Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Third Annual Kitten Drop-Off

J. Devin and I were outside just before dark last evening.J. was watering the lower garden, I had watered my plants on the porch.
Devin was looking for Willis the Cat, so we strolled around the yard, doing the ,"Here, kitty, kitty" routine.
Several things happened in quick order. Willow the Tabby appeared at lightning speed from the upper pasture. Willis sauntered out from under the car--where he had been all along ignoring us.
J. shouted from the garden, "Kittens! There are three kittens here!"
I groaned aloud and inwardly seethed.

"I don't even want to look at them," I declared, as my feet carried me toward the garden.
The kittens, a motley appearing tribe in the twilight, were twining about J.'s ankles. One had already clambered aboard Devin's knee as he knelt with a hand out-stretched to them.
Clearly these were NOT feral or even half-wild kittens such as we found in our woodshed a year ago.
Also, evident from several feet away, was the obvious fact that they had very recently been in a cow barn.

I could write several scalding paragraphs about the always anonymous people who dump their unwanted cats [or dogs] in the countryside to fend for themselves--or worse yet, tip them out conveniently near a neighbor's house.
Devin and I conveyed the three squirming, smelling kittens to the hay barn, where they fell, purring emphatically, upon a dish of kibble.
When I opened the back door this morning I nearly stepped on the little scrap above who was curled on the doorstep.  She gazed up at me as I rocked back on my heels.
She commenced to purr.
The kitten gobbled the food I put down, while Willis and the tortie sisters glared, sour-pussed, from the edge of the carport.
I started toward the barn, kitten bounding behind.
[By this time I had determined SHE was a female!]

Her brother, whom Gina has named "Edward" peered at me from the lawn mower--not really frightened, but a bit more timid than his sister.

The boy with the harlequin marking on his face is "Bobby McGee" also christened by Gina.
[Giving anything a name shows a certain commitment, I fear.]

When the kittens had eaten I scooped up the two boys while their sister trailed behind.
Even temporary [?] feline residents are not allowed to smell bad.
I brought out a basin of warm water and assembled baby shampoo and an old towel.
I anticipated struggles, wild flailing [remembering the debacle of the flea baths last fall for my perfectly 'tame' housecats.]
I bathed the female first.
I didn't find the fleas I was braced for--I did find tiny balls of some gummy black substance stuck to the long fur on her legs.
I washed boy # 1 and then called for J.'s assistance as I now had two wet kittens and a basin of dirty water.

Deciding that a bucket was a better option I handed J. kitten # 3.
He was as compliant as the others had been--purring in the bath!

As you can see, kitten #1, still damp, has come to reassure her sibling that all will be well.

Nicely dry and back in the haybarn, enjoying the spill of sunlight and still more kibble.

Bobby McGee, drying nicely, thank-you.

Edward on the left--so nice to be clean and with tummies full.
Bobby McGee on the right.

Nellie, who is already a charmer.
What to do with three unsolicited kittens?
Oh dear!
I don't know!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Imperial Moth

Charlie--who is not especially bright.

Wing-span approx. 4 inches.
I came in from pegging sheets on the line to find a cluster of cats at the end of the hallway.
They were hovering with that peculiar intentness of felines closing in on prey.
J. looked up from his laptop and muttered to the effect that he'd seen--from the corner of his eye--Charlie scooting down the hall with an interested group in pursuit.
Pushing the cats aside I discovered an Imperial Moth--alive, but only just.

I carried it out into the daylight and realized from the faded colors and tatty wings that it was on its last day--no doubt had fluttered into the cat yard and become easy grabbing, even for a cat like Charlie the Buffoon, who is never quick on the mark.
I left the lethargic moth on a clump of thyme and went about dragging the hose around to water plants on the front porch.

When I returned to shut down the water spigot the moth was moving over the shady grass, wobbly, but not ready to expire in my herb garden.

I brought out my camera and snapped a sequence of photos as the moth progressed--quite steadily--up the trunk of a box elder tree.

I had the camera on macro setting hoping the moth would stand out sharply from the grey of the tree bark.
As I increased the zoom, camera shake blurred the images.

An hour later the moth was still visible, clinging to a leafy twig.

Close-up taken as the moth gripped the bark and started up the box-elder.

Charlie--taking his ease in the cat yard.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Too Hot to Play

Teasel: "I don't care about lady-like--its too hot to be proper."

"The heat makes me cross--just leave me alone!"

Charlie: "Could somebody get me a drink--and while you're about it, crank up the A/C."

Mrs. Beasley: "My nerves are fried, my feet smell--and you want me to be NICE?"

Mima: "Its too hot to eat and I don't want to be lovey."

Eggnog:  "I like the heat, it feels good soaking into my old cat bones."

Willow: "Yes, I do need this whole space, all to myself!"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fluttering By the Zinnias

Zinnias and Glads have perked up since the recent rains and the grass is green again.

The earliest glad to open were in blended shades of pink and cream.  More recently a brilliant scarlet-orange and a chrome-yellow have opened.

I didn't capture these smaller butterflies with wings open.
They are not distinctively marked.

Pretty thing!

I love the tinge of green as the yellow flowers open.

Butterflies are more difficult subjects than birds.
Its a matter of 'point and shoot' and hope that a usable image is caught.

This one obligingly opened its wings.

This spangled fritillary was very busy in spite of tattered wings.
This is perhaps the last day of its short life-span.

I've long thought of zinnias as rather coarse flowers--nearly scentless, brazen in their sturdy form and colors.
year after year, when the pastel blooms of spring have faded and the roses are sulking,
the zinnias stand up to heat and drought, luring in a host of butterflies with thier blazing colors.

Swallowtail on a fading pink zinnia.

Smaller Mexican zinnias.

Nothing delicate about these colors!

Not sure if this is the same battered fritillary.

A picture in pink.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Garden and Weather Update

Rain has settled in over the past 10 days--the gentle kind that patters down in the night or moves through in a brisk daytime shower.
The parched ground has soaked it up and many struggling plants show signs of recovery.
We have spent hours renovating the gardens, sometimes working through a cooling brief shower.
The watermelon above is from heirloom seed.

We worked through a misty afternoon rain last Wednesday, pulling up tired, spent beans, corn and and such.  J. using the small tiller so that I could replant beans, as well as sow cabbage and broccoli seed.
I usually buy my fall plants from a nursery, don't see why I can't direct seed them, thin and transplant right from a garden row.

The zinnias are stalwarts--enduring heat and drought. With the benefit of moisture they have produced a fresh burst of colorful blooms.  Red-spotted-purple butterflies, golden fritillaries and swallowtails are all visiting the flowers.

I spent Thursday evening weeding the perennial strips. The praying mantis was clinging to a stalk of Russian Sage.

Side view of the mantis.

Swallowtail on a vivid pink zinnia.

Shades of pink are predominating in the zinnias sown from 2010's saved seed.

The butterflies are frustrating subjects for photos.  They flit and move while I am trying to focus the camera.
I'm using my 10 year old Fuji at this point as my Canon has been declared unrepairable due to the unavailibility of the battery compartment door.
I don't have the Fuji software loaded on this PC, so have experimented with other photo programs--none too successfully.

The colors of these butterflies have a lovely dusky shimmer which the photos don't capture.

I haven't cut the zinnias which are past their blooming prime as they still attract butterflies.

This scarlet flower hosts two butterflies.
I should make a point to sit very still and observe which colors are most in favor.