Summer Dew Point

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When is it Enough?

Some would guess by the title that I am going to talk about the weather…the snow, ice, cold, more snow, and now again, more cold that we have been getting in the upper Midwest. How the weather has given me some hair-raising drives home on the weekends; and how it kept me from going home at all this weekend. That I will be talking about how Hubby has been spending all hours of all the days trying to keep the driveway open, the buildings from collapsing, and the animals warm and fed in the heavy deep snow, the fog, the freezing rain and the knock down winds.
Another Drift
Another drift to move.

Nope…I’ll let others talk about the weather. Today I’m going to talk about Bob again.

Hubby posed a question to me the other day. “When is it enough? How much are you going to spend on this cat?” So I have been trying to decide…when will I give up trying to keep Bob healthy? I guess my answer would be…when nothing else will work.

You probably all remember Bob…the drop-off cat that came to our place, starving, worm-ridden, broken tail and weak back legs. We have never been able to figure out where he came from, or what caused his injuries. A person can guess all day, make up scenarios, even ask the neighbors. But the fact remains, the poor unwanted cats (and dogs) out there can never tell their story. We just have to take it on faith that they need our help, and not stew about the why.

Anyway, I told you about the fight with Pickles that left Bob with a huge abscess and the trip to the vet. That wound has healed. Then Bob got into a fight with something…we aren’t sure what (we suspect a raccoon) and he had bites on his head that needed major cleaning. That time we still had antibiotics left over…So no trip to the vet for him, just a trip for me for additional medicine to supplement what I already had. Then Pickles and Bob started fighting again. It is now the season for the female cats to come into heat, and Bob was not fixed. Pickles is, but I guess when a big male cat jumps on you, you defend yourself. And Pickles is also big, in excellent health. Bob may have started the fights, but Pickles always finished them.
Bob and Gracie Snowshoeing
Gracie and Bob snowshoeing with Hubby. Notice his tail hanging crooked.

It became apparent that it was time to fork out more money and get Bob fixed or send him down the road. Because Bob is special to me, big, scarred and disabled as he is, I decided to get him fixed. And to get his tail taken care of. Bob’s broken tail seems to have been part of his back leg problem…in fact; it seems to have been most of his problem. While trying to find information online about the structure of a cat’s tail…I discovered information on the problems broken tails can cause. I won’t give you all the details. You can check them out on this link
. But I did find out that Bob’s problem with fecal incontinence, and the problem with his back legs all stem from the pain of his broken tail.

Bob's Tail
This was as high as Bob could get his tail.

So it was decided to have them bob his tail and see if it would help him. Since I am up here in Marshall, Hubby took him into the vet (in the freezing fog) and then picked him up the next day. Hubby says he looks funny but is doing great. Poor Bob. First his back was shaved, now his butt and tail (what’s left of it) are shaved too. It’s going to be a long cold winter for the poor guy. Good thing he has a heated bed. (Sorry. No photos until I can get home).

The good news is that Bob IS doing great. He is climbing trees and Hubby says he is even RUNNING. So the broken tail was debilitating to him. It will take a while to see if his incontinence has gone away (Hubby is leery of picking him up due to too many prior incidents). But I am in hopes that it too will be fixed. Maybe when I get home, I will be able to pick him up and let him sit on my lap without a towel.

All this is wonderful news to me. However, doesn’t good news always come with a price? And this time the price was $250. Not too bad considering the results, but still…. Is it feasible to spend so much money on a stray cat (let’s see... medicine + vet + medicine + vet and medicine = BIG BUCKS)? The life expectancy on outdoor cats is not much longer that that of a feral cat (by the way Boots is still alive somewhere in our grove). And if the neutering doesn’t work and the two boys continue to fight, was it worth the money when I have to send him somewhere else? If somewhere else would take him.

This is where Hubby and I have agreed to disagree. Being on a fixed income leaves little room for extras, and he doesn’t want to spend any more money on the animals. Not that he doesn’t love them. He feels we should quit “collecting” more pets and not replace the ones we have. And that we have spent too much money on a cat that may not stay. I feel…and since it’s my blog I get the final say… I feel that if there is a way, no price is too great. Granted, a couple of thousand dollars might be asking too much…since there is no way we could come up with that. But I am working for a few months and I can afford to help Bob. And as long I can come up with the money and not take away from… say, the electric bill, I will continue to help Bob. He and I will, however, have to have a little talk so that hopefully, he will stay out of trouble and live a long life with us.

So when is it enough? Not yet. But the next time something happens, I may have to start panhandling. Is that legal in Minnesota?

Monday, January 4, 2010

On the Road Again

Good morning everyone. Isn't it a beautiful morning? What a way to start the New Year; only -20 degrees at Windom, the closest weather station for my Weather Bug online.

This is just a quick note to let you know I am heading out to work again. This time I will be working as a receptionist in Daughter Brook’s town and will be living with her. It is close enough to home that I will be able to be here on weekends, schedule and weather permitting.

