Cat update: raccoons, rain, and relaxation

For your weekly feral cat update, a few encounters with raccoons, a spot of rain, and a lot of sleepy cats.

Looking at the camera:

Four cat snuggle:

Face-to-face with raccoons; the cat hissed, and the raccoon wisely backed off submissively:

Watching a bird:

Peeking out the door of the shelter at the rain:

Sometimes ya gotta step over to get to the food:

Ready for her close-up:

Oh look, more snuggles:

Breakfast queue:

Another raccoon visit, and quick egress:

Another breakfast queue; they’re so polite about taking turns (usually):

On rare occasions they have a brief disagreement, but it is always quickly resolved in the cat way (de-escalating by looking away and ignoring the other, until they settle down again):

Looking out the window:

Can you see four cats? Look closely:

Watching a deer walk behind the cat house:

A raccoon invaded the shelter, but retreated after being hissed at by the cat:

Finally, another snuggle pile:

Cat update: snuggle piles

As the weather gets cooler, the feral cats have been spending more time snuggling in the dry warmth of the shelter, as I’d hoped. At least some of them have spent most of the night, and sometimes most of the day in the shelter, though they typically go out patrolling during the day.

So this week, I’ve captured numerous photos like the following one, of several cats snuggled together inside:

But I do enjoy the odd goofy shot:

Nothing like a good stretch after a satisfying meal:

They don’t always snuggle together; here are four cats spread out inside:

Or sometimes some snuggle, but one prefers to be by herself:

But snuggling together can be dangerous:

As you may have seen in this video.

Another cat pile:

A breakfast queue:

This morning we were excited to see all five cats together; usually we only see up to four at a time, but in this screenshot you can see five: one on the deck, two in the feeder, and two in the shelter:

A later breakfast queue, with a bunch of Fall leaves:

Measuring tree heights

Every year at this time I wander around the property measuring the heights of select trees, to see how much each has grown. Here’s a post about this last year.

Once again, the incremental growth throughout the year becomes more obvious when compared with measured heights from the previous year.

Here’s my spreadsheet recording the heights (in inches):

As you can see, some trees didn’t survive, and some got shorter (due to damage by deer), but many grew quite significantly.

Here are a few examples, in the same order as last year’s post; compare to last time to see the growth.

Firstly, the Sweet Gum:

The “behind white gazebo fir”:

The weeping willow is looking really good:

A field leyland:

The coral bark maple:

Cat update: various vistors

Another week, another cat update! Yay!

This past week had visits from the raccoons and possum on most nights, as usual, plus the alien gray cat, and a new alien orange cat.

Firstly, here are a couple of our feral cats in the feeder, disappointed at the lack of food. I remotely dispensed more shortly afterwards:

Three outside:

Post-eating nap inside:

Watching a bird:

As mentioned, the raccoons have visited on some of the nights; about every second one on average. Usually they’re disappointed to find nothing, or only crumbs:

Too close!

The possum visits most nights… and once lucked out with lots of food, when few cats had turned up during the day. It can be hard to get the balance of food right, when the cats are inconsistent in how often they turn up to eat:

Looking at the camera:

Three inside:

Enjoying a morning sunbeam:

Spud on our front steps, where the feeder used to be:


The gray cat visited a couple of times. The first time, nobody else was around:

But the second time, two of our ferals were enjoying afternoon snuggles inside:

One of the ferals went to investigate, and there was some disagreement. The gray cat felt trapped in the feeder:

Here’s a screenshot of the encounter from my iPad:

As usual with alien encounters, there was some hissing and posturing, some threatening eye contact, some ignoring each other, then they separated without coming to blows.

But wait, there’s more! We also had a surprise new visitor; an orange cat that we hadn’t seen before:

Fortunately, nobody else was home at the time:

Finally, let’s conclude this week’s cat post with a funny pic:

Bee inspection: third treatments and purple problem

We did the last varroa mite treatments today, following up from last week.

This hive (which we might call the yellow hive, after its base) is doing really well:

A bunch of bees on top of the frames in the Flow hive, which has recovered impressively from its earlier swarm:

The purple hive, however, is causing us much concern. It was doing really well, our strongest hive, but seems to have collapsed; there are now hardly any bees, no sign of a queen, lots of brood cells that look dead, and wasps stealing from it:

The top box was pretty much empty, so we decided to remove it, so the surviving bees can consolidate in one box:

It’s quite possible that the purple hive won’t survive the winter. They do have a bunch of honey stored, possibly enough for the reduced number of bees, so if they can make a new queen (if it has in fact lost its queen), they could rebuild. But we didn’t see any queen cells, so aren’t sure what’s going on. We’ll keep a close eye on it.

Chicken coop pop door opener

Recently the pop door opener for the old chicken coop stopped working. The pop door is the small door that enables the chickens to go from the coop to their run. It has a door that slides closed at night (on a light sensor), and open in the morning.

So, I purchased a replacement.

One likely factor in the failure of the old opener was that the cord went through the wall then horizontal then vertical, via three pulleys. This complicated system would have put more strain on the motor. Plus, I had a fairly heavy pop door. Here’s the old system, when it was first installed (in January 2016; wow, seems much longer ago):

So in addition to replacing the opener, I simplified the cord system. It still goes through the wall, since the light sensor needs to be outside, but there are now only two pulleys, on a more direct path. Here’s the inside of the new opener, and the pulley above the hole in the wall:

The opener control panel, awaiting installation:

Installed control panel:

On the inside, the hole and second pulley:

The cord now goes straight down from the hole:

The wooden door is also more lightweight now; thick plywood instead of solid wood. Not quite as secure, but should still suffice.

I expect this new setup should last much longer.