The other night, as I was picking dried poop off of a baby chick’s rear end (whereupon it immediately pooped on me), my husband remarked how country living isn’t always what it seems. We had just had several families out for the day and the kids ran around looking at all of the animals and running all over the place. Here was some hatching eggs, there was a brooder full of adorable baby chicks. Over here, you can pet some baby rabbits, over there, you can feed the chickens. But, what people don’t get to see is the day to day upkeep and maintenance as well as the issues that pop up from time to time around a farm.
Those cute baby chicks have to be checked on a few times a day to check for ‘pasty butt’ ….an actual situation which requires me to wash off/pick off baby chick poo on their hind end so that they can keep on going Number 2 without getting ‘backlogged’. I have to watch for egg picking and eating in the big chicken coop, as well as watch out for any sign of predation or disease. We went through a six week patch of avian pox (amazingly NOT called ‘chicken pox’) with the chickens and ended up losing two of my roosters. One of my cockatiels in my aviary got a little down and stopped eating the other day, so I had to separate her and medicate her. My baby bunnies got diarrhea after my kids fed them a huge handful of weeds. Once again, I became the resident ‘Poo Picker’ and had to clean bunny poo off of a couple of unwilling patients. (they’re now used to weeds; it just takes some time) A few weeks back, we lost my oldest duck and the unsinkable Wayward Jones, presumably to a stray dog, when they both hopped over the fence.
This morning, Jason called to tell me that he had found Garfield in the road, limp and still warm. I had only seen him close to the road once, last year, and after the way I went screaming and running at him like an absolute madwoman I thought that surely he’d never attempt that again. You’d think that fences and gates would mean something , but sometimes they just don’t. And, I am not one of those people that believe in keeping an animal indoors 100% of the time. In fact, I think it’s just plain ridiculous. It makes as much sense to me as people who never go outside…and frankly, that scares me.
If you have read older posts, you will remember that he is our furry alarm clock cat that always managed to beat Jason to the bathroom. Garfield enjoyed sunning in the front garden and following us all over the place. We’d let him out in the morning with the dogs, weather permitting, and bring him in before we left the house and at nightfall. He was always where we were and usually either curled up at our feet or in a chair, or meowing to let us know about whatever was aggravating him at the moment. Usually, it was because the food in his dish was more than five minutes old. Last Friday night (more accurately, Saturday morning), at 3:30 a.m., he let out an extremely loud “MEEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWW” which woke both me and Jason up out of a dead sleep. We both thought we were dreaming until we realized that surely it wasn’t possible that both of us were simultaneously dreaming about a screaming cat. I suppose that Garfield felt neglected or he felt that his food was unpalatable after sitting out since about 8 p.m. and wanted to let us know about it.
And that’s really the last story that I have to tell you about “Jason’s ‘Furson'”.
I could tell you about how, yesterday, I almost took a picture of him as he was in his typical upside-down, on-his-back position while napping on his favorite chair, his paws curled up on his chest and chin stuck up in the air. Or how a couple of days ago, he and both of the small dogs were all three curled up in a single chair without an inch to spare. Or how he meowed at us most every time he saw us…telling us with his funny flat face and round orange eyes how inadequate we were as cat owners. Or how his fur looked as though it was glowing at dusk each day in an impossibly fluorescent shade of orange. Or how, one day, as I was explaining to the kids what ‘felting’ was, I took some of his fur we had just combed out and, rubbing it together, made a weird orange felt ‘ball’ and laughed at the idea of ‘cat felt’.
But today, I am telling you how I cried when I looked in the litterbox and realized this would be the last time I’d get to scoop his poop.
I never thought I’d ever miss scooping cat poop.
I looked at the cat dish (still half-full with cat kibble…unpalatable to his standards, I am sure) and realized how I would never again hear his signature meow or see him stretch up to claw the crap out of the edge of my cabinet as he always did when I scooped out fresh food. I’ll miss the way he always ran in front of us, somehow usually managing to cause one of us to stumble in the process, his fluffy orange striped tail flicking in cat laughter at us. I’ll miss the hairballs drifting across my living room floor like tiny orange tumbleweeds. I’ll even miss the early morning caterwauling. I”ll miss poking fun at him in our best British voices. I am positive that if he could have, he would have had a monocle and a top hat and have a British accent and speak to us with sheer disapproval at our lackluster attempts at ‘cat parenting’.
The problem with pets is that you are opening yourself up to something that, in all likelihood, you will outlive even at their full life expectancy. What makes it worse is that it is very easy to get attached to such a creature. Especially a charismatic cat.
Country life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, it’s just plain damn hard.