Sunday, 25 June 2017

Is This A Green Welly I See Before Me?

Ages ago, I wrote about the Pursuit of Green Wellies, the way chicks and lambs quickly learn that the things wearing the green wellies come bearing food. Now it’s the turn of one of our older hens.
Black Lacy in her prime in 2010
Black Lacy - the name is essentially descriptive, a black hen with brown mottling on her wings that made her look like she was clothed in black lace when she was in her prime. Now it makes her look like a grubby old hen in need of a wash, but no judgements here: I’m a middle-aged bloke in need of a smaller waistline.
Black Lacy is not our oldest hen – that would be Chicky, who just keeps going – but Lacy is the one most seriously showing her age. Black Lacy moves slowly, she is incredibly light when you pick her up, and based on prior experience, she is going to drop off the perch some time this year. However, she seems perfectly content pottering around, relaxing in the sun when we have any, and laying the occasional egg when the mood takes her.
The other notable thing is that she is very nearly blind. One eye is completely useless, and there is no noticeable movement of the iris. The other clearly picks up something, but not enough to, say, stop her running into walls. To be fair, that was because all the other hens went chasing something, Black Lacy just got caught up in the moment and never saw the wall everyone else swerved past. My partner heard the impact as her beak hit the wall.
Black Lacy today - to be fair, the
light wasn't as good
The only thing she sees reliably are green wellies. Because her eyesight is so poor, there are certain rituals during the day. I start with lifting her down off the perch in the morning and putting down a pile of corn when all of the other hens have gone, otherwise she would get nothing. There is a similar routine in the evening – wait until everyone else is on the perch and then put down a pile of corn for Black Lacy.
She can’t see the corn, of course. Or not until it is literally right under her beak, or moving. When I trickle corn slowly out of my hand she tracks the movement – once she has found one end of the trail, she keeps following and pecking. Or gets it totally wrong and heads away from the food, but then it is easy to pick her up and start again.
Now I have a new routine, because I noticed her tracking my wellies. I don’t know if it is the colour, the size, or a dim memory from chickhood, but she recognises something about those big green boots and the first place she hunts for corn is right between the toe-caps. Unlike chicks, she doesn’t race towards green wellies, in fact she doesn’t race anywhere (except for the unfortunate incident with the wall) but she does recognise them.
That, or she can smell my feet through five millimetres of rubber. You never know with a chicken.
Whatever it is, our blind hen knows the significance of green wellies.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Noticing Noticing

Mornings have a simple routine, get up, check the animals, have breakfast, except for winter when breakfast happens first whilst we wait for daylight. That’s most mornings. Today was one of the specials where I needed to be somewhere, on time. That means add in getting showered, finding clothes with no significant animal debris on them, and packing in lots of extra jobs.
The clean clothes were already set out. All I had to do was shower, cook breakfast, get clothes off the rack beyond my partner’s desk, check weather forecast, nice legs, stroke cat...
Wait. Nice legs? Where did that come from?
Back up. Literally. It was something that caught my eye on the desk – a piece of junk mail waiting for the decision: recycle immediately, use as fire-lighter, use as litter-tray liner. In the semi dark, some unquiet corner of my mind that still remembers its testosterone-addled youth picked out a dim photo, and nice legs. It took some staring at the desk to put the pieces together.
The thing is, this was just a passing glance. All that background stuff in my head, at the subconscious level, picked out a particular detail – part of the activity we mostly don’t notice. The same stuff that gets your foot shifting to the brake before you can consciously paraphrase the Bard – is that a pedestrian I see before me? – or keeps your fingers out of the way of the knife so that supper remains the vegetarian option. We spend so much of our time not actually noticing all the stuff we notice, that it comes as a surprise when circumstances make us notice it.
The people who do the adverts in the junk mail know it too, even if they don’t know they know it. That picture, on close inspection, was an ordinary young couple walking down an ordinary street. When I pick it up and look at it now, my head doesn’t instantly say ‘hey, nice legs’, except as an echo of this morning’s surprise, instead it explores things like do we want another credit card? No. Or even is this paper too shiny for the litter tray? But somewhere, in the background, that bit of my mind is probably still chuntering – nice legs, see, told you so. So even though I don’t want the credit card, and surely wouldn’t be swayed by the nice legs, some bit of me noticed, and there’s no telling how insidiously it might be nagging the rest.
Hmmm... this reminds me, I must ask my partner if she’s noticed there’s some junk mail needs processing. Nice fire-lighter.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Strawberry Delight


Every solution brings a new problem. After our tricky lambing and bottle-feeding, we moved Rubitu and son into a pen in the greenhouse. Life is like that around here – lamb was undersized, probably a bit premature, shivering in the northerly wind and in need of somewhere warm. Greenhouse – obvious, yes?

