From Pipi’s Pasture: Getting a chuckle from animals

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Whew! It’s been a busy week here at Pipi’s Pasture, but we finally have the cattle settled for summer, and we’re starting to get the garden planted. I’m even beginning to get a ton of work-related paperwork under control. Next week, things should calm down a little bit.

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Diane Prather

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From Pipi's Pasture

One thing is for sure: Whenever things get a little hectic around here, we can count on some of the animals to do something to bring chuckles from us. I’m not just referring to the cows, either. There are lots of other animals around Pipi’s Pasture, including barn cats (despite the “barn cat” name, some live at the house), skunks, raccoons and birds.

Take last week, for example. I still was filling a stock water tank across the front yard fence. So when I went to attach the garden hose to the hydrant, I noticed a gray mama cat standing on the patio with a small white kitten in her mouth. Standing beside her was a bigger gray and white kitten. When she saw me, the cat dropped the white kitten off the patio. She had a guilty expression on her face.

I wondered what the cat was up to. I was pretty sure the white kitten wasn’t hers; the gray and white kitten was. Then I saw a little pile of young kittens behind the hydrant. I told the gray mama that we couldn’t leave them there because the hydrant leaks water. I picked up all of the kittens and put them back on the patio. Then I went back to my water job.

When I turned back to the patio, the kittens were gone, so I did a little investigating. This involved two boxes I had put on the patio before winter. I had set them sideways against the back wall of the patio, with one end open. I figured that the old towels I put in the boxes would make a nice shelter out of the weather. In April, I had heard kitten sounds coming from one of the boxes, and the gray cat kept going in and out of the makeshift home.

When I checked the boxes for the first time this particular afternoon, I discovered two litters of kittens in one box. I decided that the gray cat had been trying to move another cat’s kittens. Since a white cat with Siamese-like markings also hangs around the patio, I figured that she was the other mother. But it appeared that the gray mama had put the kittens back.

That wasn’t all that I discovered. In the box lay a dead ground squirrel that one of the cats had caught and brought in for the kittens. The squirrel was getting pretty ripe, so I took it out. On Friday morning, my husband, Lyle, told me that he saw the gray mama dragging in another squirrel. I’m thankful that the cats are “paying their way” by catching the squirrels, even though I’m feeding them so well they aren’t hungry enough to eat them.

Recently, my brother Duane Osborn told me an amusing and heartwarming story that took place on the Morapos Ranch where he lives. It involves some wrens.

Duane hadn’t unhooked the harrow from the tractor yet. In fact, he hadn’t even started the tractor since he harrowed meadows. So he decided to use the tractor to fill in some holes in the road. When he started up the tractor, Duane noticed a wren sitting on the hood, but he didn’t think anything about it. When he came back, two wrens were waiting. They both went down into a hole in the lift arm of the tractor but not before the male wren looked at Duane as if to say, “Why did you do that?” The wrens had eggs or babies down in the hole. They waited patiently for him to return.

Something similar happened to our son Jamie, but it involved a cat. However, I’m out of room. Later.

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