RIP Pepper, shop cat

Two weeks after posting about the passing of Poppy, the outdoor feral momma cat, I’m sad to report another cat death: Pepper, the feral cat that kept the front of our workshop free of rodents. The two cats never met each other, but they had similar jobs, in different domains.

We got Pepper back in 2015, when she was a few months old, along with Pansy, the other shop cat, via a local “kitties for hire” program, where feral cats off the street, that are too wild to become pets, can be given a productive life helping keep workshops and barns free from rodents.

Here’s Pepper soon after she joined us:

Pepper

And a more recent picture, on her heated bed:

Pepper

I always enjoyed seeing her when working in the shop. Of all the feral cats, she was the most trusting of me. Like any feral, she’d retreat if I got too close, but she was content to watch me from a few feet away, supervising my work.

Now Pansy has the shop to herself, which will suit her, being a loner; the two shop cats quietly avoided each other.

Pepper was also buried near the pond, next to Poppy and our late pet cats.

Rest in peace, Pepper.

Cat update for week ending April 3

It’s Caturday!

Two cats in the morning:

Two cats

Bath time in the cabins:

Bath time

Porcini:

Porcini

Spud and Bella waiting for food:

Two cats

A cat in a tree:

Cat in a tree

Spud watching me from the steps to the fountain garden:

Spud

The cats have been avoiding inside the cat house since Poppy’s passing; this is the first time I saw one inside:

Cat inside house

Porcini coming from between the cabins:

Porcini

A sleeping cabin cat, and Pommie thinking about pouncing on an unwary bird:

Two cats

Two cats with happy tails:

Two cats

Spud sitting on the driveway; moments before he had been rolling around:

Spud

Finally, Bella emerging from the feeder:

Bella

First beehive inspection of 2021

Yesterday we did our first inspection of our beehives of the year, now that it’s warming up enough to open the hives.

We started with the Yellow hive:

Yellow hive

A frame with some honey:

Yellow hive: honey

A brood frame:

Yellow hive: brood

The deep frames in the bottom box were all empty; sometimes the bees move up to an upper box, but they don’t usually build downwards, so we swapped the boxes so they could expand into the empty one:

Yellow hive: empty deep frame

Next was the Turquoise hive:

Turquoise hive: bees on top

A bunch of bees on top:

Turquoise hive: bees on top

A frame with new honey glistening in the cells:

Turquoise hive: honey frame

The Purple hive didn’t look so good:

Purple hive: dead

As we suspected based on activity, the bees were all dead:

Purple hive: dead

Same story on the Orange hive, which we had also suspected was dead… very dead. They may have starved over the winter:

Orange hive: dead

The Hot Pink hive was a bit different — there were several full frames of honey (and signs of robbing, so would have been more over winter):

Hot pink hive: honey but no bees

But no bees; it looks like they had absconded, for some reason; weird, since they had plenty of supplies:

Hot pink hive: honey but no bees

Finally the Cedar hive; it was doing the best of all of them:

Cedar hive

A frame with old honey (blackened from being walked on for a long time) and a few drone cells:

Cedar hive: old honey frame

A brood frame; if you look closely, you might spot some new bees emerging from cells:

Cedar hive: brood, with some emerging

Another brood frame:

Cedar hive: brood frame

We also wiped out and refilled the top feeders with 1:1 sugar water syrup, to help supplement what flowers they can find at this time of year.

We didn’t spot the queens of any hives, but we didn’t look closely; we just wanted to see which ones had survived, and looking for signs of brood and recent laying. We’ll take another look in a few weeks time, weather depending.

So we ended last year with six beehives, but started this year with only three surviving. Not ideal, but we had a feeling that would be the case. We had some concerns about some of the hives, that were a bit weak heading into fall, and we could tell based on activity that it looked like some hadn’t made it. We couldn’t be sure until we opened them up, though.

Here are the remaining hives: Cedar, Turquoise, and Yellow:

Beehives

Beehives

Cedar hive:

Cedar hive

Turquoise hive:

Turquoise hive

Yellow hive:

Yellow hive

Finally, a picture of Jenn in her bee suit:

Jenn in bee suit

Cat update for week ending March 27

This week marked the passing of Poppy, the mother of our other outdoor feral cats. She wasn’t a pet cat, but it’s always sad to lose a cat of any kind. We were also visited by a bobcat for the first time (or rather, the first time I’ve seen one on my cameras).

Let’s start with some pictures of Poppy before her death; here she is with Porcini (left):

Porcini and Poppy

And with Spud on the deck:

Poppy and Spud

Here’s a cams app screenshot showing four cats; one in a cabin, one in the feeder, and two in the house:

Cams screenshot of four cats

Porcini looking out the upper back door, and Poppy below:

Porcini and Poppy

Porcini and Poppy:

Porcini and Poppy

The last ever picture of Poppy, about the time she died; at least it was in the comfort of their heated house:

Poppy

In the morning, Spud discovered Poppy’s body; it’s good that her offspring saw that, to help them understand that she had died, rather than just mysteriously vanished:

Discovering Poppy

Porcini also saw her:

Porcini seeing dead Poppy

Rest in peace, Poppy.

For the others, life continues. Here’s a cat in a cabin on a rainy morning, watching me walk by:

Cabin cat

Porcini outside the cabins, with Spud and Pommie inside:

Porcini, Spud, Pommie

Porcini joined Spud in the left cabin:

Porcini, Spud, Pommie

Porcini, Spud, Pommie

Porcini scratching a tree:

Porcini scratching a tree

Porcini again:

Porcini

And again, watching me from a cabin:

Porcini

A bobcat visited our homestead; this is the first time I’ve seen one (GIF):

Bobcat

Bobcat

Another GIF:

Bobcat

I wouldn’t want to encounter this suddenly:

Bobcat

Bobcat

The bobcat also checked out the cabins, with nobody home (GIF):

Bobcat

A still from that; so tall:

Bobcat

It was a busy night at the cabins; a few minutes later, a possum went into the left cabin:

Possum

Yawn, feeling sleepy:

Possum

It curled up and slept in there for a couple of hours:

Possum

The possum leaving:

Possum

A cat checks out the cabins, but decides she doesn’t want to stick around:

Cat

Good thing, since a raccoon also wanders by a few minutes later:

Raccoon

Finally this week, Porcini sniffing at the kitchen garden this morning (a sunny day, so bright reflections off the window):

Porcini