Cat update: twins

For those in the US, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Among other things, I am thankful that Poppy chose our property to raise her kittens, and thankful that they continue to enjoy the shelter & feeder I spent many hours building for them.

One thing I’m a little embarrassed to admit is although I can recognize Poppy, Porcini, and Portabella, based on face and paw markings, I still can’t tell Spud and Pommie apart, unless I see their nether regions (since Spud is male, and Pommie is female). Their fur markings seem pretty much identical to me.

Here’s a picture with Spud, Portabella, and Pommie. I know that Spud is on the left only because I saw him jump down from the top of the camera, so I could see it was a male cat; otherwise I’d have no way of telling the left and right cats apart.

Here’s another shot, showing Spud coming out of the feeder:

Compare with this one, of Pommie coming out of the feeder:

They do look a little different, but I think that’s mostly differences in pose; watching video of both, I can’t identify any noticeable difference in markings.

Oh well, I’ll keep looking, and may spot something eventually. Most of the time it’s easy enough to tell who is who, based on behavior. Spud is more active and playful, as is common with boy cats. He also often snuggles (and play-fights) with Porcini:

Stereo yawns (Poppy and Porcini — Poppy has only a little white on one paw, and Porcini has a white stripe on her nose):

Snuggling inside, when alerted by some noise:

Stretch! (See the white stripe? Yep, Porcini.)

Porcini (again) looking at the camera in the feeder:

Porcini on the awning, Poppy on the deck, enjoying some sun:

Spud or Pommie; who can tell?

A non-cam photo of the shelter side, showing the “Cat House Saloon” sign:

And the “Mercantile” feeder side:

A cute cactus ornament inside the feeder window:

Porcini watches someone (probably Spud) on top of the camera housing:

Two mushroom girls looking at each other at breakfast time; probably negotiating who is next in the queue:

Pommie and Spud again; spot any differences? I know that Spud is on the right.

A cat watches through the window as a disappointed raccoon visits:

Watching from the doorway as a deer walks by:

Porcini and Spud snuggling:

Double-decker cats as another walks by:

That’ll do for this week!

Berry cage: new bed, back doorway, moving tap

Last week I posted about the start of a new building project: a berry cage in the veggie garden.

This past weekend I continued work on it, starting with a bit of prep stuff: taking the table saw, circular saw, air compressor, nailer, and various other tools to the hoop house and veggie garden, and re-stacking the delivered lumber to access the bits I need first.

8′ and 10′ 2×4 pressure-treated boards:

10′ treated posts, and welded wire fencing:

Next, I took the new untreated lumber to the veggie garden, and built a new garden bed in what will be inside the berry cage. I decided it’d be easier to do this before the enclosure is built, rather than after. In progress:

This bed is the same size as the others, 10×4′, though is on a slope, so has extra lumber shaped to the contour of the ground, to make it level:

Thusly:

The veggie garden is fenced, and had only one entrance, which was fine, but a little inconvenient at times. Especially now that there’s a greenhouse behind the garden. As part of the decision to place it there, I planned to add a back door to the veggie garden, to make it easier to get to the greenhouse.

So I started adding the new doorway; removing the fencing wire, and adding a new pole:

I then cut the fence boards to make the doorway (3.5′ wide):

The opposite view, showing how convenient it’ll be for the greenhouse:

One issue was that there was a tap in the doorway, so I also moved that (I do enjoy the garden plumbing!):

The new tap position:

Hole filled (a little mounded at present, but it’ll settle flat):

I also placed some boards on the ground to help visualize where the roof beams will go. You can see two short vertical posts marking where the poles will go, boards standing on their edges that will be attached to the posts, and boards lying flat between those, that’ll be spaced for the roofing wire. Basically the same design as in the chicken run.

I do need to move some of the holes a little for optimal placement. I had measured the holes based on centering them between the beds, but this arrangement will work better, having the poles in the center of the cage next to a bed instead of in the middle of the walkway:

Finally, I temporarily closed the back doorway with a spare gate panel; I will build a proper gate later (in the same style as the chicken run gates):

Next up, I will tweak the holes, and start installing the poles and beams.

Cat update: nothing too dramatic

Nothing too dramatic happened at the cat house this past week… but here’s a very “dramatic chipmonk” look:

This look from a few seconds later is amusing, too:

We did have a few un-dramatic visits by disappointed raccoons (notice the cat peeking from inside; didn’t even run away):

And a slightly more dramatic visit by a disappointed possum (with a cat in the doorway, who did retreat, and another inside, who didn’t):

Look closely at this picture; sure, there’s a cat on the awning, but do you notice the paw sticking up from under the deck?

Jumping down from the top of the facade:

All five cats snuggling inside again; makes me happy to see that:

A bit later, some cute licks:

All five for breakfast a couple of days later:

Did you watch the video of this on YouTube?

Enjoying some sun on the deck:

Spud and Porcini doing their play-fighting thing, while Poppy sleeps below:

Spud (front) and Portabella (back) nuzzling with their mother, Poppy (left):

I can’t decide if that or this shot from a couple of minutes later is more cute:

Preparing to jump up on top of the camera housing:

Levitating cat!

Another levitating cat; jumping up to the facade, the reverse of the shot earlier:

(Rather thick fog, too.)

That’s it for this week.

Chickens

It’s been a few months since I last posted photos of our chickens… so enjoy!

Buffy enjoying some kale from our veggie garden:

Kiwi:

Silver (and some others in the old run):

Kiwi, Merida (chicken butt!), Camilla, and Domino:

Goldie:

Domino:

Buffy and Merida:

That’s not all of our chickens, but the less shy ones.

