Archive for July, 2009

Daisy Doodle, Little Poodle

July 31, 2009
This is Daisy Doodle, she's a little poodle.  Catchy, huh?

This is Daisy Doodle, she's a little poodle. Catchy, huh?

Daisy was my mother’s dog.  My brother and his wife took care of Daisy during Mom’s declining years and after Mom died.  I got Daisy in December 2004.  We think her mother was a poodle, and her father was a traveling salesman.

This dog is apparently going to live forever.  No one really knows how old she is, and Daisy’s not talking.  For 5 years I’ve been saying that she’s about 17.  Every year, I say she’s 17, because honestly, how can she really be 21 or 22 and still look this good?  It defies imagination.  She’s the best little dog, ever.  She hardly even barks, except when she decides it’s time to come back in, and her funny little bark sounds like a duck, if a duck could bark.  Try it, you know you want to make the sound.  Quark, quark.

She has her own song.  Yes, I made it up.  She’s a little Daisy doodle, she’s a little pretty poodle.  Doodle, doodle, doo-dle, she is Daisy do.  She’s a pretty poo.  And we love her too.  Doodle, doodle, do.

Stop laughing and start singing.  This is serious art.

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Black Swamp Plantation

July 31, 2009
The steps of the Black Swamp Plantation house

The steps of the Black Swamp Plantation house

There’s a set of brick steps standing alone at the edge of a field.  It’s all that is left of a plantation known as Black Swamp Plantation.  Sherman’s army captured Savannah, then turned and headed into South Carolina, burning everything in their path.  The steps are a mute testament to a different day and time.  The steps lead nowhere, like the local economy and opportunity.  No one disturbs the steps, but each time I visit there, the old bricks have become more crumbled, and the lizards and snakes whirl away when I approach in summertime.   

Catkin & Catnip

July 29, 2009
Catkin & Catnip on the morning of their release 1/25/2008

Catkin & Catnip on the morning of their release 1/25/2008

Here are two girls that came from a local McDonald’s.  They were trapped individually in a Havahart trap, then spayed, vaccinated, and released.  They were the beginnings of my feral cat project.  Little Catnip in the rear was so afraid – feral cats don’t like to be exposed in the daytime.  Catkin was less feral – she might have belonged to someone once.  At any rate, she was still wild, but she sat up straight and posed for the camera.  I have since trapped her again twice when trying to catch other local wild cats.  The last time I saw her, she was completely feral, which is a good thing.  Her chances of encountering a potentially dangerous domestic element, like a car or a dog, are almost nil.  I’m always happy to see her.  It proves to me that feral cats can survive magnificently with a little assistance.

Catkin & Catnip are transported in a time machine to the new colony

Catkin & Catnip are transported in a time machine to the new colony

Here they are in the van on the way to their new home in the woods.  I wonder what it must be like for aliens to scoop you up, keep you in cages, probe you with metal devices, then let you go safe and sound and healthy.  I personally do not think it sounds like fun.

Miz Florrie

July 28, 2009
The birthday girl

The birthday girl

Here’s my friend Miz Florrie.  She had a birthday on February 2, but she is not a groundhog.  She lives in Garnett, SC, and celebrated her 96th birthday this year. 

Miz Florrie remembers so many things about the area, and what it was like before the highways came through, and how the area has changed.  Like, years ago, if you wanted to get to Savannah, you had to cross the Savannah River by boat in an area called the Sand Hills. 

She reminds me of my grandmothers, both very tough and uncomplaining and long-lived.  You gotta love Miz Florrie.

Here's her I.D.

Here's her I.D.

Wild Wilbur from the woods

July 28, 2009
Wilbur gave me the willies

Wilbur gave me the willies

This is Wilbur in the woods (sounds like we are studying the letter “W”).  Wilbur had been hanging out in the general area outside the fence, never close enough for me to get a good look at him.  The dogs had seen him so much they finally stopped barking at him.  “Hey, it’s a cat-burglar.  Watch me bark!!  Oh, false alarm.  It’s just Wilbur.  Everybody go back to sleep…”
During the daytime, I tried to get a picture of him, Mr. Black-and-white elusive cat.  He cooperated by walking away and giving me a good shot of his hind-quarters.  Finally, one night I went to the woods with the camera.  I got this lovely shot of him before he gave me the hind-quarters pose. 
Anyway, while I was away in NY, the dogs were kenneled, and a friend was manning the cat station.  Apparently while I was gone, the cats were making a video called “Cats Gone Wild”.  The first day back, before the dogs returned from the kennel, I was sitting in the yard talking on the cell-phone to my daughter (yes, I’m one of those people who has to go outside to talk on the cell phone.) and Mr. Black-and-white cat comes strolling thru the yard like HE’S on vacation.  (I capitalize “HE” in the middle of a sentence for my niece Kari.)  He gave me a bad look and kept walking.  The next day he was in the shed, milling around with the other cats and the dogs.  The day after that he brushed up against my leg, and I took the opportunity to scruff him and stuff him into a carrier.  After a trip to the veterinary clinic and day spa, he returned, minus his cookies.  I released him at the cat station.  He shimmied under the gate back to the shed. 
He spends his time there, perched up high on some bookcases, coming down for food and other necessities.
No more Wilbur in the Woods.  He’s onto a good thing.

