Monday, May 27, 2013

The Ebb and Flow of Farm Life

I love farm life.  I really do.  I also believe it is a wonderful way to raise children.  It teaches them so much about life. It teaches them how to take responsibility and be reliable.  Helps them be aware of where our food comes from and the work to grow it all, so not to be wasteful. 
It allows them to have outdoor pets and animals and love them, have compassion and tenderness toward them and in their care. 
All of our children love being outside and spend a lot of their free time out around the farm playing and spending time with their animals.  
I am so very grateful to God for our life here.  Also to my dad for letting us live here on his farm. 
There is one part of farm life I don’t like.  I dread it. I have never been able to handle it well and it is hard to see the children work thru it.  And that is loss.

When we first moved to the farm 14 years ago we all worked hard to turn part of an old chicken house into a very nice barn.  Before long we started having a few mice here and there around in the barn.  We all decided we needed a barn cat.  A friend of mine had too many barn cats.  She offered us a mother cat and her single large male kitten.  They were both orange tabby cats.  They had both been  in her barn with goats.  She had a similar set up as we did.  It would be an easy transition for the cats, so we accepted the wonderful gift.  She said the mother was from a good line of mousers.  She said their names were Jake (the mom) and Junior (the kitten male).  (Her kids had named them  :) )  She also had them fixed before sending them here.  They were both not handled much and kind of wild.  But over time they would allow us to pet them for a few moments once in a while.  After years of caring for them Junior would even let us pick him up every so often.
Carolyn with Junior.

The kitten grew till it was larger than the mother.  They both looked so similar, that from a distance it was hard to tell them apart.  I would sit and watch them a lot.  Once you got to know them you could see the mother was slightly fuller and less muscular and a bit lighter yellow in color.  The male Junior was big boned and very muscular. 
Jake the mother.

Boy, were they good mousers.  They would regularly leave me mice and moles at the feed dishes in exchange for the food we fed them.  If the barn was clean they would bring me lizards or work together to take out full grown wild rabbits.  Two wonderful hunting machines.

Over the years we have had many stay cats show up that we have trapped, fixed and released.  I don’t mind feeding them as long as they aren’t making more.  Needless to say a mouse does not dare to show his whiskers in our barn anymore.
Over the years Jake and Junior started to slow down in their hunting.  Within the last few years both of their fur has faded and their faces are more white and grey than tabby orange.  They slept a lot more and just enjoyed being lazy barn cats and let the younger group do all the work.  There muscle tone is all but gone.  This past winter Junior started really sleeping all the time.  I could not keep weight on him.  There was nothing wrong with him, he was just really, really old for an outdoor cat.  I have always fed our outdoor cats dry cat food but started feeding him wet food two or three times a day to try to keep his weight up and help him keep warmer.  I have heat lamps out in the barn and he kept close by to them or would snuggle up to a willing cat or goat.  We were so happy when he made it thru winter.  Dad and I were talking one day and figured Junior was 14 and his mom 15 or 16 years old.  We said how surprised we were that his mom was doing so much better than he was for their age.  But surprised, that for outdoor barn cats they had lived that long.   
In the last month Junior has started just sleeping and getting up only to eat and potty.  He sleeps at the base of a round bale of hay,  just a few feet from his food dishes.   He was not suffering or I would have done something.  He was just really old and tired.  Still purred when we petted him and always happy to see us and meow to remind us to feed him when we came in the barn.  We tried to make his life as accommodating as possible.
I am sure you know where this is going…….As today when I went out to the barn we could not find him.  We searched high and low.  We finally found him.  I will never get used to this part of farm life.  Never.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.


May the Lord God in heaven, who cares about the details of our lives, be with us all as we live and grow in Him.


  1. Aw, poor Junior! But what a fabulously long life for an outdoor cat! It was a very sweet tribute. Hugs to you and the little (and not so little) ones.

    1. Thank you Julie, I appreciate it. Blessings and still praying about a job for your son. :)