Thursday, January 28, 2010
January 30, 2009 - Animal Kingdom
Jan. 30, 2009
As soon as I open the kitchen door to the outside, seven cats enter the house, followed by three big dogs, all wagging their tails which hit me hard on my leg. They look so glad to see me. The cats meow crazily, so I rush to feed them, tripping on a dog. Every time I go out of the door, specially if I am holding some sort of pot, cats come out of several cardboard boxes that are left outside, many of them with garbage. Mommy cat, with one blind eye, jumps out of one, followed by a male black cat with white patch right below its right nostril. The stripped black and white, that showed up at our house without its mom, three Siamese siblings, one of them being smaller and not a perfect one belongs to Clara, who named her Chocottone (chocolate panettone). This one is smaller, skinnier, uncapable of jumping up the table where their food is served, needing extra help. Today Clara made an observation that this kitty had a cold a few days ago and took medicine for it, it has a sore eye, and now it got bit by Leon, our bravest orange brown dog. After all the cats have showed up, another black and white mommy cat shows up. She is mellower and waits for all other cats to eat for her to take her turn, not fighting for a treat. She also got a blind eye. I thing there is some kind of bacteria that are making cat’s eye sore. The three (was born five, but two of them disappeared) kittens are still not able to open their eyes. I may need to take them to the vet soon.
So, we got three adults, one teenager, three children, and three infant cats. If I add some other two occasional visitors, that really adds the number of feline at home.
We have only three big dogs, all adults, three puppies, but I also brought one. The dogs are all mutts, but three of them are big, reminds me of a mix of Rotweiler and Lab, while my puppy resembles a dashhound with long legs. The little puppies were born just a few days ago, and at least four of them were lost. I saw a couple of them smashed and dead, and disappearing afterwards. The mommy, Lila (Clara calls her Lye), did something to them I don’t want to find out.
Leon is the ferocious one. He reigns like a king, in spite of his disability. He contracted some venereal disease and became weak. After that, he got blow-fly sore. We tried to treat it, but he – as my father observed – never cries, get really mad, barking and threatening to bite. We use some spray medicine on his behind, below his tail. Very sensitive area. He always sit on the wrong side, not leaving the wound exposed so we can spray. We did it a few times though. My father tied him, washed his wound with a spray gun machine. Then, he sprayed with medicine. Some other times, he got tied with a very short leash against a pilar, then, I sprayed on, as he turned his head to gnar at me, my father sprayed too. Leon cannot hear a metal ball moving inside the can that he runs away. Besides those two health problems, he also suffers from incontinence. His favorite place to be is by my kitchen door (to the outside).
Lila is a nice female dog, lustrous black with some patches of orange near her eyes. She is slender, with narrow face. Her first birth was good. She had ten live puppies. Her brother, Totty, is all black male, happy, clumsy, who hits me with his tail, steps on my foot, and make all the bad decisions.
Mel, a puppy I brought from Aguas, I had adopted as Clara really wanted a dog. As her father had left not too long before, in attempt to soothe her heart, I agreed to get her from a friend. Mel (means “honey” in Portuguese) is of honey color. She used to be well treated in our old home. She took bath, ate good expensive dog food, had toys, colored collar, daily walks, and mainly, lots of people played with her as she used to be so cute. As soon as she got here, she started to explore the gastronomy world. She ate all kind of feces. My father told me she was waiting for the cat to finish it up to eat it. Mel also tried rotten chicken from the coops. Soon, she abandoned her commercial food and switched to a homemade one I make (I hope it doesn’t treat like her treats.)
Besides all four dogs, there is one more to mention. That’s Miucha. She belongs to Maria Cristina. She was adopted as an adult. She can be easily confused with Mel, for its size and color. But her face is so particular. She looks like she is miserable, begging for food and attention. But in truth, she is smart one who follows her master everywhere. Every time MC comes inside the house, to the bedroom, she follows her. As MC is soft spoken, Miucha doesn’t obey. That’s when I come to play. I try to drive her away every time she enters the house. Sometimes it doesn’t work. She pretends she doesn’t want anything and sneaks in, some other times, she plain challenges me.