Moving a lamb is easy – you pick it up. Getting the ewe to follow is as easy as the ewe chooses to make it. The technique is to carry the lamb so that she can see it whilst doing your best cry of mah, mah if the lamb refuses to call for mum.

As it turned out, getting them in was easy. Rubitu was cooperative, probably helped by the fact that we had spent the last couple of hours with both of them, in a confined space, trying to get lamb to suckle.

After two days of warm and safe, we reached the trade-off point between keeping lamb warm versus teaching lamb to follow mum. To complicate matter further, Rubitu wasn’t eating properly – yes the sheep nuts were very nice, but what she really wanted was fresh greenery. The odd large handful of dock leaves went down well, but we couldn’t spend all our time picking salad for her.

The morning of the big day felt a bit too cold, but shortly after lunch we decided it was finally warm enough. The plan was for a simple division of labour: my partner went to let Rubitu out and see if lamb would follow, I went to install some new cat-flaps as the rodent-suppression team need access to some more out-buildings.

The thing I really need to emphasise is that Rubitu and lamb were in the greenhouse, which is fenced off from the sheep to protect all those young plants being raised just outside the greenhouse. Sheep have no respect for the plants you care about. There is a hedge just inside the fence protecting the trees and we had to beef-up the fence to stop them reaching through and eating said hedge.

It turns out that Rubitu likes strawberries – not the fruit, but the plant. In fact she more than just likes them, but if she can’t have strawberry plants, well those young willow saplings look tasty. Are those raspberries at the back? Rubitu was in sheep gastro-heaven. So much to choose from, but she couldn’t eat a whole one, or at least not before my partner intervened and shooed her off.

It took two of us to get Rubitu and lamb out into the field, one to move the lamb, one to defend the plants. Junior now goes out during the day, but he has another few nights in the warm, so Rubitu has those brief few moments, morning and evening, to give the strawberries a good look, or perhaps a quick munch if we’re not paying attention.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Wash With Trouble

A day with a long list of jobs is almost a guarantee of something going wrong. As a matter of practicality, I started with laundry, hanging out the wash whilst my partner went to feed the sheep. It’s been a nice, bright and sunny day with a crisp and bone-biting northerly wind so you stay awake to enjoy it. I was in the middle of juggling pegs when my partner shouted for help.

In the hour or so since I last checked, our final ewe for the season went from nothing to lambed. And in trouble. On a day with serious wind-chill.

Shove over, I'm older with more insurance - Cilla (foreground)
 making her bid for the lamb
Around about this time last year I wrote of our ageing ewe Cilla trying to take a new-born lamb from it’s mother, and here she was, at it again. With a side-order of Idris the gander being an aggressive nuisance. Last year I had to handle it on my own – it’s so much easier with two. We led the ewe into the barn, got her settled in and shut everyone else out. Job done. Crisis over. Back to hanging laundry and feeding sheep.

Not too long after, I went back to check. Soay are outstandingly self-sufficient, but things do sometimes go wrong. The lamb had found a gap and gone behind a barrier – easy enough to fix, so I settled him back with mum and headed off to tell my partner. Naturally, we drifted by for another look – basic precaution, and Soay lambs are outstandingly cute.

We only have a small number of sheep, and we’ve only been doing this for about ten years, but sometimes you look and you just know something is wrong, even if you don’t know what. It took a while to figure it out, but the lamb was not suckling, which is high on the list of terminal bad news for a new-born.

Here, right where I'm pointing
I stood him up and pointed his nose in the right direction. How hard can it be? Lambs have been finding the teat and sucking for thousands of years. Junior would suck on anything except the teat. So I stepped back and my partner took a go. Pick up lamb, guide nose, contact with teat... Seriously, it’s not us, it’s the lamb.

Imagine a multiple choice exam, Just to make it simple we’ve made every answer A. There you go, try your best. This lamb just keeps ticking D.

Feed me, sucker.
Let the dribble and drool commence.
There comes a point where this is truly life-threatening. My partner drove to our local farm supplies store to pick up a pack of commercial ‘colostrum’ substitute (the extra-rich initial milk the ewe produces to help jump-start the lamb). We already had some that we bought just in case, but now years out of date – our Soay rarely need this stuff. So rarely in fact that this is the first time in ten years.

