Monday, January 26, 2015

Out of My Way Already!

The blizzard of 2015 is coming, a "Nor' Beaster" they say. The supposedly historic storm that will wallop the northeast, particularly the coast, has gotten everyone in a tizzy. Normally, being closer to the coast has the benefit of giving us six to twelve inches less snow than our neighbors will receive one hour west. My husband the boy scout has made his preparedness list: firewood inside for the woodstove, water jugs filled, batteries, bird feeders filled, chicken coop prepared. And of course, bread and milk. Don’t know why the last one; we’re mostly gluten free and lactose intolerant.
This morning, while the snow was still whispering of the threat to come, Jay and I cleaned out the chicken coop and put down lime, diatomaceous earth and fresh shavings. The dogs came out with us.  Our geriatric Golden Retriever, Chardonnay, lives for this kind of weather. Snow is heaven for a Golden. For Coraline, the short-haired Shar-pei mix, not so much.  She wears her pink jacket when it’s cold and has a low tolerance of the whole precipitation thing.
The chickens’ water and food dispensers were filled. The water and its heater were brought inside so when the storm hits, the girls and the new rooster, Sam, can stay closed up comfortably inside. They have a heater in their coop to keep the worst of the chill off, as long as we have power. As we worked, the chickens were everywhere we didn’t want them to be; in the way of the rake and shovel, clucking ahead of me while I focused on my tasks at hand. I finally asked Jay to offer them scratch outside to try to give me some room to work.
Sam and his girls

Coraline became tired of waiting for us to let her back inside, and as she has been known to do, let herself back in by pulling the door handle down. Cory will shut the door behind her, but only if we are there to instruct her. We were still working outside and didn’t notice the wide open back door for a few minutes. A couple of cats wandered out, marveling at the snow. I heard a “Crap!” and looked up to see Jay rushing to the door to close it, cats running back in as he approached. Cory was shut in the house. Fortunately, she doesn’t know how to open the door from the inside.
Back in the house and outside chores completed, Jay looked out the window and noticed a small bird that wasn’t acting right. At first it appeared that the tiny black and grey Chickadee was carrying a thread. Then it became apparent that it was entangled and tethered to the tree by the thread. Jay held the bird while I worked to get it loose from the almost invisible thread that was wrapped around its body. Even its foot was bound to a flight feather. The little guy was frightened, but still had the wherewithal to bite us. Fortunately, a Chickadee bite isn’t as powerful as that of a chicken. After about five minutes, the thread was separated and the Chickadee flew away. It would have been a great viral video moment had anyone been there to record it. We feel so fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.
Most of the storm preparation completed, Jay went upstairs to take a call for work. I decided to fill the dogs’ five gallon water jug. I got our big red Maine Coon, Pipsqueak, out of the sink so I could fill the jug. She still hovered close by, supervising my actions. “Could you move?” I asked while putting her on the floor. Why do the animals always have to get in the way when I’m busy? They always seem to be right where I’m walking or about to sit.
I looked out the kitchen window as the snow gently covered the ground, dusting the black smoke cat who was wandering around the bird feeder. Crap! We missed one. Tina is our adventurous, and pregnant, female. I turned off the running water and rushed to put my boots and coat on. Jay called down to me to ask where the kitten was.  He couldn’t find little Kate in our master bathroom where she is supposed to be and her mother, Kiss, was frantic.  I had a new priority and yelled, “Tina is outside!” as I went out in the snow.
I circled the house, calling and looking under bushes. Normally if a cat gets out, it will instinctively hide under our deck. Our cats are exclusively indoors so the great outdoors terrifies them. Except for Tina, that is. She's an indoor cat, but a rebellious one. The last I’d seen of Tina was when she was leaving the bird feeder area and headed toward the front yard. Tina had kept several steps ahead of me and also circled the house where I found her sitting calmly by the back door once I caught up. Apparently the adventure had lost some of its fun with the reality of snow and cold. I opened the door and Tina sauntered in. Wiping the snow off of her coat, I lectured all the creatures surrounding me about the dangers of going out. Didn’t they know there was a blizzard coming? Be grateful you don’t have to live outside, dammit!
Jay called back downstairs. Did I know where the kitten was? Jeez! I had a good idea since I’d heard the cabinet doors under our bathroom sink opening and closing before. Under the sink, behind closed cabinet doors, we have a laundry drop to the washing machine downstairs. The drop is about two feet before the clothes land in the basket. I had done most of the laundry, but there were still dirty clothes in there. I reached up and opened the cabinet over the washing machine and pulled out the basket of clothes. Sure enough, cute little 5-week-old Kate the kitten sat there nestled in the laundry and looking very comfortable in her new bed. I took the kitten back to her anxious mother upstairs and, using a bungee cord, secured the cabinet doors.

Kate the laundry princess

Enough drama with the animals already! Can we just get on with the blizzard? Check back with me tomorrow to see if I need digging out.