So, every morning I can’t step out without food. I first serve the cats on top of a table. With three other dogs eager to eat, I can barely find room to put their rice and meat on the first plate, which suppose to be Leon’s. As I am close, Lila and Totty challenge Leon and try a few bites. I serve Totty a few steps away. Then, I need to run to Lila’s house where she keeps her puppies, and serve her plate. As I walk back, Lila has abandoned hers and goes to check Totty’s, or other way around. Then, Leon comes and eats Totty’s food. Totty, for his turn, goes to Leon’s plate to eat his. Leon is then back to his plate. Totty’s plate, unattented, got eaten by Lila who still keeps her food. I still need to feed Mel who sleeps on the other side of the house. I find her plate and serve the food. I hear something, and go back to find Leon taking cats’ plate by mouth and dropping it on the ground. Meanwhile, Totty, Lila, and Miucha are already circling around, if not eating, Mel’s food.
Animal Kingdom is my house. They reign here. The black male cat named by the kids “Meow Cat Choo Choo” sleeps on top of the microwave oven and comes through an open window at 3:00 am and meows insistenly until someone opens to door so he can go out. Chocottone is the skinniest gluttonous one who fights like a real feline when holding a piece of meat. She crawls onto our shoulder and like to observe our food from there. She specially loves to stay on my father’s shoulder watching him eat or work. I can’t bend or she will climb my back. Miucha comes in and out anytime she wants. Mel, if I get distracted, sleeps on a sofa (feeling guilty) or even on my mom’s lap. Totty steps on my food, the ultimate injury. Lila comes running every time the cats get a treat. Except for Leon, who never comes into the house, all others come in when dinner time is getting close (after 3 pm, even though the dinner is served only at 7 pm). The cats are worst of all. I need to chase them all the time. I don’t want them going to the bedrooms to leave their “scented gifts” or fleas. The stripped one likes to sleep on top of kitchen towels or inside stuffed animals’ box. Two Siamese cats like to jump on top of the table to eat anything they can find. One belongs to Mariana and it is named Milk. The other one, as being an odd number, belong to both Clara and Mariana. He is bigger and meows. I think cats that meow must be male. These two kittens look so pretty, with black extremeties and blue eyes.
Every time I go to the vegetable garden, the Siamese brothers and Lila and Totty follow me. Invariably, they like to step on, or even lay down on top of my newly sowed seedlings. Mel likes to eat compost and egg shells.
I need to find a strategy to tame these dogs and cats. Since I started to cook good foods, they become more and more annoying and behaving as if starved. They are actually fat with big bellies, specially the cats, which get the best. I thought about not cooking rich food any more.
As I like to make soaps, I buy discarted fats, meats, bones, and loose fold of skin from the butcher. I trim them, and cut them up to get tallow. Some pieces are rubbery and hard to cut. It’s a though job. The meat and the cracklings get cooked with rice. To give the dogs other food flavors, I buy them chicken meat. When we don’t have either, I cook with some sausages, or even bacon we use for our own food. No wonder they all love me. Besides the deluxe food, I also give them extra helpings besides more food in their servings. Sometimes I find rice balls rolling around, sign of them ignoring the startch having eaten all the meat.
The puppies are growing strong and fat. Lila ignores her litter in a hot shed, going to rest in our cool varanda tile floor, they cry. They may be hungry. So, I feed them goat milk yogurt. It may be easily digested then cow’s milk.
The kittens got their eyes treated by an antibiotic spray I bought. They are well now, and have jumped out of the cardboard boxes. It could not be more convenient for the Mommy cat. The box is placed on top of the outside table where I feed the cats. The two black kittens have some shades of firey brown and the white one is not totally white. It has some cream colored stripped on her tail, and maybe on her paws and face. Although I wanted this one for myself, she doesn’t look as cute as others.
I talked to my father about our house having too many cats that walk on my raw gnocci I left under the towel or sleeping on the kitchen cloth. They walk on top of the table, sleep anywhere they please. My father, reluctantly, said that we would need to throw them away someday. He didn’t set the date.
Animal kingdom follows its course without much human interference. To say, no cats got thrown away or puppies given away. It was Saturday, my father came up with a decision “OK, I will throw away the cats on Monday!”. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday came and all cats are still bossing around. I found two of them left inside our house (of course, no animals are allowed to sleep in) comfortably sleeping on the softest sofa.
Yesterday, I made scones glazed with chocolate. I covered with a sieve to avoid flies sitting on them. Later, I noticed that the sieve had three distinct triangle chocolate marks. I asked my daughter if she had played with it. No. That was the cats again.