So, lamb has had a few feeds. He keeps standing and heading for the udder, but it’s those last few millimeters where his nose veers away from the teat. Left a bit, right a bit, bang on, go for it... what’s this over here?

And now the final problem. We think he’s actually premature. After a lot of staring and muttering, we’ve narrowed down one of the things that bothered us at the start: his head is the wrong shape. It’s remarkably hard to explain. Think of an inflatable toy that just needs a few more puffs of air to push the nose out to where it belongs. We have seen this sort of deformity once before in a pair of lambs born to a ewe who was very ill, but at least hers got the hang of suckling promptly.


On the bright side, the laundry is drying. We’re going to need that later. Hand-feeding a lamb is a messy business.

PS
Just as I post this, junior appears to be suckling at last.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Milking It

Thug (aka Drang, aka the Purring Death) continues to visit. He dropped by on Sunday afternoon whilst we were out, sitting in the sun, watching out for the fox that has been killing our chickens. It was a nice day – perfect to set up the chairs, the camping table, have lunch, read a book...
Then Thug arrived, and all other cats vanished. As always with a cat, given three chairs, one of which was empty, he came and sat on me. Attention is required, and stroking, and my nose needed some firm adjustment upwards and to the left... no, upwards and to the right...
And then he moved on because my partner’s nose clearly needed adjustment.
What he really wanted was food. This option is not available. Adorable as Thug is, he is not allowed in the house due to his predilection for visiting violence on the other cats. Likewise, feeding is also not allowed, because it encourages him, so no food. Sorry. Being adorable is just not enough.
Thug jumped up on to the ageing camping table, but the plates were empty. Normally we would intervene – cats are definitely not allowed on the table – but encumbered with books, laptops and a joint curiosity over what he would do, we watched...
He inspected the tea-tray - nothing there except the milk jug. Small, glass, a bit of milk in the bottom...
He stuck his nose in, just enough to get a sniff. This has echoes of Tigger, a cat we had many years ago, and one of the first things he did was try to get his head in a large blue ceramic milk jug. He couldn’t actually get in, but Tigger had a purr designed to register on the Richter Scale, which reverberated inside the jug. Thug was working on a really small jug, so just the tip of his nose fitted in, and with no interesting sound effect.
So Thug did an Arthur. That probably doesn’t mean anything unless you’re old enough to remember adverts for wet cat food with a white cat eating from the can with his paw. Thug did just that, dipping a paw in the milk and licking it off. It would have taken him a while to get all of it but he chanced on an even better strategy – he tipped the jug over, into the tea-tray. Clearly if people will not put milk in a saucer, Thug will improvise.

Thug is a bright cat. I fear he will rule the world one day. Now that he knows how to milk a jug, there will be no stopping him.

Friday, 14 April 2017

A Cute Lamb Syndrome

Say Ahh! No, not like you’re at the dentist. More like you’ve just seen something amazingly sweet and cute and adorable. So, say Ahhh! because this is the Easter gratuitous cute lamb blog written purely because our first lambs have just been born and because they are just so amazingly cute.
Pretty much everything new-born is cute. I’m sure there are creatures out there who produce plain ugly offspring, but once you get onto cats, chickens, sheep... everything is cute. But some are cuter than others and, for whatever reason, cute as the average lamb is, the Soay lamb has extra-added cuteness.
Wait, I know I'm cute, but is this my best side?
I have done pictures for this blog because you have to see this sort of cuteness. There is a degree of tradition that says the photos ought to have a cute girly holding the lambs, just to emphasise how much cuter the lambs are. Since we are currently out of cute girlies, you will have to make do with middle-aged bloke with beard. Now how cute is that?
Once you get past the initial ahhh! moment, lambs move on to higher levels of cute, with added gambolling and playful curiosity. Last night they were digging up the special SoftSoil(tm) Luxury Kitty-Poo facilities (mole hills), which is seriously cute and, even at a couple of days old they have the sense to not disturb the ones already used by the cats.
No, I'm the really cute one.
At present, the lambs are working on keeping up with Mum, but soon they will work on the next cuteness skill which we refer to as zoom. It needs more than one lamb to be properly effective, so having the twins is an ideal starter-pack. Once a few more have been born then we can have proper zoom - high speed, formation running, over the molehills, up and down slopes, around slow-moving ewes, over sleeping ewes. Zoom is the natural lamb expression of having legs. Sturdy, powerful legs that are functional within the first hour of being born. Legs that let a lamb keep up with the flock. Basically, legs that go zoom.
Either these legs really go zoom, or grown-ups are just very slow.
Lambs are the equivalent of an eighteen year old human male, with full testosterone-induced mental impairment, given the keys to the motorbike/hot hatch/Daddy’s mid-life crisis sports car – the only thing to do is find out how fast it goes.
So, lambs go zoom. And as with the sports car, we have trees to help them stop.
And finally there is the naming, but the twins are rams, and due for the snip, so no names for them, right? That was the rule/agreement/convention which we settled on when we started with the sheep. The ewes get names. The rams get names. The wethers are just known by their ear-tag numbers.
Ginge is also very cute and came to supervise
We only intended to start with a few, maybe as many as six, just to see how we got on, but there were twenty-six, the last of a flock in need of a home following the death of a Soay breeder. Rosie, Rhoda and Ruby were the ewes born that year, and the boys just had a number - we still have numbers Thirty-seven, Thirty-Eight and Forty.
So Bonny’s twins Ocean and Sea don’t really need names, and maybe they won’t be called Ocean and Sea... but lambs are so cute, they have to have names. Even the ones that don’t need it.

