Posted in Animals

9 lives-1 life= a heart attack

Today I had a heart attack. It’s only an expression; thank goodness I did not have a literal heart attack. If you’re old enough to remember Sanford and Son you’ll know what I mean when I say  I thought it was “the big one”. My heart was beating so fast and fear had me in its claws so deep that I thought my heart was going to beat plumb out of my chest.

Before I began my tale, I should say this blog post needs to be filed in the “things I find under my hood” category—if only I had such a category. After today, I’m beginning to think I might need to create such a category. Usually the things found under a hood are mechanical in nature and not really worth talking about. Unless you’re me of course. Previously you might remember when I found the Rat Bastard and his nest under my hood with all his special possessions he’d hauled under there. Who knew I’d have 2 of these blog posts in as little as 3 months?!??? Well let’s get on with it, shall we?

About mid morning, I left our house with EK in tow in the back seat. She wanted to visit her Grandy across town.  We were driving along, eating gummy worms, talking about colors that match the seasons and looking for budding fruit trees. Our car was filled with smacking and conversation so I don’t know how long the noise had been happening before I actually heard it. By the time it reached my ears, it was of such magnitude and intensity it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It wasn’t the clankety clank of saddle straps being flapped around put there by a dirty Rat Bastard, but rather it was an ear splitting screech. A SCRAWWWWWLLLLLL. The screams of a mountain lion couldn’t compare to the noise. The sound of a woman being murdered in the woods couldn’t compare.

“What is that noise?” I asked out loud. EK quietened her incessant chatter just a beat or two for us to tune our ears. The sound was so loud. It was terrifying. It was obviously an animal in much distress. Not just any animal but a cat. As loud as it was, it was still a far off muffled sound of pain and agony. But it made no sense to me. Why would I be hearing a cat in distress while driving 30 mph down Duncan street? Then the realization hit me.

It was under the hood. There was a cat under my hood. I had driven at least 7 blocks with a cat under my hood. In the  2.78957856748 seconds it took me to pull over and put the car in park, my mind was a racing mess of scenarios. I popped the hood and stepped out of the car. The screech and the scrawl and the screams were so intensely crazy I was struck with a fear of what I was going to discover. I moved as quickly as I could, but of course when you are in the throes of panic and rushing to rescue something that needs rescuing, it seems to take forever. I put my hand under the hood, desperately searching for the latch that releases the hood. From the left to the right more to the left more to the right.  The whole while fearful of what I am about to discover. Will this by my cat Rocky Muffin? Is this a neighborhood cat? The cat obviously was still alive but in what kind of condition? Will it be mangled? Will it be limbless? Will there be blood spattered all over the roof of the hood of my yellow vehicle? Was I going to be able to stomach what I was about to discover?

I’m not mechanically minded a bit, but I’ve heard the stories of people who get caught up in tractors and lose their legs or those awful stories of kittens that spin around in the motors for a few seconds before there’s a thump and a wump and that’s the end of them.  Let’s just say, I was expecting nothing less.

My heart raced for forever, but I finally managed to find the hood release. I opened the hood to find, yes indeed, my very own Rocky Muffin squeezed between the hood and the black tubes and tangles of the underneath of the hood. Her fur was matted and wet on her back. I reached for her and she began to calm some. I took hold and pulled but couldn’t pull her out. Her foot seemed stuck in something, but after careful observation and a little more tugging, she had just deeply imbedded her claws into something holding on for dear life I assume. If I spring a leak later I’ll know she got a good puncture in some hose or some sort. She had all four limbs and a tail in tact, and the wet fur on her back must’ve been from the sweat and fear that had soaked through her skin. I’m sure I looked a bit odd to the passersby pulling a black cat out from under my hood. One truck began to slow, I’m uncertain as to why. Maybe to help out a damsel in distress or maybe to take a second look to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him.

I put RM in the car and she quietened down, hid under the seat, and rode to Grandy’s house in relieved silence. After depositing EK, I got RM back home where she received special treatment after such a traumatizing experience. She curled up on the bed and bathed and licked every bit of axle grease that may have touched her until she is a fine black sheen again. My teenage niece doesn’t even take baths as long as this cat bathed herself. I guess she found herself deserving of quite the pampering.

I’m not sure how many of her lives Rocky Muffin has squandered thus far, but today she certainly used up one of her nine.

And took a few years of my own along with it! Whew, isn’t life a fun adventure?

