From Pipi’s Pasture: Schedules to keep
There probably isn’t anyone who doesn’t follow a schedule—whether it’s realized or not. We have to find time to complete household chores, often while working at a salaried job as well. We teach our children to follow schedules so they learn what to expect and how to get their needs met, resulting in children who feel safe. These days, with the pandemic, parents have additional challenges because in some cases they have to schedule time to help their children complete school work at home, often sandwiching that time with their own at-home work schedules.
Sometimes we teach our pets and agricultural animals to follow schedules as well. Here at Pipi’s Pasture, for example, the cattle and even outdoor cats have gotten into schedules directed by routines I have established. The cattle have always been used to the feeding routine and they let me know if I’m late to put out hay, but until recently I had not realized that the outdoor cats also follow my morning and afternoon routine—right down to the letter.
I have gotten used to putting cat food out in pans on the front porch at about 5:00 A.M. each morning. I got in the habit because I’m up, rattling around by that time, and why not? Unless it is blowing snow, the cats are waiting by that time.
When it’s light enough to get around outdoors, I’m outside with a container of cat food for the corral area, and 5 cats go with me, most of them walking right in front of me so that I have to take care not to step on them (and sometimes do). They are joined by 3 or 4 more cats at the haystack, and they wait patiently as I put hay out for Cow #64 and Cricket. Then it’s on to the corral, cats all walking in front of me again, as we aim for the far end of the corral.
The cats wait by the cat pan. It doesn’t matter that some of the cats have already nibbled at the cat food on the porch; they all eat again. By this time, Kitty, a big red cow with a white, freckled face, has started her “talking” to let me know that it’s feed time. (Kitty, my granddaughter Megan’s cow, has an “interesting” personality—enough so that she has been the subject of several of my columns).
The cats eat cat food and then roll in the dirt (if it isn’t snowy), play on bales of hay, and fight while I put out hay for both pens. Then the cats and I go back to the house where they gather around the water pan while I put warm water out for them.
Later in the afternoon, give or take a little time (depending on work appointments), Kitty reminds us that it’s time to put out a little hay “snack” and to fill the stock tanks with water. The cats all go with me as before. When we return, the cats at the house get a little milk.
It’s our schedule.
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