Cat update: goodbye 2018

As another year comes to a close, one last #Caturday update for 2018. But fear not, the updates will continue in the new year!

A visit by the alien gray cat:


Four cats snuggling (can you see all of them?):

Three not too concerned up top, one below, facing off a raccoon:

The raccoon backed off and left, and the cats fell back asleep:

Porcini looking at Rory on the deck in the distance:

Three cats enjoying the warmth of the heating pads:

Porcini by the heated water dish:

A meeting by the feeder entrance:

One of the twins inside:

A queue waiting for breakfast, sheltered from the rain:

Porcini upstairs, Poppy enjoying the warmth downstairs:

See you in 2019!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to my NZ family and friends, and happy Christmas eve to others in the US etc, or whatever holiday tradition you celebrate. We will be doing something a little different this year: our annual Hobbitfest tomorrow, and family Christmas next weekend. 

Berry cage: back gate

Another few hours on the berry cage project yesterday.

Despite what I said at the end of the last post on this project, I decided to make the gates before finishing off the wire, since I suspect I might need more materials. Okay, I know I do, unless I decide to sacrifice my spare 10′ or 12′ 2x4s. I don’t need that long for the gates, and like to preserve them, since those lengths are too long to bring home in my truck, whereas I can always pick up more 8′ lumber.

Yesterday, I built the new back gate.

Here’s the assembled lumber portion, using much the same design as I used for the chicken run (though a little different):

Here’s the gate mounted, with the hinges, latch, and handle (despite what it might look like, the gate is level; the angle at the top is because the top rail and roof slopes gently):

A close-up of a hinge:

And the latch and handle:

I then added the fencing wire to it, including the chicken wire layer at the bottom (that helps keep smaller animals out):

To make it easier to open from inside, I added a wire pull cord to the latch:

The finished latch etc:

The old front door of the veggie garden is slowly disintegrating; it will be replaced with a new one like the above:

Next up: another gate!

Cat update: let’s go to the shop

I usually post photos of the outdoor feral cats (and will this time, too), but let’s start off in the shop. We have a 2,400 square foot workshop building, that is divided into two halves. The front half has storage shelving, workbenches, garden equipment, lots of junk, and where we park the car in winter. The back half at one time was a bit more finished, and includes a bathroom, but is somewhat torn apart now; it’s where we store outdoor furniture in winter.

We have two feral cats that live in the shop: Pepper and Pansy (sticking with our “P” name theme). They are both female. Pepper is a long-haired black cat, who sleeps in the front of the shop, and Pansy is a short-haired stripy cat, who sleeps in the back. Unlike the outdoor ferals, they don’t snuggle, and actively avoid each other.

We got these two a few years ago via a shop cat program at a nearby county, where they place feral or otherwise unsocial cats in barns and shops like ours, where they can be safe, fed, and comfortable, and earn their keep by providing rodent control services.

Here is Pansy:

You can see a bit more of the back of the shop in this picture, including their food dispenser on the right, with the water dispenser behind it, bee supplies beyond that, and furniture storage on the left:

And Pepper; hard to find a good picture of her, since she’s so dark, and only visits the back to eat:

This is where Pepper sleeps, on top of shelving in the front. She has a foam nest on the left for summer, and a large padded bed with a heating pad on the right for winter (Pansy also has a heating pad):

Pepper is somewhat used to me; she often supervises from her high perch when I’m building things at the workbench. I pretty much never see Pansy, other than via the camera.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled cuteness; the outdoor ferals.

Too bright:


Cute head tilt:

All five cats… though you can only see a tiny bit of the back of the one eating:


Poppy didn’t appreciate being sat on:

Did you see the YouTube video of that?

More snuggles; I like how Porcini has her paw on Poppy’s leg:

Queue for water:

Poppy expresses her displeasure at an empty food dish (an hour before breakfast time):

Up close and personal (you can see the ring of infrared lights around the camera in her eye):

Poppy again. She always looks mildly annoyed:

The twins:

One of the twins by the heated water dish:

That’s it for the penultimate cat post of 2018!

Berry cage: starting fencing wire

Just a few hours on the berry cage construction this weekend: installing the welded wire on the new fence portion, that divides the berry cage from the rest of the veggie garden.

The rightmost portion has an angle to accommodate the slope:

Right side done; working on the left side:

All done:

A view through the doorways:

The left side also has interesting angles for the slope:

Next up: replacing the wire on the old portion of the fence, with this smaller gauge wire.

Cat update: snuggles, staring, stretches

It’s time for more cat snuggles!