There you have it, the gratuitous cute lamb blog, the annually recurring outbreak of A Cute Lamb Syndrome, which will clear up by the autumn.

Monday, 27 March 2017

And Behind The Third Door...

Thug, aka Drang (aka the Purring Death), still drops by to say hello. It’s nice to see him, stroking is essential because he is a demanding cat. Mostly demanding with cute menaces. The important thing is that he is not, under any circumstances, allowed in the house, on account of his tendency towards violence against other cats.
Us getting in and out of the house becomes tricky when Thug is visiting, because he knows there are tasty snacks inside. The merest hint of a door opening and his nose is pressed to the gap. Fortunately, there are two doors, and Thug has learned the dangers of the Front Door, which is dangerously close to The Van. He knows the routine – stroke, stroke, cutesy noises, lifted into the air, into the van and get driven home, down the hill. Thug doesn’t appreciate being taken home, or not before he’s had a bite out of someone else’s food bowl. And perhaps a bite of said someone else. So the front door is the answer for us to get in and out the house.
At present, my partner is away, with the van. Thug is a bright cat and he’s worked it out – no undignified return home without snacks and some recreational violence. (As I type, Ginge is hiding somewhere between five and ten meters up inside an overgrown cypresses hedge, Oatmeal is watching the cat-flap and Piper is just keeping his ears down.) Thug followed me round to the front door, and pressed his nose to the opening gap.
The trouble is, Thug is fast. I can’t get round the corner to the other door before he arrives, let alone open it and get inside. My final trick, once all sheep, geese and chickens were settled for the night, was to climb over the yard gate, walk along the road as quietly as I could, use the sound of a passing car to cover walking up the path, and then try to get through the front door...
I made it. Just. I shut the door in Thug’s face. With the keys still on the outside, but that’s another story.

Thug will move on sometime in the night, but he will be back. No doubt about that, and probably before my partner gets back with the van. There’s only one answer - I need a third door.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Run Away, Run Away...