It’s like beating a dead horse

July 26, 2009
The cat station in the woods

The cat station in the woods

Here’s the finished version of the latest cat feeding station, completed 5/26/2009.  This is the 3rd in the series that began in January 2008.  The first one featured an old desk made of composition board, and over the last year it has crumbled considerably.  This latest one is an amalgamation of several components.  We started with a folding table of sorts.  The table is made of  two thicknesses of plywood and a set of folding legs.  It is quite sturdy, so it was relatively easy to add some upright supports and a roof.  The blue and white cooler holds bags of cat food and also serves as a launching pad for cats to get to the feeding area.  The small A-frame station to the left served as an intermediate station when the first station began to crumble until a better structure could be built.  The entire area is surrounded by fencing with openings cut throughout the perimeter to allow for easy entrance and exit.  I have since added another feeder and a water dispenser. 
I don’t tell people, when I first get to know them, that I feed feral cats.  People generally glaze over and look at me like I’ve just announced that some cattle are coming over for tea.  I’ve had all the cats altered and vaccinated, and they live in the woods in and around the area.  Some of the cats are so feral that I’ve never seen them again after releasing them.  They originated in various and sundry places, like behind restaurants, hanging out at dumpsters, or colonies that were scheduled for euthanization.  All “my” ferals are either ear-notched or ear-tipped as a way of identifying that they are feral and are fixed and most likely belong to a colony.
I’ve found that the local cats don’t mind a free meal either.  Sometimes I see a cat I can’t identify, and I assume it to be a stray, or perhaps a local cat that has a home but enjoys an occasional meal at the neighborhood diner.  If it’s someone I don’t know, I’ll attempt to trap them for a visit to the vet for altering.  After surgery and recovery, I’ll release them back at the cat station.  It’s a process called “TNR” – trap, neuter, return. 
It’s good to have altered cats in the neighborhood.  I never worry about snakes or rodents, but I suppose I’ll never be able to start a chicken ranch.  There’s another component of having a managed colony.  If all the cats in a colony were removed, a little issue called the “vacuum effect” would kick in.  More cats arrive to fill in the vacuum that was created. 
I’m always surprised when I see a new face at the feeding station.  How can there be this many cats in this little area?  Shouldn’t I know everyone by now?  The cats are free to come and go.  It’s not like I fence them in.  They have learned to respect each other’s space, and when one or two cats are feeding, others that arrive wait for them to finish, and they all manage to take turns throughout a 24 hour period. 
So yesterday I had the most amazing surprise near the cat station.  I smelled an odor wafting near the RV.  It was the odor when the electricity fails and the meat in the freezer spoils.  But I don’t have any meat in refrigeration and the electricity has not been off.  I went off into the woods in search of the origin.  About 20 feet from the cat station was the spoiling remains of a cat carcass.  And I do not know who it was. 
Is my lot now like the mythical elephant graveyard?  Do cats make their way there to die?  I suppose it’s as near to heaven on earth as a cat can get, close to food and water and safety and peace. 

A mystery

July 24, 2009
The intruder left tracks

The intruder left tracks

When the concrete floor for the shed was installed, the windows were left open for the air to circulate.  When I got home that evening, I found that someone had gotten into the shed and left footprints.  I asked all the animals who could have done this.  No one would admit guilt.

Georgia especially would not admit guilt

Georgia especially would not admit guilt

Georgia is the most curious, but she was adamant that she was not guilty.  Her body language said otherwise.

They always return to the scene of the crime

They always return to the scene of the crime

 Crime does not pay.

Neither teenage nor mutant nor ninja…

July 23, 2009
Kyle out for a morning stroll

Kyle out for a morning stroll

Two weeks ago I acquired, by default, a box turtle.  Some nice tourist folks saved Mr./Ms. Turtle from a parking lot and named him/her Kyle.  They called around to the area vet’s offices, and so now Kyle lives at my place in the woods.  He has his own special yard safe from clumsy dogs and curious cats.  His yard faces east, which is what box turtles are supposed to need according to the internet, and has a shallow watering hole, a ramp for sunning, and sandy soil for digging, with lots of leaf debris. 

Kyle has basically been in hiding for two weeks.  He seemed to enjoy digging under the ramp.  This morning, when I went outside to feed him, I caught him sunning in his watering hole.  By the time I got the camera, he was out of the water and heading for the food. 

You are not supposed to remove a wild turtle from its area.  But Kyle’s area was full of cars, and he had been recently damaged.  There’s a piece of shell missing along the edge above his right front leg, and there’s old damage to the back left edge of the shell, and there’s what looks to be a repaired crack along the top of his shell.  He’s possibly about ten years old, and could live for a very long time. 

I hope he likes cats.

Kit Knits

July 21, 2009
Cali is exhausted after knitting all night to meet her deadline

Cali is exhausted after knitting all night to meet her deadline

These inspectors cannot be bought

July 21, 2009
Mr. Packett and Cali are hard at work

Mr. Packett and Cali are hard at work

Mr. Packett was a stray.  He now works as a building inspector.  In the background you can see our golden ride, the RV that goes nowhere.  Mr. Packett and Cali inspected the construction of the shed.  The shed is 12′ x 20′ which is actually bigger than Thoreau’s house in the woods at Walden Pond.  I store remnants of past lives in the shed, and the shed also serves as a construction experiment for site orientation.