integrate Emmaline into the house are still going very poorly. She just will not share food or even food spots with other cats but instead charges them and starts swinging. I have also tried and tried to get new pics of her, but it’s difficult to do because she is so full of love for people that you can’t get far enough away to get a shot. While her sons may have gotten their coats and colors from their fathers, they clearly got their loveable and loving natures (and also the auto-purr on petting) from their mother.

Meanwhile, I still haven’t confirmed Briar Rose is nursing; she’s not quite friendly enough to let me get a look at her tummy. Grace definitely is, and Noodlehead definitely is not. We’ll see if Grace brings her kittens to me when she’s ready to get rid of them, and if I can work my deferalification magic on this batch, too. Fingers crossed!

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