Crazy Cat Farm No More

At long last, we are getting the rest of the farm cats fixed. (You can read more about our crazy cat chronicles here.)

This task had been on my to-do list for a while, but I was not able to pull it off on my own. The scheduling of it all was the hitch, making time amid the busyness of the CSA season to trap and transport cats to the feral rescue organization. I had slated this spring to finally tackle the job, since I was expecting to have more time during our sabbatical year, but the pandemic struck, and everything shut down. Then the cats had litters of kittens, which required time to tame and adopt out. And then we were in the thick of the growing season.

Here’s what happened to turn the tide. Toward the end of August, Shel and I heard the sound of kittens. Which after a spring flood of kittens was awfully demoralizing. We looked around and found them—three little ones—under the front porch steps. But mama cat was nowhere to be found. We waited a while to see if she would show. She didn’t. The kittens were tiny and shivering and crying. What to do?

When we had the spring litters, Kolleen, a friend of mine, told me that she was involved in cat and kitten rescue over on the lakeshore, and that if I ever ran into trouble, I should give her a call. Well, I reckoned this counted as trouble, so I texted her.

She phoned back right away and asked if I was sure the mama cat had abandoned them. I described how long they had been crying, and how they were starting to crawl from their hiding place under the porch, even though their eyes weren’t even open yet.

“Oh, that’s bad,” she said. “Hang tight while I make some calls.”

Almost immediately, I got a text: “This is Angela. Call me about the kittens.”

So I called. She spoke swiftly, and with authority: Get the kittens. Put them in a box with a warm blanket. Meet her in twenty minutes in the parking lot of the Norton Shores Target.

I gathered up the tender little fluff balls, put them in a small box with a fuzzy towel, and made the drive. When I handed Angela the kittens, she handed me a live trap. “Get the mom,” she said. “We’ll get her fixed.”

Well. Clearly I had found the ally I needed to solve the farm’s cat problem.

Once I returned to the farm, mama cat was hanging out on the farmhouse porch, utterly unconcerned that all her babies went missing. Seeing this was my chance, I baited the trap and set it out. Sure enough, once I went inside, she sniffed around it, then went right inside. The trap banged shut. Victory.

I texted Angela: “Good news: Mama cat is in the trap.”

Angela texted back: “Meet me in ten minutes at Turk’s Tavern.”

So I did. When I handed off mama cat. Angela explained that she would try to reunite her with the kittens, and then get her fixed.

That’s how it started. Once mama cat returned to the farm, I trapped the others that still needed to be fixed—Ninja and Medium, Puffball and Scruffy—and Angela helped take them to the clinic. Now, only one cat remains, a big fighting tom, scarred and wary. We call him Socks because of his white feet and shins. So far he has resisted the trap. But I will keep trying, at least until the snow flies.

My Favorite Turn of the Season

Here at the farm, we’re on the back half of the season now for certain. All the signs are here: the trees along the edges of the field turning red and orange and yellow, the Great Bear in the evening darkness dipping lower toward the horizon, the farm cats spending less time hunting field mice and more curled up on blankets in the house, the sumac catching fiery red, the cool green freshness of the fall crops reaching maturity. It’s my favorite turn of the season, and with it my mind also turns toward next year.

Which is, as you well know, full of uncertainty, given all that’s going on in the world. Planting the farm’s garlic crop this week, I found myself wondering, What will the world look like when these little cloves are pushing their tender green shoots through the straw mulch this coming spring? Who can say? But in the same way the cycle of the seasons keeps on turning, the farm work moves along its well-worn path, and I follow it, in faith and hope.

One more thing: This fallow season has reminded me how grateful I am to be able to farm, and how grateful I am for all the support of our members over these past seven seasons. From the bottom of my heart: thank you. I am looking forward to growing food for you and yours next season, and for many seasons to come.