I’ve written about the downfall of the alpha male before. It doesn’t matter what the species, when that fight comes, the top beast versus the challenger, there is no first and second place, there is first and last. When the alpha male loses, he falls to the bottom – if he lives.
It’s just happened to Party Pants, our top cockerel, and now Neo is the bird. Just to be clear – this not just a little punch up where Party Pants walks away muttering I could take him if I wanted to. This is a cock fight – pecking, clawing, slogging it out until only one is left breathing. Or, with the aid of welly intervention, only one is left standing. And they have to be separated with a welly, because no-one in their right mind puts a hand down there. Not if they like the way the skin goes round it as a continuous covering.
Some years ago, we got a call from a neighbour. A young cockerel of ours thought the best trick for getting food and sex was to hang out with the neighbours hens. We got the call because the neighbour’s cockerel was a big bruiser who had just kicked the living crap out of ours. We carried the bleeding heap home, patched him up as best we could, sprayed the multiple puncture wounds with antiseptic and nursed him in a quiet dark place with glucose feeder and warmth for a day or so. Then he died.
Party Pants in his prime
So, this is Party Pants, the loser, battered and bloody but with no major penetrating wounds, on account of that welly intervention. The trouble is, his time spent at the top of the heap, high on testosterone-fuelled triumph, has erased the two basic survival skills that every young cockerel learns. Run. Away. Two words, two skills, but they go together.
Party Pants has clearly forgotten both. Take run. It’s not complicated. Run, don’t walk, don’t dawdle, don’t pause to inspect an interesting blade of grass, just run, and keep running, because Neo hasn’t had time to forget running. Neo is good at it. All he has to do is master a new skill to go with run: after. Interestingly enough, Neo has grasped it immediately, and run after so easily leads to catch up, and inflict violence, all because Party Pants hasn’t yet got back into the essential skill of run.
And then there is away. That matters. Not just over there, or perhaps if I stand in this corner, but away. Far away. So far away that Neo no longer wants to run after, because all those hens are his now. So far away that it’s clear that Party Pants no longer even thinks of dipping any appendages into the gene pool. Being top bird is all about possession.
Party Pants is in denial and needs to work on away. Particularly when he can not resist the urge to crow, the great chicken expression of come on, if you think you’re hard enough. (Or, Hey! I’ve got a great big tonka. Very difficult to tell those two apart.) The only concession to defeat: Party Pants is crowing quietly, with his beak between his knees. And frankly, in his current state, I bet his toes are whispering back: come closer and we’ll show you we’re hard enough.
In time, Neo will probably settle down and not need to re-iterate his victory. For now Neo has to assert himself, hence the run after with attendant violence. And he also has to assert himself with the hens, because when he’s not looking, or when Party Pants has managed enough away, certain girls are still hanging around with the old top cock. So Neo is asserting himself, frequently and persistently. There’s an old joke: a god and a mortal woman after a night of wild sex, and he says I’m Thor, and she says, You’re sore? I’m so sore I won’t... Well, you know the rest. If you could translate it into chicken, our hens would get the punchline before you could finish. For now, Neo is asserting; eventually the shine will wear off. If he would just stop polishing.

And Party Pants will re-learn run and away. Or get used to the pain.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Two Mega-Nits of Ram

I was never any good at Rubik’s Cube, but imagine one covered in wool, dripping wet, fighting back and now try to solve it in the dark, by lamp-light.
I’ve been away for a week and drove home Saturday afternoon, pre-warned by my partner that Pad and Earl, two of the rams, had got their horns tangled and were currently inseparable. My partner had tried to get them apart on her own, one ram clamped between her knees, trying to move the other. No chance.
All I had to do, after an exhausting week and a five hour drive, was disentangle two-times twenty kilos of testosterone-driven stupidity, in the dark, ideally without losing any fingers.
Just nod if you can hear me...
Our Soay rams have large, curved horns. Imagine something with a two-inch diameter coming out of your skull above your eye, curving backwards and round the back of your ear, down and forwards along your jawline and then, if you have the deluxe version, curving up and back towards your ear... Those horns are big beasts, and tough enough for a ram to batter at a telegraph pole just for fun, or smash a gate off its hinges when bad things like worming are about to happen.
Fancy a hook-up?
Now picture two rams who have twisted their horns together like a pair of corkscrews until the last minute when a jiggle and a shove has left them locked together. It’s a little bit like that early scene in the Hunt for Red October, a narrow passage and only one way in. By the time I got home, the pair of them had had hours of pushing and shoving, failing to find just that right combination of twist and push to get back out again. The other rams had, naturally, been helping – with two of the top males locked together the others took turns in battering them up the backside. Rams are like that.
We looked by lamp-light, we tried, got covered in **** but in the end, we gave up. We did try to get them to take some water because they had to be getting dehydrated, but they were both too busy: gotta shake loose that b****** that’s got hold of my horns.
So let’s try again tomorrow, in daylight, with an option on calling the vet to cut the ends off their horns.
So, Sunday morning, when vets are especially expensive, we looked at the problem again. Really, if it was just a pair of spiral rings to disentangle, it would be easy, but with the rest of the ram attached, not so much. First there is the matter of noses. I looked, I saw the way to undo it, if only the ram’s nose wasn’t there. It was obvious that the two spirals could be untwisted, but once the nose of one ram is firmly wedged against the head of the other the untwisting stops. Then there was a clearance problem – those horns are big and Pad’s horns curve an inch or less from his jaw, so only the thinnest tips of Earl’s horns can get through that gap.
I could see what I wanted to do, sort of, but I couldn’t just wave two rams around in the air. Look... if we could just float Pad at knee-height, and twist Earl like this...
The solution was an old, dead dining chair out of the barn. With Pad lying on his side on the chair, held steady by my partner, I could turn Earl upside down and lie him on his back. It sounds easy, but now factor in the furious wriggling, the surprise of a ram trying to pick my nose with his back hooves (still tingles a few hours on), the need to blow my nose to remove the sudden injection of mud, grass and sheep-s**t, and the problem becomes more tricky.
If only I could see what was going on. Forget the nose and the attendant eye-watering, I could either hold Earl or look at what I was doing, so the un-screwing of the horns had to be done by touch. So, just put a finger in that gap, test which way the curve runs, get finger out again quickly when one of the woolly b******s moves suddenly, and then try again. Those horns that shake telegraph poles and destroy gates are not actually round, more triangular in cross-section, and would easily purée my finger with their ridged edges.
I was so nearly there when Pad decided he didn’t like the chair. My partner was trying to hold him, hold the chair, check he wasn’t about to break his neck... and then I lost my grip on Earl. I’m not sure who was the most surprised out of the four of us. That final extra wrench was either the answer, or I had succeeded just in time to save the rams from serious injury. Whatever really happened, they were no longer linked.
We got them on their feet, and they went and hid under the bushes in the corner of the field. Together. The little ******s has been trying to get apart for the best part of a day, and now they huddled together for safety against the big mean people that just got them untangled.