Every day, they challenge my goodwill. Most of them jump on the counter to walk to the stove to steal food or to the set table with dinner. A few seconds of distraction and I find a cat licking its lips or with its face buried in a pot. I get mad, yell very loud for my father to hear, and threaten to get rid of them. He, calmly says “maybe we should put lids on all pots”. Cats are never at fault here.
From all the animals I have mentioned before, a few of them are gone. Chocottone, Clara’s imperfect kitty, was found dead some morning by my sister. She said, it was wet with no other marks. It is a mistery. But MC’s big female dog which is usually kept on leash was off the night before. And I saw her intimidating other cats that same morning. I had to tell Clara about Chocottone. I started very philosophical saying that everything that is born dies some day. Some will go sooner. She was surprised and run to wake up her cousin to tell her. She told me “I feel like crying but I won’t”. But as the days passed and her cousin left, she started to miss her kitty. She would come back looking sad from her hideaway place (under a cashew tree) with empty arms and alone to say she missed Chocottone. The place all reminded her of the kitty she helped to nurse back to health.
She, then, decided to adopt a white newborn kitty I was claiming for myself. As this one, named Sagwa now, grew up, I noticed that it didn’t have a cute face. I had made violent threats to release the mother with all the kittens somewhere a day before Chocottone was gone. Clara, as expected, even though forbidden, placed the kitty on my sofa to poop after hours of smothering with affection. It was not the first time the kids had done this and the cats had done that.
Black and white mommy cat is pregnant again, but it showed up with a sore on her neck. I am treating her.
Of all three puppies that were growing stronger now, one of them suffered some kind of injury. Another mystery. The squint-eyed puppy with no olfative abilities, shy and fearful was near some bushes with flies flying over. I thought to be dead and asked my father to bury it. He came back saying that it was still alive. So I sprayed with silver remedy a few days until it was really dead. I communicated the fact to my father asking him to bury it soon, but he took all day to do it. He was procrastinating. Animal injuries, sickness and death disturb him greatly.
So, we are left with a couple of black puppies I decided to keep. In a flash, they are already eating like a lion, running around my feet make it impossible to walk without tripping, bark and play. For Lila being a bad mother, I have given her (myself) a birth control shot. I have also tried on Mel, but she ran away with the needle still on, spilling out the medicine.
Besides cats and dogs that I cook for and treat everyday, I also have three caged Guinea hens. They are fun to watch as they are growing bigger and prettier, by changing their brownish feathers into beautiful white speckled over black adult feather. They got no names, and I heard they cannot be made into pets. Too wild. But my hope is that after feeding them, they return home when the big day of releasing them comes. When there are strange people around, they make loud noises. Good watch birds too. I am planning to enclose a bit of space for them to be on the ground before releasing them definetely. As any project, it takes time, money, study and skills.
I went to buy some bird food today and saw quails and baby Guineas. They look so cute. If I found any smaller cages, I may bring home a dozen more birds. Besides those four baby chicks that vanished leaving only black fur around the house, and two other Guineas that I carelessly left roaming to disappear, no other accidents or diseases to discourage me. Birds, like my parents, may be my vocation. They had egg farm for over 30 years.
Pets we have only two kinds: cats and dogs. Farm animals, besides my taming Guinea hens, we had only a few beautiful cows that my father had to sell to cover our expenses. Wild animals, I heard of bunnies on the coffee fields. If we had planted soy, they would come to decimate it. None of them came near the house tough. Now, one thing I was pleased to see. A woodpecker at our tree. I would hear a knocking noise and soon I knew it was it. Red top, black with white dots just like Guineas. From the roof, I see flocks of birds. Maritacas, from parrot family green birds fly, perch together and make loud clattering noise. Another mean looking bird is quero-quero, who makes their nest on the ground. I often see imponent hawks flying or standing somewhere. Two owls like to sit on the edge of a roof of an abandoned chicken coop. Among several other anonymous small birds, I see green parakeets on a papaya tree by my kitchen door. Of insects catching our attention, lightbugs and crickets. My father caught a cricket and hid it in his hands. As he squeaze it lightly, it would make noise like a whistle. He came smiling to surprise my daughter. She was scared at first but next day she got one to bring back to him. He smiled. Those are precious moments.
