Cats by Number

by Cedar & Sage Farm | Dec 03, 2017 | The Farm

Who knew that living on a farm would come with so many lessons? Sure, it makes sense that there would be a lot to learn, but it’s the little things that keep blowing my mind. One of the first things we decided we needed when we moved here was a couple of barn kitties. This seemed simple and practical and was a reasonable distraction to the many other animal choices being thrown out on week one (think reindeer and buffalo).

 

So, the very first week we arrived, we found a couple of kittens. This was a bad scene that later involved me bringing home one and a half kittens as the one was so tiny and sick I couldn’t possibly leave it there. Needless to say, all the love, money thrown at the vet, and tears couldn’t save the little guy. He became our farm’s first barn casualty.

 

Andrew and I cried our faces off burying this kitten in the field after dark as the kids slept unknowingly. We were devastated and clearly naive about what was to come in the cat world.

 

Over the coming months we replaced the kitty with two more kittens, and we had our first trio of roaming kittens. We named them Oats, Hops and Barley and the kids spent countless hours loving on these cuddly mousers. But over time (and not much time at all), they started to disappear. We were cautious and only let them out during the day and only when they were big enough, but it didn’t seem to matter.

 

One kitten was so mild and friendly that we couldn’t bare to subject him to the ‘wild,’ so we gave him to a family who we know still adores him (save one for the cats). But, the others were just not making it.

 

As time went on, it seemed we were bringing home new cats to replace missing ones on a constant basis. The kids were starting to distance themselves from them and taking bets on who would be the next to get hunted down by the ‘evil predator that lurks.’ I started to feel horribly guilty about the mass casualty that it seemed I was supporting and started to wonder whether we were irresponsible.

 

Our daughter had made a sign when we first arrived with the kitty’s names on it (and a few other barn friends), and she was fast running out of room to write new names. It was then that it dawned on us that we truly did need these mousers for the barn, but we had to find a way to have the kids get less attached.

We thought that we should start calling the cats by their number of taking up residence at the farm. Everyone was on board, but our daughter. She continued to name them and then come to terms with them vanishing.

 

A few months ago we were once again down to one cat (he is a survivor – or at least we hope); he has been at the farm for over a year and is a rodent-killing machine! But, he was lonely. So, we started to talk about getting him a buddy.

By coincidence, a lady that we had sold a bunny to called to ask us if we would be interested in a mama cat and her litter of kittens (it seemed she was growing by cats at her place as fast we were losing them). At first, the idea of getting a litter of 5 kittens and a mom seemed like a lot of cats! But, as we started to look at the reality of the situation, we realized that we had no guarantees how many would survive the apparent rough and wild terrain of our farm. So, we went and picked up this green-eyed pure black cat and her kittens.

 

They were barn cats and we were crossing everything that they all had the instinct to survive and hunt. We kept the barn’s cat doors locked for months while they grew and got accustomed to their new home and then we took the plunge to open the doors. Low and behold, we still have ALL five kittens months later… But, mama disappeared weeks ago.

So, when the neighbor called to ask if we were missing a friendly little black cat, we were thrilled! He brought her over while I made dinner and Andrew and the kids got her settled into the barn. Andrew couldn’t stop talking about how glad he was that Cole was back.

 

As soon as I saw ‘Cole,’ I was pretty confident that there had been a mistake, but Andrew and our daughter were cuddling and loving on her so much, I didn’t have the heart to question it…until I just had to say something!

So, last night when I came in from doing chores, I started to ask some questions about this much friendlier, smaller, rounder, yellow-eyed version of Cole, who hates her children. They looked at each other and said: “yah, I was wondering why she was so nice she must just really like it here.”

 

So, it seems it doesn’t matter whether you are named or numbered, ours or not. If you are a kitty, you have a place here without judgment for as long as you’d like, or until whatever it is that is eating cats around these parts gets you.

Meet Ashleigh

I have somehow been blessed beyond measure; I am married to a wonderful guy who shares in the great joy of raising our three amazing children. We recently picked up and left the city to follow our hearts, with the intention for a more simple and natural lifestyle. Both my husband and I are native Calgarians who have always been awed with the wonder of looking out at the Rocky Mountains. For us, transplanting into the foothills just made sense and we couldn’t wait to get here. It wasn’t until I was removed from the hurry of the city; that I was able to settle into my purpose and accept and celebrate the things that make me happy. Combining my love for bringing life into a neglected space, and filling it with a marriage of old and new, has enabled me to take on the challenge of rebirthing this 1980’s farmhouse. Being able to do this from home, while tackling the daily chores of caring for our farm animals is pure bliss and sits comfortably in my heart. I am chomping at the bit (along with our horses…) to continue to watch the evolution of our space take shape… And I can’t wait to fill this home with love, memories and the smell of Sunday dinners for years to come. I believe that the greatest gift in life is family, and I have been placed amongst a beautiful tribe (my late grandfather’s endearing term for our extended family). I yearn to give my children and their friends a place to melt away from the hustle; in a comfortable and pretty space, which I hope can be a refuge from a complicated and sometimes messy world. Although this move and new direction was not written down in my master plan (and I am a list and plan girl through and through), I am thrilled that the happenings which brought us here have unraveled just the way they did. I have dedicated this year to being grateful for our many gifts while also accepting my limitations with grace and courage. In addition to my home and family, I love camping, iced tea, Volkswagens and a good book… in no particular order. I hope you can find inspiration, relatability or even just a good laugh by following my blog posts as I figure out just what will unfold next.