Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cats, Raccoons and BATS, Oh My!

It was Sunday night, and I stepped out onto the front porch in the dark, looking at the bright moonlight and the moon shadows all around.  Then I heard this odd squealing and squeaking, an animal in distress.  I asked Becca to hurry outside with me to check on the Americaunas, because the sound came from that direction.  The chickens were fine.  I looked around, but could see nothing moving.  Becca said she saw eyes gleaming in the garden area.  A large animal.  I started over to see what might be there, but she was frightened, because she said it was big - possibly a coyote.  I turned and came inside.  She later heard scratching at the outside of the house, and I figured it was raccoons or Star Kitty.  Monday morning, I discovered I was right.  It was raccoons.  They'd found a trash bag I'd stashed outside to take down to the can the next day and tore into it, in addition to pulling the cover off of the compost bin again.  Wednesday night, I saw one jump out of the compost bin when I came outside.  I'm not too worried about that.  I can easily put the lid back on in the morning, and they don't make a mess in there.

Monday dawned cold and windy, and surprised me with a little bit of rain as I started the morning routine.  I decided to make the pound cake and put two sticks of butter on the counter top to soften so we could make it.  It was well away from the edge, but when we came back inside from evening chores, I noticed one was missing.  There's only one thing that could do that, and apparently Breezy was in such a hurry she even ate the paper on it!  That was the last of the butter, so we had to wait to make the cake until after we went to the store next.

Star Kitty is getting mischievous in his old age.  He's about 10 years old and rules the outside of the house.

He doesn't like dogs much, having had Breezy chase him the same day we brought her home.  (I hate it when people tell me a dog gets along well with cats, and then have that not be true!)  The only time Star has had a recent problem with Breezy was when he sneaked inside the house and she went after him.  I pulled Breezy off, Star ran back outside without any injury, and Breezy's face looked like a pincushion.  Breezy is always on leash outside because she likes to run off.  Duncan is better behaved, so he gets to go outside without his leash.  This means that when Star knows Duncan is coming out, he hides.  Duncan likes to chase cats, too.

Duncan is another dog that I was assured got along well with cats.  I saw him interact with the family cat before we brought him home.  Apparently that cat was grown when Duncan was a puppy, and liked to beat up on him.  So Duncan respected that cat.  He probably developed a resentment toward cats, because he would really prefer to chase them!  He does that every chance he gets, but Star is too fast for him to catch.

Star has started messing around with Breezy when I take her outside.  He used to stroll around about 10 feet away as she did her business, and just watch her.  This drove Breezy crazy and sometimes she wouldn't do what she was supposed to because she was so distracted by the cat.  Recently, Star has started coming closer to Breezy.  Sometimes he'll walk right up to her and touch noses.  Breezy stands there all tense, wanting to chase after him, but knowing that she can't get anywhere.  Wednesday morning, Star did this again.  He walked up to Breezy, touched noses with her, and then walked away.  What he did next had me laughing out loud.  Star walked back up to Breezy, and ... tapped her on the side of the face with his right paw before walking away!  He also likes to taunt her when she's in her outside crate, making her crash against the side and bark loudly, then sauntering away.

Wednesday afternoon, we had plans to meet with a dear friend of mine for lunch and a shopping trip.  I've known her for 22 years, first professionally as staff at opposing counsel's office, and we grew to be friends.  I haven't gotten to see her often enough, and am so happy for our recent reconnection.  She invited us to her beautiful home for lunch and wanted to take Becca on a shopping trip to get new summer clothes.  Since I am still unemployed, she knew that I wouldn't be able to do anything to help Becca this year.  We had a wonderful lunch together, visiting and laughing and cuddling with her sweet cats.  The shopping trip was a blast, and Becca found some really cute clothes that will take her well into school, as well.  Between the two of us, we were able to combine sales with senior discount and a coupon and the total savings was well over 50%.  It was a magical day, and we are so blessed to have her in our lives.  I am really looking forward to seeing her again.  It seems that I always leave wanting more time to talk!

When we got home, Becca hopped out of the car to get the mail.  As I waited for her, I heard a scream.  Sometimes she messes with me, but this time she came running back to the car.  "There is a BAT at the mailbox!!  It hissed at me!!"  I was confused.  A bat?  She was afraid to go back.  I asked her if it was inside the mailbox, and she said no, it's on the ground.  She didn't see it, and accidentally touched it with her foot, and it moved and hissed at her.  I think I would have screamed, too!  I went over to take a closer look, and sure enough, this huge bat was spread-eagled on the ground in front of the mailbox.  It must have been injured, perhaps by a car.  I snapped this picture while Becca pleaded with me not to get too close.

I am making the picture larger so you can see it better.  I've never seen such a large bat in Sonoma County, and it is at least three or four times as big as the little one we found inside our old house.  I very carefully reached around to get the mail out of the box, and texted Bette to warn her so she wasn't surprised when she got her mail.

The garden continues to grow beautifully, and it's exciting to see the tomatoes start to bear fruit.  It was especially exciting to see a glimpse of orange Wednesday night, and know that we'll soon be able to eat these!

Thursday morning was bright and sunny, with the nearly full moon still hanging clearly in the sky.  Lily, the LaMancha goat, has been a real pistol the last few weeks.  While she normally waits for me to pick up her leash after I put Salsa on the milk stand, she has been nibbling at greens and then running away just as I get close to her.  She runs into the large pen with the dwarf goats and then plays keep-away.  Thursday morning was the worst by far.  She was running full speed and playing with Moonshine.  This meant that all four goats were running madly around, jumping up to head butt each other, and then running away from me while I was trying to remove leashes and grab Lily to put her in the other pen.  I eventually got hold of her, but she was such a pill that when I untied the gate, she knocked the post out of my hands.  That meant a section of the fence was flat on the ground, and Moonshine decided that it would be fun to walk out.  So now I have Lily on leash and Moonshine loose.  Because Lily is so much bigger and harder to handle, I decide to put her away and then catch the silly little wether.  By the time I get Lily in, I see that Moony is standing on his hind legs, with his head inside the grain bucket attached to the milk stand in front of Salsa.  I always worry about this because if Salsa tries to head butt him and knocks the milk stand over, she could be seriously injured or killed.  I ran to them to get him away.  He took off running, though luckily toward his pen.  He looked like he was about to take off, so I squatted down and stuck my hand out as if I had something in it.  He came close enough for me to catch, and I was able to put him back inside.  Because the goats are so full of energy, I may go ahead and put them all in the larger pen together today.  Hopefully I can get some video of their antics to share.

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