After having a cup of tea, I mixed up the milk replacer and poured it into the two calves' bottles, then headed toward the door, flashlight and bottles in hand. As I stepped outside into the dark I heard a hen cackle. Hens don't normally cackle when it's dark unless something is messing with them, so I knew before checking that a varmint was involved. I set the bottles down on the porch, shined the light out toward the chicken house, and saw nothing except Mama Kitty.
Wait, what? Mama Kitty has been gone for two weeks! But when I said "Mama Kitty?", she came over and let me pet her. No time to rejoice though, something was bothering the chickens.
As I got nearer the henhouse, I saw my suspicions were correct: a mangy possum was getting a drink from the chicken's waterer. As I drew near, he leisurely slipped down under a wooden slab that sits in front of the door and was gone. I aimed the light inside the house toward the roost to find there was a hen missing.
I was fairly certain she wasn't dead, because a chicken in the throes of death doesn't just cackle: they squawk pitifully until death takes away their pain. I shone my light around the chicken pen and finally saw her huddled in a corner, alive and unscathed. I tried catching her in the dark, but she isn't a pet and wasn't having it. Hoping that the possum was done with his raid for the night, I turned my attention briefly to Mama Kitty, realizing the calves' milk was gradually getting cooler than the body temperature warmth it's supposed to be. We're talking about a cat I had given up for dead, one of the bravest, most noble cats that has ever won my heart. I actually picked her up, which neither she nor I enjoy much, but she allowed it. Putting her down, I turned my attention to the calves.
One of the calves, Lucy (a boy Lucy) has a mild case of "the scours". That's diarrhea, for you city slickers. He's not really sick, but it's a thing you can't just ignore or it gets worse. So I had to somehow get a pill down him. The calves are in a pen together, and if you enter the pen you are attacked by two calves butting at various parts of your body in hopes of finding a nipple to suck... the little suckers butt so hard they could knock you down. Somehow... still in the dark... I managed to lure the calf needing a pill into the barn and administered his medicine. Then I fed both calves their milk.
Finally, it was time to pay more attention to Mama Kitty. Wherever she'd been, she had obviously been eating and seemed no worse for the wear. I wish she could talk and tell me her story! I was so glad to see her, I gave her a can of the kitten's special food right there on the porch, just to let her know how happy I was to see her.
This is the second time Mama Kitty has been gone for an extended time; I truly had given up hope. Now she can get back to hunting and earning her keep. I did an entry four years ago about how she taught her kittens to hunt (the last babies she gave birth to). If you aren't squeamish, you can see that entry HERE. Cats don't believe in killing their prey in a timely manner; they like to play with their victims first.
On a totally different subject, our clothes dryer stopped working two days ago. Thank goodness I have clotheslines outside to use in such an emergency. Friday we went to Sears and ordered a new dryer, one with no bells and whistles, of course, because that's how we do things.
Cliff, remembering our need for shoes, said, "What about going across the street to Kohl's and seeing if we can find some shoes there?"
We went and we did! They had a few brands in my size, oh happy day. I had to get away from Nikes because they've always been about a half-size smaller than other brands, but I found some New Balance walking shoes that fit me at a good price. Cliff got Nikes, also at a bargain price. We agreed that these are not as comfy as the ones we wore in the 70's, but they were certainly better than anything we'd seen at other places on Wednesday.