If I can get my laptop computer to work, I will still be writing some blogs and getting my emails. And I will be spending my free time knitting and spinning. Yes, my wheel Belle is going with me and I’m taking Maple’s locks to spin. I only have about 800 more yards to spin before I start my shawl.

Plied and ready
Plied and ready for the edging.

And speaking of shawls, I can now show the graduation shawl I was knitting before Christmas. My friend Nancy has changed her career in midlife and is now a nurse. I am so happy for her.

Graduation Shawl
This is the Knit Pick City Tweed Drop-Stitch Shawl.

It was my first drop stitch project and I found it very easy after the initial panic. So my next shawl project is going to be the Wool Peddler’s Shawl from the Folk Shawls book. Wish me luck.
I’ll close with a couple photos of my projects in progress.

Toe Up Progress
Toe up socks using the magic loop method.

Just Starting
Just starting Bella’s Mittens, also using the magic loop method. Notice the Christmas Harmony needles.

I hope you all stay warm in this arctic weather. I’ll be in touch.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Hard Choice

The other day I mentioned our missing cats. So before I go any further I will say, happily, that all three cats are accounted for and now doing well. And....all these photos were taken at earlier times…it is way to cold for me to go out taking pictures!

Most of you already know that we had decided to feed the feral cats that pass through. Both of us (Hubby denies it) are softies about any animals. Dogs are his favorites and as much as I love dogs, cats are very special to me. If I had to make a choice, and thank goodness I don’t, I would have a couple of indoor cats. But I promised Hubby that I would be happy enough if I had a least a couple of cats around. So we have set up my little garage/shop as a “cat house” with heated beds, a heated water dish and unlimited food so my friends can be safe and warm in the winter.

Cat House in December
Cat house with barn behind it in December’s first storm.

The trouble started when we left for Christmas. Sister Connie and her hubby were going to check on the cats every other day. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. They made it over 1 day to get the kids snuggled in before the big storm. But they could not make it back in. We don’t know for sure what happened before we got home, but we think we figured it out.

Bob cropped

The cats have a cat door so they have free accesses to the 3 beds, water and food. And there was a little cat path going in and out, so we knew they weren’t snowed in. However, when Hubby finally got the snow blown away from the “people” door and got inside, no cats were found. (Now this was the morning that we snow shoed in at -2 degrees. And our cats are not brave souls that like to be out too long in the cold.) As he was in there looking for the cats, I saw Bob from the kitchen window, coming in from the north grove. He was trying to walk in the snow but could only move a couple of steps at a time. I ran out, picked him up and took him into the cat house. He was so cold and stiff he could barely move. So we knew he had been out for a long time. I put him on the stand so he could eat, but he just sat there. Then we put him on the floor to go into a warm box, but he just stood by the door of one and stared into it. Hubby had checked all the boxes when he got in, but the bright sun outside had made seeing in the cat house very hard. So he checked this box again, putting his hand in. Out jumped the huge black and white feral cat that we had been feeding in the barn. He scrambled around the cat house and scurried out the cat door. As our eyes adjusted to the dim we saw cat hair all over the place, dishes upturned, and my office very messed up. It was apparent that there had been fighting going on. And it was now apparent to us that Socks or Boots (or whatever I call him various times) had chased out our cats and taken over their house. We got Bob comfortable in a warm bed, and continued to look for the other two. We couldn’t find them. So I went into our house to unpack, and Hubby headed to town for mail, milk and gas.


While he was gone, I decided to look again. Noah and I went out and I started calling for Gracie. I finally heard a loud meow down in the grove. So I went slowly (24+ inches of snow is hard to walk though for a 5 ft, older woman with heart problems), trudging down big drifts of snow with Noah leaping ahead of me, making a slight path. And I found Gracie in a wood pile, cold but in better shape that Bob. I carried her as long as she would allow, going slowly back up to the cat house. She immediately jumped on the stand and started scarfing down food. When I started to leave, Pickles appeared from who knows where and also started immediately eating.
Pickles cropped

So now all three are home, and last night they were locked in the cat house. It was -24 degrees and we are taking no chances that they could be pushed out again.
Noah in Snow
Noah the Trailblazer.

Our hard choice or rather my hard choice is whether to get rid of Boots. Hubby was going to head out with a gun that day, ready shoot him. I am not so inclined. I love cats and don’t want to kill any, even the ferals. And if Boots would stay in the barn with the bed in the straw and eat his own food, all would be well. But then I don’t want our pet cats to suffer either. Sister Connie says living in the country sometimes means hard choices. Hubby says Boots must go. Maybe they are both right. I will probably give in and allow him to put the big feral down. We have put too much effort in trying to keep Bob alive, raising Pickles from a kitten and giving Gracie a warm home to allow a stranger hurt any of them. I won’t like it, but I’ll make the hard choice to protect my beautiful friends.