Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunshine on My Shoulder

Even though this winter has been warmer than usual there hasn't been a lot of sunshine. The skies have been grey and overcast pretty much since the end of November, with the occasional clear day. Today is one of those rare clear days and the sunshine is warm on my face.

Days like this put me in mind of the coming Spring. New life, flowers, grass, and of course the garden. I haven't finalized plans for the garden yet. I've looked through all the seed books that have arrived but for some reason I just can't make a decision.

The only thing I know for sure is that I will be planting shallots again. The shallots did very well last year and it was nice to have green onions from late Spring to later Summer, and actual shallots in the fall. The shallots also kept very well over the winter months, unlike my previous attempts at storing onions.

I think I would like to try garlic again though I might be better off planting porcelain neck garlic next fall. It needs to be in the ground for the winter before it grows in Spring. The summer garlic I planted last year didn't grow very well but I don't know if it was the soil, the water, or the fact that the chicken's kept digging the bulbs up. I know that last bit didn't help matters at all.

Maybe I can't decide what to plant because I know we have to fix the beds first. The boards on all three of our original beds gave out last spring. We planted anyway but the soil just kept spreading out instead of staying in the nice mounds we put it in in Spring. I plan on making the beds 12 inches deep, using 2 x 12 boards to build the sides. We will also make the beds 3 foot wide instead of 4 foot as the were before.

I'll also take this opportunity to add some manure and sand to the soil. Over the years the soil has been slowly getting less and less fertile so that has to be done as well. Now I know what I will be doing this Spring. Only after the beds are rebuilt and properly fenced will I even begin to think about what to plant this year.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Surprise

I got quite a surprise when I went out on the front porch this afternoon. There were two orange cats, approximately 6-8 months old, acting like they wanted in. I, the soft hearted that I am opened the door and tried to talk to them but they ran off.

I know there is a colony of stray cats in the area. I've seen several big males dashing off into the bushes or skulking about the neighbours foundations. I know one of our neighbours, the couple that rescued Poofers for us, puts out food and gives them shelter, and catches them when they can to get them fixed. I did not know there were young cats looking for handouts.

I put a bowl of food out and a few minutes later I saw a very skinny, very young grey kitten start wolfing food. Even worse than young cats is very young kittens, starving. I tried to approach him but he is even wilder than to two orange cats. He ran across the road in front of a car, thankfully he got the the other side since the car didn't slow down even with me waving and yelling at the driver.

He must have been really hungry because he didn't take long to come back and start eating again. He let us open the inside door and talk to him through the screen but as soon as we opened the screen door he disappeared over the edge of the porch. We closed the door again, deciding patience was the better part of valour in this case, and not wanting him to tempt fate by running across the road again.

We took stock and remembered that we still had a small single level, wire cage in the garage. I retrieved it, scaring the kitten off once again, and an old heavy duty tarp and retreated back to the house. Inside PeterC and I wrapped the cage in the tarp, taping it down to hold in the heat and provide shelter, added a cardboard box with an old blanket inside, and placed filled a bowl with food inside before putting the cage out on the front porch.

While out there I saw the two orange cats coming off a neighbours porch, a thin grey cat on another neighbours porch, and a long hair grey and white hiding in the hedge. I don't know where all these cats came from but my heart just aches to see them outside. Luckily it hasn't been a very cold winter, though it has been wet and below freezing most of January.

I wonder if the weather has brought them all out or if this is a new influx of cats people have been dropping off and abandoning "in the country". I have made no bones about my dislike of people who don't take care of their animals, but drop offs are my personal pet peeve. Just thinking about people like that makes me grind my teeth and I rank them right up there with people who torture and abuse animals.

Based on how wild these cats are, I expect they are the descendants of the first batch of abandoned cats, the ones who haven't been caught and fixed yet. That does mean the neighbours are on the losing end of the battle, so ever the defender of the underdog PeterC and I will be joining the fight.

We've decided to buy a live animal trap and our vet already knows to expect new additions to the family at any time. Until then we are going to try to provide as much food and shelter as we can and hopefully tame the little ones down enough that we can bring them inside to a new permanent home.