Berry cage: holes & materials

Yesterday I started work on a new construction project that I planned a month or two ago: a berry cage in the vegetable garden.

We have a large fenced veggie garden, with multiple raised beds. Some of the beds include blueberries, strawberries, etc, which are targets for birds. Plus we let our chickens into the veggie garden after we’re done with it in fall/winter, so they can clear out the foliage and weeds. But we don’t want them grazing the berries to the ground.

So, I’m building an enclosure: a fence to split the back four beds of the veggie garden from the rest, a wire roof to keep out birds, and gates. This kind of enclosure is commonly called a berry cage.

I started work on this project by measuring the positions for the poles, cutting the fabric on the ground, and hand-digging out the top gravel layer:

I then used my earth auger to dig the holes, about 2′ deep:

Thusly:

I also dug to expose the pipe for this tap at the back of the garden, as it will be moved. I’m going to put a new gate there, to make it easier to get from the veggie garden to the new greenhouse:

Here’s a view of the back part of the garden. The holes in the foreground will be where the front gate of the berry cage will be:

This morning, I received the delivery from Home Depot of the materials:

Several rolls of welded wire fencing, a heap of 8′ and 10′ posts and boards, and gate hardwire:

A closer look at the lumber. The big untreated boards are for a new garden bed in the berry cage:

Stay tuned for construction progress. Next weekend I’ll re-stack this lumber (I need the posts at the bottom first!), cut the back gate, and start installing the posts and beams.

Should be fun.

Cat update: the door experiment and food error

This past week the cat house had an experiment with their front door, and a feeder malfunction, among other things.

But first, a historic event: all five cats inside the shelter at the same time. I haven’t seen this before; the most I’ve seen is four at once:

Here they are all outside:

The next day, one of the cats (probably Spud, that scamp) was playing with one of the thermal mats in the shelter. These have foil or something inside to reflect the body heat of the cat, helping them keep warm (in addition to the heating pads on the bottom level). So they make a fun crinkle noise when moved:

He pulled it down to the bottom level:

So I decided to screw them down, so that wouldn’t occur again. Just one screw and washer for each so far, though I may add another later.

While I was there, I also started an experiment to see if the cats could figure out the front door. When I built the shelter, I installed cat flaps on the front and back. The front one is their main door, and the back is an emergency exit, so they can’t be trapped by wildlife. But to encourage them to go inside, I have a bungee holding the door open (visible in this construction post). Now that they’re using the shelter every day, I thought I’d try removing it, so the door is closed. That’d keep it warmer inside.

But they couldn’t figure it out:

The door had a couple of magnets holding it closed, to stop it flapping in the wind, which also made it harder for them to open. So I removed the bottom magnet, to make it easier; the weather stripping around the edges still holds it closed well enough. I even propped it open with a stick:

While that worked to get Porcini to go inside, as soon as the stick was knocked away, the door of course swung shut, and she acted trapped. After a minute, she figured out the door, and exited:

But then she and the others went back to acting like they couldn’t get in. Even pathetically peering in the windows:

I felt bad, and relented. The next day, I put the bungee back on the door. Maybe I’ll try again another time, or maybe I’ll just accept that they don’t want a closed door. Even in their small old shelter, they pulled the back door flap off, and almost always went in that way, rather than the front door.

If they were pet cats, I could train them to use the door by shoving them through a few times. But that isn’t feasible with ferals. They had a strong drive to get inside, but couldn’t figure it out.

But they’ve forgiven my experiment, and are happy to be back inside:

And snuggly:

Another interesting thing this week was a malfunction of the automatic feeder. When rearranging things in the feeder cupboard, I had accidentally unplugged the feeder. It has a battery backup, so kept working, but after a few days the battery got too low during a breakfast feeding… and had a strange failure: instead of just stopping, it continuously dumped portion after portion of food, ending with a huge pile:

Fortunately I saw this happening on the camera, so went out there to fix it. I plugged it back in, and scooped up a bunch of the excess food.

A few hours later, I captured some video of the cats playing on the deck and awnings:

Did you watch my Cats Playing in the Sun video on YouTube? Check it out!

Apparently I didn’t scoop away enough excess food, as there was still quite a bit left that evening… but fortunately no raccoons or possums visited, so the cats got to enjoy midnight snacks:

Yesterday, Porcini and Spud had a difference of opinion (Porcini wanted to sleep, Spud wanted to play), resulting in a bit of fighting inside:

But as usual, things ended peacefully enough, after Porcini put Spud in his place.

Another screenshot from my iPad, showing cats in all four cameras. This time, the shop cat is Pepper, the fluffy black cat that sleeps in the front of the shop, and just comes to the back to eat:

Lastly, some cute snuggling from this morning:

Tune in next week, same cat-time, same cat-channel. 😸

A more secure world

I’ve just added a SSL certificate to the yellowcottagehomestead.com site, like all the cool kids are doing nowadays (even though this blog doesn’t really need it, other than to avoid scary warnings by some dodgy browsers). Go secure!

Chicken grazing box repair

Believe it or not, we have more than just feral cats at the homestead, despite them being a popular topic of my blog posts.

We also have chickens, and I recently did a minor repair of their grazing box. This is a wood and hardware cloth (wire) cover over some grass, to enable the grass to grow without being pecked to the ground by the chickens. They can nibble on the tips that grow above the wire.

Some of the wires had come loose at one end:

So I snipped off that panel and replaced it with fresh hardware cloth, nailed down with U-shaped nails:

Here’s the whole thing:

Just a simple little repair.