And a bunch of staring off into the distance:

And playfulness:

But let’s not forget the (disappointed) possum menace:

Interestingly, there was a cat sitting in the doorway, and just watched the possum walk by, without retreating:

There is a water dispenser inside the feeder area, but since it has been below freezing lately, I decided to add a heated water dish outside. This dish warms up the water just enough to prevent it freezing, and only comes on when cold enough to be needed (I have a larger version of this for Rory’s dog water on the deck):

Hey there:

Breakfast queue:

Another visitor, this time a raccoon; again, was watched from inside by a cat:

Stretch and snuggles:

Can’t have too many stretches (watched from the window):

A meeting outside, and an observer inside:

Porcini staring at the camera. Oh, and if you look closely, you may notice an addition to the images from now on: I’ve added a watermark as a copyright notice and URL of this blog. I use the excellent Retrobatch app to convert the large BMP images from the cameras to a more compact HEIF format for importing into the photo library, so I now also add the watermark to ensure the images have proper attribution if shared:

A pile of three cats snuggling, and another greeting with a lick:

Snuggle pile:

Staring off into the distance again:

Chickens morning

I post cam pictures of the outdoor feral cats every Caturday, but we also have chickens. So here are some pictures from the cameras watching them, from this morning.

The older Rhode Island Red and Leghorn chickens emerge from the old coop first, since the automatic door opener on that coop gets more sunlight (it has a light sensor to open and close the pop door), and come over to the new run:

Meanwhile, the chickens in the new coop are waking up, and having their breakfast:

Then their door opens, and they start to emerge into the run:

Then the old chickens go into the new coop to eat that food (even though they have their own):

Here’s me doing the morning rounds, about to give the chickens a treat (leftover pasta):

They were very excited:

Chicken butt:

I hope you enjoyed this post, that’s a little different than the usual ones.

Cat update: raccoons, playtime, snuggles

An invasion this past week: a couple of raccoons went inside the shelter, and one even went onto the upper level (which I hadn’t seen before). Fortunately, no cats were present at the time:


A couple of cats peering out the shelter windows:

Another raccoon visit, this time with a cat in the shelter doorway:

I added a second screw to each of the thermal mats on the upper level, to stop them flopping down over the edge:

With the sub-freezing temperatures overnight, the cats have been spending a lot more time on the lower level recently, directly on the heating pads:


All five cats inside:

A sequence of three stills of Portabella falling down while playing; always impressive the way cats twist around to land on their feet:

Did you watch her playtime in the YouTube video?

A deer walks by, watched by a cat in the doorway:

More playtime:

And more snuggles:

Portabella looks at the camera while waiting her turn for breakfast:

And Porcini:

Porcini and Pommie (or Spud… but I think Pommie?):

Portabella is ready for her close-up:

Sleepy cats:

That’s it for this week!

Berry cage: poles and rails

The weather last weekend wasn’t great, and it’s going to pack in again next week, so I decided to spend some days this week on building the berry cage in the veggie garden. An advantage of being self-employed is that I can shift my time around as needed, in this case to take advantage of decent weather during the week.

I ended up doing four days (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday), which is equivalent to two weekends, so all works out. I’m working on the weekends to offset that time.

Anyway, I started by making a simple wooden stand out of scrap wood, to help support the 10′ lumber when cutting it with my table saw:

Then I continued installing the poles and roof beams, starting work in rather frosty mornings (and the highs were only around 45° F / 7° C):

Here’s a pole in a hole. The 10′ poles are about 2′ underground, 8′ above ground:

As before, I used boards and clamps to hold the poles straight:

I also added a post level, that is tied onto the pole, which is much more convenient than using a straight level, plus a string to line up the posts:

Here’s a view down a pole, showing a temporary block clamped to the pole, making it easier to position each horizontal rail board by myself:

Here’s a board resting on the block, ready to be nailed:

Another new acquisition was another stop ladder; a new 8′ one, in addition to the older 6′ one, very kindly picked up from Home Depot by Jenn. Having two ladders really saved a lot of time when measuring, positioning, and nailing two ends of a rail, and no doubt had safety benefits, not having to move a ladder as often:

The last pole:

I didn’t want to bother with covering my tools with a tarp, or carrying them individually back to the hoop house shelter at the end of each day, so I put them in one of our carts. Including keeping the air nailer compressor in the cart, which makes it easier to move around as needed, too. Here it’s all loaded up, ready to go back to the hoop house for the night (you can see the hoop house in the background):

A view of the roof beams:

Completed poles and roof beams:

Adding bottom and middle rails on the front fence:

I brought the welded wire over to check the position of the middle rail:

An extra rail on the sloped part of the fence:

Fence rails done:

A view of the front and back doorways:

Another view of the finished poles and roof beams:

Next up: adding the welded wire fencing!