You put a *what* through a woodchipper ?

You’re right, Em, it *does* look like we’ve skinned a wookie. Stephen sez, “Mulching with alpaca fibre: organic, environmentally friendly, and it looks like you put an ewok through a woodchipper.”

mulched fruit trees

Following on from the last post, here is Not Kitten (“NK”, and yes she does sometimes sleep inside.):

Not Kitten

And here is Amaya, AKA “Kitten Actual”:


Apologies for the uncorrected white balance…

Who lit the cat-shaped beacon?

We know we are crazy cat people. As soon as you pass 2n cats, that is your fate. It is not even (entirely) our fault, we only had two of our own (Slow Top and Azami), the others were either given to us (Rasputin), rescued off the road (Amaya), or moved in and adopted us (Jake).

But there are always more cats, poking around the periphery, hoping to find a free space.

Last year around this time it was “Mittens”, a black cat with white paws and brisket who would sneak in to steal food. Then she (?) was replaced by the singing cat, a tabby with white paws that would always announce its presence in the house with a series of long meows.

Now we have “Not Kitten.” This is a tabby that, at a distance, looks nearly identical to “Kitten” (Amaya- who I rescued as a kitten from down the road, and who was known as “Roadkill” for her first few weeks). On numerous occasions over the last 2 months we would emerge from the lounge only to see “Not Kitten” scurry across the dining room and down the stairs.

Last night I came in, to find him/her in the dining room, crouched but not running. I approached slowly, and made “hello friend?” chripy noises. And Not Kitten came over and marked my hand. By the time Tam got home s/he was walking around at my feet in the kitchen, demanding attention. Very friendly!

But then Kitten arrived and sent the doppleganger packing.

You are nice and friendly Not Kitten (and also in great shape, no starving feral there!), but the Inn is Full! No more cats allowed!

Bye-bye, 2008

Some photos from the last few days of 2008:

On a walk up the valley:
Out for a walk Curious bovine

Silly Ridill, that’s not your mum !
Melissa is charmed

At the Tinkers and Traders gathering:
the Tarot truck the Smithy Opa is too old for the bouncy castle

The beach was a little farther than we thought, but it was a good walk anyway.
The pohutukawa is called At the shore Ninja Llama FAIL.

Fun in the garden:
How to grow catnip Carrots in love ?

Happy 2009 !

Return of Pharmacopi-cat

Slow Top had a vet appointment on Wednesday. For the last 2 years or so he has been in slow but steady decline. Every time he was weighed, he had lost another 100-150 grams. His eyes were a bit sunken, his coat was getting scruffy, and he was sleeping lots. Between the host of drugs, the new food (switched from Friskies to Iams) and the warm summer weather, he has staged an amazing turn-around. Tam and I had been commenting in the days before the appointment that “it was like the clock had been turned back a few years.”

Indeed it had! In 10 weeks he had gained 900 grams! He is now just over 5 kg, and he has not weighed that much in more than 2 years. He is looking better, and acting much perkier. Many of the old (occasionally annoying) habits are back including demanding to drink out of the sink, and trying to wake us up early so he can get his “special treat” (the jellymeat that conceals his morning pills).

I don’t know if this will extend his life span, but it has ceertainly improved his quality of life immensly, and that really makes it all worth it.

And for those of you back in the US who know Rasputin- would you believe he has become a total lap cat? And a spanking slut. It is all so very wrong. I don’t know if we should blame Bill or karl for the spanking fetish.


Slow is our little drug-kitty.

He has had a heart condition much of his life, and finally went on medications about 8 or 9 years ago (at age 7 or so). More recently his kidneys started to go, so we raised to dosage of his Fortekor, which also helps kidney function. He gets a check up at the vet every 6 months now. On the latest check we discovered a bit of arthritis in the hindquarters, and he is getting hyperthyroid problems. (swollen thyroid, weight loss, plus the blood work came back with elevated thyroid hormones)
Let the parade of drugs commence!

He still gets the Fortekor once a day (which has helped his kidneys, which are now back in the normal range).

Added to that we have the “cat-pep” pills, which are a combination of green-lipped mussel extract, Thiamine, and Taurine. Being made of seafood, there is not problem to get Slow to eat those (twice a day). Those should help with the arthritis.

And then there is the Neomercazole for the thyroid. These pills are “fun”, as you must handle them with gloves! Yikes. Thankfully mixing the pill in a bit of jelly-meat works well, and we have Slow gobbling them down (twice a day).

Yes, Slow now gets 5 pills a day! The Neomercazole is only for a month, then he will get his thyroid tested again, so we can work out if that is the right dosage.

We are going to need to get better presents for our cat sitters in the future!