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Posted in Animals, life

The Mystery of the Clankety Clank Under My Hood

 

In the panhandle of Texas the weather is notorious for being unpredictable. Last month, in November, we had four tornadoes come through our area. And over Thanksgiving just a few days after the tornadoes, we had a major ice storm. And today, two weeks before Santa Claus takes flight, it’s predicted to be 72 degrees.  One might say Mother Nature definitely has some mood swings around these parts.

I didn’t drive my little yellow vehicle La-La during Thanksgiving break, the ice storm, or several days afterward. It sat in the nice, warm garage and took a break while I drove a different vehicle that traverses better on our roads. Icy roads that in time turn into slushy roads, that in time turn into muddy roads that go to and from our house.

Now La-La is a good vehicle. She was penned La-La last year by EK after a short stent with the dreaded Tele-Tubbies. La-La being the yellow Tele-Tubby. My vehicle is almost 15 years old, has nearly 200,000 miles on her, and has journeyed with me many miles and memories.

So when I decided to crank her over the other day, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a  noise. Something like a clankety clank, GRRRRRR, RAWRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTTTTHTTT. I immediately thought our cat Rocky muffin, who lives mostly in the garage,  was toast. I knew she must’ve gotten under the hood and that was the end of her. But since there wasn’t any blood and guts hitting the windshield I dismissed that idea and replaced it with the possibility of a broken belt (being an under-the-hood expert and all). I checked the clock, noted I was running late, and put her in reverse and left anyway. I’d worry about the broken belt when I found myself on the side of the road, but as long as La La rolls, then roll we shall.

The next time I cranked La-La over, the racket was gone and I didn’t notice it again until the next day when I got out of my car to check the mailbox that sits beside the highway about a mile away from the house. This time she released a long series of clack-clacks.

I arrived home and got out of the car and noticed a leather strap lying on the ground where she had been parked. I thought this had probably come from under my hood, although I’ve never seen brown leather automotive belts (being an under-the-hood expert and all).

Nevertheless, I had a mystery on my hands. The case of the clankety clank, GRRRRR, RAWRRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTHTTTTTHTT noise under the hood. When J-Dub came home, we put our sleuths hats on and popped the hood. What we discovered  wasn’t Rocky Muffin in bits and pieces. Nor was it a broken belt.

It was a rat’s nest.

A literal rat’s nest.

A gigantic, well constructed, literal rat’s nest perching right up on the intake manifold or something (being an under-the-hood expert and all).

 

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After the initial shock and further inspection, I assume this was a pack rat, because of the plethora of packings that had also been carted under my  hood. Namely, lots of leather straps. Leather straps that made the clankety clank, GRRRRR, RAWRRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTHTTTTTHTT noise under the hood. Leather straps that we soon discovered had been chewed right off J-Dub’s saddles that are also stored in the garage. Tie strings, stirrup hobbles,  pretty laces that hold saddle conchos in place. Chewed right off by a sorry no good piece of dirt shyster.

 

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Plus there was at least a cup full of  bird seed and cat food that he’s storing for his long, cold winter. Not to mention a very big stick. Most likely the one he used to fight off the cat Rocky Muffin, who apparently is not doing her job AT ALL. I’ve decided she must have just made peace with this large rat,sat back and watched him as he carried off her salmon flavored kibble.

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Now J-Dub has an expression he uses when talking about any body or anything who is a  sorry no good piece of dirt shyster. Anybody or anything that chews up his saddles.

A Rat Bastard.

In this case, it is very fitting. After discovering his chewed up saddle, J-Dub has declared war against the Rat Bastard.

The Rat Bastard is as good as dead.

We’re still debating what to do about the cat. For now, her salmon flavored rations have been cut until her work performance improves. Living with rats is not acceptable behavior for sure.

The only good news is that the clankety clank, GRRRRR, RAWRRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTHTTTTTHTT mystery is solved and La La is purring like a kitten once again.

