“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”– Anatole France
It all began with the kittens…
Once the horses settled in, and the barn clean up was underway, we began to think about how to acquire some faithful (and useful!) barn cats. I applied to a local program that supports the re-homing of feral cats and cats that are otherwise unsuitable for household pet status, and deserve a safe place to shelter, and a reliable source of food all the same. I got news that I would be placed on a waiting list for such a cat, good news really since this meant that the cats the human society had were just regular adoptable cats. So…it was then that I decided to do a search to see if any local farmers found kittens this spring – and lucky for us, there was one not too far away! I quickly made arrangements, and planned out a suitable space in the barn, an unused horse stall, complete with additional wire mesh screening to keep climbing kittens safe and sound.
They made it all of two nights in the barn before we quickly realized at about 9:30pm during night check, that our wire mesh was sufficient to keep kittens contained, but NOT to keep predators out! Aaron found a raccoon climbing along the beams overhead and quickly scooped up the kittens and brought them in for the night. Our hero! So, with the kittens inside safe and sound, we decided that our idea of barn cats would have to wait until they were older and, that regardless of barn cat status they will come into the house at dusk!
Garfield and Berlioz (as my daughter and her friend named them) quickly adjusted to their indoor kitten status, and have been lovely with the whole family, and all of our visitors and clients. They really steal the show with their loud purrs! We began taking them outside on leashes to at least get them used to the idea of being out there, and once they are a we bit bigger we’ll let them spend the day in their old barn cat room again to help transition. We don’t let them out to roam until they have been neutered, as we both want them to stay close to home, and, don’t want to be responsible for adding to the feral cat population.
Then came the chicks…
The morning after we brought the kittens inside, we got the call that the chicks we ordered last month hatched, and were ready for pick up! Now that the kittens were in the “chick” room, there was no where for the chicks to go but our bedroom, at least for Day 1.
Yes. Chicks in the bedroom. Red heat lamp. It was very clear that this would not be a long standing solution, and, we couldn’t just bring the unvaccinated wee kittens in with our old dog and cats, so we had no choice but the go out to the garage and find a temporary door solution. The door we have that fit the doorway to add a barrier and make a separate section of the house for all of the new pets.
In terms of the mix of chicks (hee hee) I gave my daughter the catalogue and she chose two of 6 different breeds, by names she liked. This means we have a variety, some coloured eggers, but all in all, a mixed bunch that will all look pretty different which will make them easier to identify, and should be fun when egg collecting time comes!
With 12 chicks, there are a LOT of names to come up with – we’ve each decided to name a few, mine are named after the women of classic country music “Reba, Dolly, & Shania.”
…and finally, the puppy!
…as if we didn’t have enough baby animals around, we, at long last, found the one that we have been talking about for years. Our puppy. We knew we wanted a farm dog who would have a presence, but also be cool and gentle with visitors. We researched and decided between either a Labernese (Lab cross Bernese Mountain Dog) and a Golden Retriever. I have to say, I’ve wanted a Golden Retriever since I was a child and my favourite TV show was the 90s sitcom ‘Full House.’
We went to visit both puppies, and in the end, chose the Labernese because it’s energy levels being a work dog, and not a sport breed, is more our style, and, the girls totally fell in love with one particular puppy who they aptly nicknamed “the little old man.” I also found our that the breed itself was “designed” to be a guide dog, because of the Bernese quietness and stoicism, and the Lab’s skills and friendly disposition.
While we don’t have a Golden Retriever, this certainly is a “full house”! Thankfully, I am working from home this summer and will be able to be the primary caregiver, builder (for the coop!) and trainer for the puppy (and horses!) and am very much looking forward to the challenge, and the adventure.