Sunday, July 17, 2011

Barn Cats in Training

Fred's Farm News

July 17, 2011

By Fred Owens


We got the old rats nest cleaned out of the barn, and we brought the new kittens over to the barn for the first time, just to give them a taste of their new life. One kitten promptly got up on the roof and couldn't figure out how to get down. This is the lively one.

There are two, Tom and Jerry. Tom is kind of dreamy, but Jerry is mad cap. Either way, they came from the same litter and they stick together. I took them to the clinic this morning at the Humane Society to get their first set of shots -- cost $25 each.

I taped a photo of a rat over their food bowl to get them the idea. I want them to go after the rats, but to leave the birds alone.

View Barn Cats in Training
, here at YouTube

The common notion is that cats are difficult and complicated creatures. I quite disagree. Of course, you can train your cat to be a fussy eater with neurotic habits, and they will oblige you by acting so. But I discourage that kind of behavior in my cats. Dinner is dinner and you eat it. Rats are rats and you chase them. Otherwise you can sleep all day. I can't stop you from killing birds, but I will give you a very grim look if you do.

And we will be great friends.....Also I object to the term Mom or Dad used in relation to pets. I am not their Dad. I am their owner or master. You don't have to get your head in a knot over the notion of "owning" a cat. Of course, you don't "own" any animal. All that means is that the cat belongs to me and not to anyone else......It means I am the responsible agent.

Meanwhile, the weather has been cool this week and the dahlias are just poking along -- they look quite healthy, but they are not growing by leaps and bounds. I predict a good crop, but late -- "It could be worse," like they say in Minnesota

Dry and Dusty. I got the job of dust suppression around the property. That's how it works around here, after I complained more than once about the dust -- that means I was appointed to head the committee.

It's not hard work, You take the hose and sprinkle the main paths every few days. Then you hose down the ground in the horses' corral -- that's where most of the dust originates -- the horses kick up some dust and the wind wafts it over to where the dahlias are blooming -- but you can't sell a dusty flower, so I'm out there on hose patrol for the rest of the summer.

People take flowers and don't pay. You know people steal flowers. This is awful. We set out bouquets by the road on an honor system, and some people take the flowers and don't pay. How could that be right?

Sweet Pea Seeds. I'm harvesting sweet pea seeds now - we should have several pounds of dried sweet pea seeds by the time I finish cleaning them -- this is far more than we need for planting next spring, so we will have enough left over to sell them in small packets at the farmers market.

Saving your own seeds is a true source of independent wealth.

I am also going to plant a batch of sweet peas in late August, just to see if we can get a fall crop.

You Could Do Worse, again. Up in Whatcom County in the northwestern corner of Washington state, hard by the Canadian border, and a just a hop from Vancouver, lies the little town of Blaine, where Tara Nelson labored as a journalist at a weekly newspaper, until she was let go this week in a "cost-cutting" measure.

She was the last working reporter in the Puget Sound region. She actually got paid every two weeks.

But we knew it couldn't last. Nobody gets paid anymore in that business.

Gosh, Tara, now you have the freedom to self publish.

What does this have to do with the Fred's Farm News? Everything. I used to be a journalist. There is no work in that field anymore. So now I work on a farm, where there is PLENTY of work. I will never run out of work on a farm -- it can't happen as long as people need to eat.

I invited Tara to come down to Ventura and work with us -- I could ask my boss to give her some kind of room and board arrangement...... This is a pretty good place where I live and work. They treat me nice and the pay isn't bad.

"You could do worse," I say again.

Jewish Life. This has very little to do with the Farm News, but I was immersed in Jewish liturgy last weekend, having attended a Bat Mitzvah at a Conservative Temple in Pasadena. It was the full deal -- a three hour service, all in Hebrew. You need to wear a hat, or yarmulke. Everybody was kind to me. I stood up when they stood up. I sat down when they sat down. And if I got really bored, I could wander out to the lobby for a few minutes while the service continued.

Afterward they served kiddush -- a light buffet lunch -- and we enjoyed ourselves. The rabbi came over and said hello. The parents were very proud. The bat mitzvah girl was my niece, the daughter of my brother Tom. The mother is Jewish so Jordana, their daughter, was raised to be Jewish.

It was a good ceremony, and my brother wrote large checks to cover expenses. Good for you, Tom.

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