Posted in Animals, life, Photos

Looking Out My Front Door

I live in a very cool place.  Not braggin’ or anything, just stating facts.  I have come to really love it here, and why not?  I am in the midst of the Creator’s glory.  Truly. Mountains, streams, wildflowers, and trees. One of the perks of living in a very cool place is that sometimes I look out my front door and see cool stuff.  And sometimes, I see not very cool stuff, like bear trash. Among the cool stuff are two big bucks that came to say hi the other day. If I knew anything at all, I’d be able to tell you what kind of point system these dudes were on.  But whatever. DSC_2141 Sidenote:  I may or may not have a thing for yellow vehicles. So do the deer. DSC_2146Not gonna lie, I was a little bit leery of being this close, with my little EK by my side and all.  Those are really some big antlers and I’m not real sure if they would charge, but of course the vision of being gored by deer entered my mind. A reel of every episode of “When Animals Attack” shortly followed. Our cat was very curious too.  You can see her photo bomb in the lower right corner of the second picture. Speaking of very cool things:  I have a black cat and it’s October!!!  October means Halloween!  Does anyone else think that’s awesome besides me? No? DSC_2169 Well I think it’s very cool.  The leaves here are in an array of colors and taking a picture of a black cat in fall leaves is currently on my bucket list.  Y’all remember this cat?  Isn’t she a beauty?  I have come to adore her.  It is definitely a ‘she’.  And her name is Rocky Muffin.  But sometimes EK says, “I changed her into a boy” so then we call ‘him’ Bagheera. As I don’t have a ton of cat experiences, I really have nothing to compare this cat to…..except a dog, and let me tell you, she is just like a dog to the point of jumping in the car to go for rides and following us on our walks. Yesterday, I tried to get some cool pics of ol’ Baggy, but didn’t really succeed.  It just so happens, unlike a dog, she doesn’t know how to sit or stay. It’s still a lot green here, mostly because we have some cool season grass, which unlike normal grass, stays green until Spring, then it dies.  So there’s more summer than autumn in my pictures.  But whatever. DSC_2175 I’m not giving up yet, so be on the lookout for more pics of this cat.  Maybe shoved in a jack o’ lantern? DSC_2158Maybe being gored by a buck? The possibilities are endless.

Posted in Animals

The Cat’s Meow

We haven’t had any chicken killings, no wild horse escapades,  nary a snake has snuck up on me of late.   The dogs have been calm, the skunks have been distant, no electrical or water outings to speak of.  Save my 9 month old causing a ruckus, it’s been relatively quiet here at the J & A Chicken Ranch.

The weather is turning cooler, and if you live in the country, inevitably means the mice try to scurry inside.

For the record, me and mice, we don’t jive. I usually keep poison out in little hidey spots and have a trap or two set, but now that our little EK is crawling and nosing around, neither poison nor traps are a good idea.

In case it bears repeating, me and mice, we don’t jive.  So I couldn’t just live with the nasty little varmints.  I knew they were around, being the light sleeper that I am, I could hear them in the night and quite frankly I was just a tad creeped out.  My mother told me she heard that rats ate a baby in New York City once and I just couldn’t bear the thought of mice nibbling on my tot’s ear or at the very least scuttling about throughout the house.

I had to do something, so do it, I did.

I brought home some cats.

Two little kittens were born under my mom’s house about 3 or 4 months ago.  My mom and my niece worked diligently taming the little cuties, feeding them saucers of milk, getting them to come in the house, until they were just almost pets.

One is a little gray and white one that Ashy mistook for a girl and named Flower and the solid black one is name Bandit, Bandi for short.  He’s a bit wilder.

I had to bring Flower out first, as we only had one cat carrier, and couldn’t fit them both in the carrier, much less catch the little black one.  As soon as the door was opened, Flower was MIA.  He took off and I didn’t hear from him for 3 days.  The food was eaten each night, but I wasn’t sure what exactly could be chowing down in his absence.  Finally on the 3rd night, we heard a meow coming from the tree so we knew he was still hanging around.

The next day, I quickly went to my mom’s and got Brother Bandi.  Now this little wiry black kitten is skittish and wild acting, but when the door to the carrier was opened, he just stayed put for a while.  Then he nonchalantly walked around the yard, sniffing around, venturing out of the front yard fence momentarily.  I was pleased to see that he wasn’t going to run and was hoping that he and Brother could reunite shortly.

I sat out and watched the reunion closely as they began mewing at one another.  Slowly the little gray kitten tiptoed off the haystack where he had stayed hidden and they scurried off together running underneath an outbuilding.  I sat on my bucket on that beautiful fall afternoon smiling  at how grand life is.  Then I went in the house.