Handicaps and infirmities

Jake doesn’t let his missing leg slow him down much:

Jake on top of the ladder

Although down is a bit trickier:

Jake getting a hand down

In a similar vein, this is Blaze:

Blaze is 16

It’s not as obvious in that photo, but Blaze, who is 16 (getting on for an alpaca), has collapsed hocks — her ankles are nearly on the ground, leading to that bent-kneed look in the front. She’s not so good on the hills, and not very spry or active — when the rest of the herd is running around the paddock, she tends to find a hill to stand on and just watch. So we were thoroughly startled yesterday when she sprang gracefully over the door of the chute when we tried to weigh her. Granted, the door is only about a meter high, but she did it from a standing start and cleared it with several inches to spare.

Mutant Vegetables

How mutant do you like your carrots ?:
wacky veggies

They came out of our very own garden, that Stephen built, and Kerry helped us plant. (I suspect the weird shapes were the result either of overcrowding or too much nitrogen.)

Garden !

In the interest of full disclosure, although the mutant carrots were from just last night, the photo above is of the garden in January, when we took out the first carrot thinnings. We have since had several weeks snacking on sugar snap peas, weeks of all the strawberries we could eat, a tomato-lanche, some lettuces, several actual full-sized bell peppers, a bunch of wax and cayenne peppers, assorted herbs, and a couple more carrots each the size of my forearm (feed a family of four with one carrot, seriously).

Although the garden spent several months in amazing lush good health, it’s currently becoming something of a sea of corruption, overrun with green shield beetles, little midgy fruit flies, strange caterpillars, and various wacky molds and fungi. Partly this is the weird weather we’ve had this year — long long dry followed by very wet — partly it’s the fact that we were taken by surprise by the amazing rampant growth and planted stuff too close together. It was physically impossible to even get to most of the tomatos, and they really didn’t get enough ventilation all packed in close together. And partly it’s because we just couldn’t keep up with the maintenance — pruning and thinning and getting all of the split or bird-pecked tomatos off and away. All-in-all, though, it’s been a tremendous success, and Stephen’s already built three additional boxes to spread things out and plant more for next year.

While I’m posting photos, here’s where the conservatory is at: not done, but getting there.

Conservatory in progress

And because we’re always posting photos of the alpacas, here are a couple cat shots. Jake in his favorite spot on the beanbag:
Jake on the beanbag

And Azami, tucked down into the box of comforters my mom sent us (Azami sez thanks, too !):

Tucked in

Patrolin' up some Mojo

Jake is on the mend. He had his stitches out yesterday. The wound on his hind leg is still a bit raw, but it is also improving. The main problem now is getting his mojo back.

The first day or two after the surgery Jake was acting pretty normal, but then in a moment of exuberance he tried to climb on top of the ‘fridge, and took a nasty tumble. I think that really hit his self-confidence, and since he has been quite timid.

Today, with the stitches out, he could go outside again. The first trip out (about 45 minutes) he stayed close to me as I worked on a fence near the house. Later he went out again, and with a more confident stride disappeared into the trees. When he did not come out upon calling, I figured he was probably trying to walk his patrol route of the property. 90 minutes later he reappeared, coming down out of gallop- slightly moist but pleased with himself. The first step on the road to psychological recovery.

In other news the police officer callled back. He door-knocked in the valley last night, but didn’t turn up much (as expected). At least they tried.

Jake, the Tripod Cat

Jake is back home again. He ended up spending last night back at the vet. I took him in Wednesday to have the opiate-bandage removed. Seems he got the bandage soaked at some point- maybe he accidenatlly put his foot in the water bowl while stumbing around in his crate. The foot had swollen, but was trapped in the tight bandage. It was really painful, and when we got it off, the paw was really swollen, plus the bandage had rubbed his foot raw in one place. Now I nned to keep a close eye on his foot, to make sure there is no necrosis. Eve (the vet) put some Manuka honey on the wound, which should help it heal. Jake goes back Saturday for a quick checkup of that paw, then Monday the stitches come out.

Yesterday I also got a call from a very friendly and helpful police officer (our community constable). It seems they are taking the shooting seriously, and he will do some door-knocking in the region a bit later in the week. It is very nice to know that our complaint was not just tossed into the “circular file.”

We have also had four replies (of 12) from the letter drop. Three called to express their shock and horror, and give their condolences. One called to say he didn’t shoot out cat, but he does shoot any cat he sees on his place, even if it is wearing a collar.

I let the police officer know about this cat-shooter. It is NOT legal to shoot cats in that way in NZ. There are limits on what you are allowed to shoot. I  think the officer is going to have a chat with this gentleman, and that will be a good thing. We are also planning on letting the other people who own cats in our vicinity about this person’s “shoot first” policy, so that they too can express their opinions.

Jake's back

Just a quick note to let y’all know we picked up Jake from the vet about a half an hour ago. He’s already adapted pretty well to getting around on three legs, to the point where I think the recovery is actually going to be much faster with the leg off than it would have been with the leg splinted. After a cautious look around, he wombled over to the food bowls & had a couple bites of kibble before actually jumping into Stephen’s lap. He’s curled up there now, purring like an motor boat.