That’s sheep for you.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Ginger Yo-yo

The saga of Thug, aka Drang, aka The Purring Death, was drawing to a close. His owners kept him in for a few weeks to get him settle back in and our other cats relaxed again, even to the point of Ginge returning to a favourite night-time spot between the pillows, purring in my ear. It’s not perfect - Ginge and Piper have indicated their displeasure that their preferred point of access to the house through the fan-light window is now blocked, but it seemed like a sensible precaution,
As it turns out, an essential precaution. Thug is back, and he still doesn’t understand cat-flaps.
I had just got back from a day working in Plymouth, returning via Cornwall Farmers, and there was young Thug, eager and perky, just wanting to be loved. The fact that I had a van-load of sheep and poultry feed to shift was irrelevant.
In the end, we compromised – a certain amount of Thug-loving and then he got to follow me around as I carried 25kg feed sacks from van to store. That had to include heavy hints that I should open the back door, offer snacks, make sure the duvets were set right for wiping his paws – the usual. The hints got heavier when nothing was delivered. (This all suggested that an incident of scrabbling at windows at four in the morning a few days previously was probably Thug.)
In due course, the van was empty and, whilst Thug is a practising psychopath, he is also very loving and trusting (unless you happen to be another cat), so getting him boxed up and in the back of the van was easy. Then it was just a drive down the hill to drop him off.
The very next day... there was Thug, in search of love, food and a comfy bed. He was more wary about the van this time, but my partner joined the game. A bit of stroking and Thug was lured back into captivity and down the hill in the new Cat Taxi service, straight in to home, into the large bag of dog food for a snack. And I do mean in. For some reason, Thug is partial to dog food, and all the better eaten straight from the bag, leaving paw-prints on the inside just to show he was there.
After a few days respite... Taxi!
The incidence of Thug visits has dropped off. From time to time, I email his owners to give the Drang Report, which really ought to start with something like early heavy down-paws will lead to light outbreaks of violence later in the day. He still comes to visit, but for the last week my partner has been away with the van. No taxi service means that Thug has to walk home which has clearly taken the shine off things. OK, strictly speaking, Thug is not impressed with being driven down the hill. However, when he is hanging around, trying to get in, we can walk round the house and use the front door because he has worked out that the front of the house is the Cat Taxi pick-up zone. The reduction in visits is probably down to the lack of snacks and warm duvets to relax on.
Today, he was back again, wailing outside the window, wailing on the back door step, a terribly sad and mistreated moggy desperately in need of love. And other cats to bite. It’s nice to see him, I do miss him, but we have to keep discouraging him for the sake of the others. Ginge is still spooky, and insecure about her purring-gooseberry routine between the pillows, whilst Piper’s fur is just starting to grow back properly from the last time Thug bit him.
For now, we are all coping.

I can see Summer being a problem – doors and windows open, easy access for our visiting Ginger yo-yo.