It wasn’t much later that the quiet, grand life was interrupted with yelps, and barks, and bangs, and growls.  As I ran to peer out the back window, I discovered that Bandi had found his way into the backyard and the two dogs, Drew and Grace, were not appreciating their intruder.  The backyard had turned into a boxing ring with 2 against one and the dogs were winning.  I ran out there screaming and shouting, but our dog Drew will fight to the death and refuses to be called off of anything he has cornered.  The only way was to open the gate and convince them to go outside where Drew could go chase invisible rabbits and dig holes under pipe.

Once the dogs were gone, the little black cat pressed himself against the back screen door, wide-eyed and panting.  His fur was matted and wet from the battle and his heart was pounding.  He stayed there frozen.  I went to him to try to help him, but he ran away and climbed into a bush in the backyard where he stayed perched for at least an hour.

Finally, with EK in her stroller, I got a chair and stood atop to reach up and remove the little fellow.  He quickly hopped down, found his way out of the dog’s backyard territory and has stayed hidden every since.

My mom and Ashy came out that evening after I called and told them the story and were able to woo the frightened little guys out of hiding for a few minutes of reassurance.

Needless to say, the dogs are back in the backyard, one cat stays hidden on top of the stacks of alfalfa, the other stays hidden under an outbuilding.

I don’t think they like their new home much, but on a good note, I haven’t heard from the mice lately.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Pets

 

This cat belongs to my niece Ashlynn.

He goes by the name of Biggie.

It’s short, or maybe it’s long, for Big Cat, his real name.

One might think him to be gigantic with a name like Biggie or Big Cat.  To the contrary.  It’s that Ashlynn had two identical cats.  One was bigger than the other, so naturally they got penned Big Cat and Little Cat. 

Little Cat pooped all over the house and something very mysterious happened to him.  He just vanished one day.  Up in smoke.  He should have been named Houdini the way he magically disappeared.  It was during a time when my sister was in town visiting.  I do believe she was the last one to see him, but oh nevermind about that story.  Perhaps you’ve had a pet Houdini in your life as well.

Yesterday I received a phone call from my mother.  She was moping about.  Biggie was gone. 

Then later I received a text from my niece.  It read:

ATTENTION:  yellow tiger cat, named and listens to Biggie.  If found plz call.  THANK YOU!!!

This isn’t the first time Biggie has run off.  One other time my mom needed to leave town for about a week, so Ashlynn came to stay with me and brought Biggie with her.  He was in the yard 12 seconds before he promptly disappeared.  The next day, he still hadn’t surfaced.  We checked the pound and made posters to hang on the the lamp posts.  My sweet niece was beside herself with grief.  Did he get lost?   Could he not find his way home in this strange neighborhood?  Had he been picked up?  After 3 days, we put an ad in the paper.  No one called.  Then one night my husband popped in the door late after work and announced to Ashlynn, “I just saw your cat running across the street.”  We were then able to breathe easier knowing that he was simply out tomcatting in a new neighborhood and would return when he was through prowling.  And he did.  Three or four days later, he came back and infested us with the worst case of fleas I do believe I have ever witnessed.  Needless to say, that was the last time I kept Biggie when my mom went out-of-town.

Yesterday when my mom phoned, I reminded her of that story.  Remember mom?  Remember?  Oh yeah, she remembered.  She felt better and relaxed with the faith he would return.  And he did.  Today he is back home sleeping off his wild adventure.

 To many, one of the worst experiences in their young life is when their beloved pet goes missing.  My childhood pet, the one I dearly loved, was a cowdog named Fancy.  Loyalty was to her as orange is to the sunset.  I remember losing her one Saturday.  My friend Misti and I had been hanging out at my house early that day.  We decided to walk around the block to Misti’s house and of course Fancy followed, her little stub tail wagging.  We played a while inside Misti’s house, then ventured out to her back yard.  After a time on the trampoline, boredom set in, so we opened the back gate, went down the alley and back to my house to engage in something more exciting.  After a day full of play, dusk came, and we couldn’t find Fancy.  We looked and called and called and looked.  Finally, we discovered her lying on Misti’s front porch, waiting.  Waiting on us to come back out of the house we had entered hours earlier.  That was the last place she had seen us, and she would not abandon us.  No matter how strong her hunger.  Or her thirst.  She had followed us to Misti’s house and when we went inside, she stayed on the porch. Unaware that we had gone out the back door and down the alley back home, she faithfully remained on the porch.  

For the entire day. 

I do believe she would have waited there all night.  I’m just glad she didn’t have to.