The kittens have been more or less affectionately chased by the bevy of young Yoders and most recently by the Yoder puppy.
One of the kittens met an untimely end in the road.
Earlier this week when I drove Delilah and her daughters to the Mennonite markets, I saw only two kittens.
I have not cared to learn the fate of the others.
This morning I stopped at the store to buy two more boxes of canning jars.
As the scrawny kittens scurried away to peer warily from behind a flowering nicotiana, the glimmer of an idea began to take root.
I argued with myself. We cannot possibly have more cats in this little house.
I cannot possibly rescue every pitiful unwanted stray which crosses my path.
I have had heart-wrenching experiences with rescued cats in the past.
I have had heart-warming experiences with rescued cats who have become beloved pets.
I mulled these ideas over and over as I peeled and simmered tomatoes and ladled them into the waiting jars.
Delilah phoned [from the "phone booth" behind the rickety shed] to ask if I could convery her to Wal Mart.
Well, why not? J. is away for the weekend on a canoeing trip.
I had processed such tomatoes as needed doing today.
I really didn't want to mop the floors.
When I pulled into the Yoder driveway, the 5 children, all a bit grubby, rushed pell-mell to meet me.
The kittens danced away from their rushing feet, the puppy bounced.
"I think I should take these kittens home with me to live in our hay barn," I announced.
A Yoder child promptly pounced on the nearest kitten and thrust it, squirming, into my arms.
The kitten looked up at me with what I took to be surprised relief and began to purr.
I could feel every bone in her thin body.
Delilah hove into view, wearing her tall black bonnet.
She explained that the kittens didn't belong to them, but to the neighbors, a rather corpulent pair who seem to spend hours sitting on their porch watching the cars that go by.
Delilah added, "I don't think they care much for the kittens. They're always here and they're always hungry."
At Wal Mart I bought a sack of kitten kibble, then settled to wait an hour while Delilah, with three children in tow, collected items for the little girls to take to school next week.
When Delilah announced that this was a "school shopping" expedition I bit my tongue just before asking if they were buying new socks and shoes or fall clothing.
Amish children attend Amish schools. All they need are paper, pencils, crayons and such.
When I returned the Yoders to their dooryard and helped to unload the purchases the neighbors were, surprisingly, absent from the porch.
Delilah gave a command in German to the girls and in moments they flew to the next house and were back to announce, "You can have the kittens!"
After a hectic scramble among the weeds, again assisted by an assortment of children and the puppy, I had the kittens, two tiny tortoisehell girls.
At home I dumped them in a cat carrier with a pan of kibble while I put together a wire "pen" to keep them safe until they are acclimated.
I trudged back and forth to the hay barn, carrying a tray of litter, a small bowl of water, an old shirt of J's to make a "bed" on the upper level I had devised in the cage.
The kittens munched kibble, licked chicken "baby food" from a spoon.
They purred, rubbed bony heads against the fingers I poked through the wire of the cage.
Their eyes are bright and clear, there are no signs of intestinal upsets and no sniffles.
I can't guarantee them safety from things that swoop, prowl or pounce.
I can feed them, have their innoculations, have them spayed in due time.
For however long they can survive in our barn, they will be well fed, petted and welcomed.
I have named them Sadie and Sally.
That's Sadie, taken this morning after each kitten had licked up a spoonfull or two of strained baby food meat. I'm hoping to put flesh on their tiny bones without over-whelming digestive systems which have been deprived.
Here they are--tumbling over the hay bale and purring like little engines.
All the photos I took this morning are blurred.
Busy kittens aren't going to hold still and pose.
I'll keep them in the cage today with visits every few hours and excursions out onto the hay bales stacked in the center aisle of the barn [Pebbles' hay!]
Tomorrow I'll let them out into the big wide world and hope that I have been recognized as the source of food and companionship.