Lots of things happened in the world in December and January. But around here it was mostly about the cats. We already had a wonderful little gray cat, Gray-C. She was inside when on December 8th we all heard a cat meowing at the front door. Cheryl went out to check it out and the new cat came right up to her. Cheryl brought out some cat treats and it turned out that this was the most ravenously hungry cat either of us had ever met. Not coincidentally, she was also pretty fat. We could not tell if she was pregnant or just hefty. By now we are coming down pretty much on hefty. We named her Spicy to reflect her tortoise shell coloring.
Gray-C was not thrilled. Spicy went right up to our dog, Gretchen, and both were fine. She also just sat down and was not threatening to Gray-C, but Gray-C was having none of it. Spicy was not getting into the house on Gray-C’s watch. I should note that Spicy is about twice as big as Gray-C. Temperatures were dipping into the twenties at night. We set up a box in the shop with a heating pad in it. Spicy loved that. Cheryl got the wood stove in the shop going. It is a tiny stove and needs to be fed every few hours or it goes out. That got to be old quickly, especially because we had to leave a door open a crack so Spicy could get in and out. A week later I installed a cat door on the office, which has a sub-heated floor. It was a big hit. This is Spicy’s new home.
Meanwhile the two cats did touch noses once on the 12th, but Gray-C immediately took a swipe at Spicy and backed away. It was getting on toward Christmas. Cheryl strung Christmas cards on our wall. We mailed out our cards and newsletters. Cheryl got the tree lit and decorated. Gray-C explored the barrel the tree was sitting in but left ornaments alone.
Things took a turn when Gray-C decided to try entering the new cat door to the office. Spicy bolted out after her and the chase was on. I had to separate them. She took a turn for the worse the next day when I went to feed her and she wasn’t hungry. Maybe it was the egg yolks I fed her the night before. Google shows they are good for cats but I won’t try that again. She slowly recovered both her ambition and her appetite. But she was lonely and not fond of staying in the office all night by herself.
So one night near New Years we awoke to the sound of a cat snarling and found that Spicy had pushed through the back cat door and Gray-C was there to stop any forward progress. We ushered Spicy out the back human door and got back to sleep.
It turns out that Spicy is as good a hunter as Gray-C. When she took over Gray-C’s favorite winter hunting spot under the bird feeder, they got into another fight. Gray-C lost but only her ego seems hurt. There have been an unusually large number of pine siskins around the feeder this year. Unlike the usual customers, chickadees, nut hatches etc. the siskins feed as a big flock mostly on the ground while a few knock seed out of the feeder. Feathers started appearing on the carpet in front of the office toilet. The feeder is gone now and hopefully the siskins will move on too so I can put it back up.
It’s not like cats are the only thing going on around here. Both cats have been out to the revamped crushing pad that has become a small cider mill. I’ll link a video of making cider to this picture. The cats are not the biggest fans of cider operations. That would be the deer. The sound of commotion out there now brings them out of the woods in hope of finding fresh apple pulp to munch on.
Since snow has been light so far, I have managed to shred a lot of pine cones and prunings and mix them with compost, old manure and biochar to mulch the vineyard. On the 29th I brought home a big metal bin to burn wood into biochar. But that will be a tale for 2021. In the meantime, Spicy is snoozing on an old office chair and Gray-c has taken to sleeping on chairs by the dining table so she can spot any potential invasions.