March 13, 2009
Today my father told me that he used to love cats since he was a small child. He once went to someone else’s house that had so many cats that anywhere that the eyes could reach, it would spot a cat. He dreamed of having a house like that. His family kept a cat, but as soon as the kitties were a little bigger, they would give them away. He said, he cried every time.
We have now eight cats, and one of them is heavily pregnant. Soon we are going to have a dozen again. And soon he is going to have a house where any place he lays his eyes on will find a cat.
My sister wrote me an email asking if any cats had died, since population control can be done only this way at our house. On the opposite, they are thriving. They eat very well and if sick, they get treated.
March 24, 2009
I have successfully kept alive three Guinea hens for over five weeks now. They have grown a lot, changing feathers, and becoming young chickens. I heard from the salesman that they were hatched in an incubator, so they are not as skittish as the ones hatched naturally among the weeds.
I have been bringing them out of the cage in the last days. I started with the biggest one. It enjoyed being out, making pleasing noises. As I would distance from its view, it would release a worrysome sound. As I would come back to its vision, it would stop crying. It liked to follow me everywhere. My father told me that when he tractors the field, quero-quero birds all come flying towards him. The rototilling moves the bugs up they are after. As we were out of the sight of the other two, they were also making anxious noise. I took them out one at each time on the first day.
On the second day, I tried by the twos. I didn’t want the whole group feeling independent and flying away to be soon caught by dogs, cats, or hawks. I worked in the garden while leaving them roaming around. As I looked up, I saw my father carrying the third one to my direction. He said he heard the one left crying sadly so decided to join him in.
They don’t know how to fly well yet. They try a little awkward jumps into my direction. I sure feel loved. But the same way that the hens like to follow me, we also got lots of curious expectators. We had all dogs and cats, including the puppies eager to play. Leon was farther away pretending that he was there with no second intentions. Totty and Lila couldn’t hide their desire to jump on them. The puppies didn’t pretend at all. The same way that they burst onto other dogs’ plate, they joyfully chased the hens at the loud screamming of mine. One of them lost some feathers, but came out alive and well.
The female puppy is more contained and obeys quicker. The male one just wants to be merry-go-happy. I worried that this one may be another Totty: awkward, disastrous, fearfull, disobedient, yet happy dog. Just a parenthesis on Totty: my father told me he was very good at finding cows on the pasture. He would go first and then bark when found the missing one.
My afternoons now are filled with all my “children” playing around me in the orchard-garden. I attract the hens to my patch I just hoed to prepare the soil for a new sowing sometime soon. But they don’t come alone.
From what I read, Guinea hens didn’t eat vegetables or fruits, so they wouldn’t damage my garden. However, to my disappointment, they love to eat young shoots. I need to shoo them out from my parsley, carrot, and basil patch. That means, I cannot count of them to exterminate the bugs from my vegetable garden. They wouldn’t revolve the earth with seeds, but they would kill all my seedlings.
So, I found my vocation for birds. I love them. I am holding myself from acquiring more Guinea hens or quails. I just didn’t get them because I don’t have an appropriate cage for the them.
April 8, 2009
My heart sunk as I heard through MC that we needed to get rid of the birds demanded by the man who leases the chicken coups. Challenging his order, I am keeping my Guineas as MC is keeping her Banties. In attempt to set my Guineas free sometime soon, I have released them permanently from the cage and let them range in a fenced area. I have lead them to the vegetable garden and tried to leave them there, but soon they don’t see me, they started to make worried noises. They follow me everywhere, and run or fly up to me when they feel threatened by my puppies. I put them to roost every night up on high, so other animals, specially big dogs won’t get them. I still feed them store bought processed food. By wanting them to eat caterpillars that continue destroying my arugulas, I have brought them there. They just ignored them, prefering to catch fly or other moving bugs. Catterpillar are way too slow to catch their attention as yummy food. Whoever said that they are “semi-domesticated at most”, wild, quarrelsome, noisy, didn’t see my Guineas. They are plain spoiled rotten. My maternal instincts (or overbearing attitudes) took such a care of them that they are not the independent, strong, defensive birds. I rather raised sweet, affectionate pets.
Autumm and I still see the birds in my garden next to the kitchen where we got tall trees. Every day I hear and see parkeets singing in duo unpleasant sounds. Other very hard to see little birds make a tremendous happy noise as if it were spring. I know that they are many, but the branches and the leaves camuflate them well.