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Can I ask what is on the collars when then go out?

We have an electric fence around the back yard (in addition to the actual fence itself). If they get too close to the fence, their collar emits a warning beep. If they keep going, they get a short zap. It only takes once for them to get the idea. I’m planning, this summer, to put a barrier around the top of the fence so I can take the collars off of them. I hate how they look in pictures!

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Does Miss Stank give you any warning when she’s had enough petting or does she go straight for an artery?

She pretty much goes for the jugular. You MIGHT be able to figure out when she’s reached her limit – her tail swishing gets a little more vigorous – but most of the time it seems to be out of the blue. She’s gorgeous, but she’s evil.

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I love watching the racoons and the possom on your porch, but aren’t you worried about rabies?

I’m actually not that worried about rabies – all the cats are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. However, there was something else entirely going on out there that didn’t WORRY me, per se, but it certainly made me move the feeding station off the front porch, pronto. A movie for you (it’s not gross, nothing explicit).

I’m no raccoon expert, but I know marking behavior when I see it. My poor doormat.

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My father is notoriously bad at naming animals. Any white animal will be “Snowball” or “Snowie;” any brown animal will be “Brownie” or “Red” (depending on the shade of brown); any black animal will be “Blackie” or “Midnight.” If the animal is of mixed coloration, then it will be “Lady,” “Sugar,” or “Princess” if it’s a female and “King,” “Rover,” or “Doc” if it’s a male. And yes, if it has a lot of fur, it will be “Fluffy.” It runs in his family: The last four cats that his dad and stepmother owned were named Fluffy, Princess, Fluffy, and Fluffy. (Consecutive, not concurrent.)

My mother, occasionally my brother, lately my son, and I usually overrule his names and name the animals ourselves; sometimes it doesn’t work. I’ve had a dog named Honda for almost 10 years now and he still calls her Harley and acts baffled when I correct him to Honda. And he usually refers to her as “him.”

I wish I were more creative at naming my pets, but then I compare myself to him and feel better.

One of my favorite – but sometimes not-so-favorite, depending on how creative I’m feeling – things to do is name the kittens. The problem is that very often the names I think are awesome Fred doesn’t care for, and vice versa. We’ve agreed on all our permanent residents’ names, though, so that’s something.

The problem is that I always want to name the fosters right away so they don’t forever get dubbed “the black one” (or whatever) in my brain and then I have to say “the black one, I mean (kitten’s name)” for their stay with us.

If, theoretically, a white cat showed up on my side porch and I looked at him and thought “Huh. He looked younger on the front porch cam, but he looks like an adult. In fact, he looks kind of old.” and then said cat made it clear that he was going to stick around, I would probably want to give him a name, right? But what if I couldn’t think of a name and he didn’t really look like a “Snowball”?

At that point, I might Google “Old White Man” to see what came up, and – THEORETICALLY, of course, it’s not like this REALLY happened or anything – might click on the first link which led to a blog that ranted about Rupert Murdoch and I might think to myself “Hey, I like the name Rupert, that’ll work.”

But like I said, I’m just discussing what could happen in some other world where an old (maybe not so much old as middle-aged – he’s 6, according to the vet) white boy cat showed up in our driveway. That might be how I’d come up with a name for him. That would never really happen, that would be LUDICROUS, ha ha ha ::sob::

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Say “hello” to Rupert, who is currently sleeping off his neutering in a crate in the garage. ::sigh::

(PS: Good GOD do unneutered tom cats STINK.)

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Saw this and thought of your wee kittehs


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I always love the posts about kitties, but I also really like your Crooked Acres posts, Robyn. I’d be interested in hearing the story of how you and Fred came to the decision to leave city life and live a more sustainable life on a farm. Like, was it a lifelong dream that you had?

It wasn’t really a lifelong dream, and to be honest, I don’t know that we initially intended to go as far with it as we have. It started with a desire to own more land. Our first house was in a very nice subdivision of Madison, convenient to everything, and we liked the location, but felt crowded on all sides by our neighbors. We started looking for a house on more land after we’d been living there for about three years, but while we looked at houses that I thought were fine, we ultimately ended up buying a larger house on less land about a mile from the first one (our first house sold, and we were desperate to find one we liked, which is how we ended up with another house in another subdivision).

We lived in that house for five years, and then Fred got the itch to start looking for a house again. Our daughter was a Senior in high school, and he just wanted to get a feel for what was out there; it was our plan to start seriously looking the next Spring/ Summer. So one Saturday we drove out to look at a house we’d seen a listing for. It was clearly not our cup of tea, we could tell just by looking at it from the outside, so we headed home. As we did, we drove by this house, which had a “for sale by owner” sign in the front yard, and I made Fred stop so I could write down the phone number.

When we got home, he called the owner. The good news was that the house was on 4 1/2 acres. The bad news was that we couldn’t see it ’til Monday. In the meantime, the owner sent us pictures of the inside, and I can tell y’all that I fell in love with this house before I ever stepped foot in it. We must have driven by the house 20 times in the course of the weekend.

So we finally got to see the inside of the house, loved it, and immediately made an offer on it. We closed on it at the end of September (I think), and spent the next six months or so renovating the inside – mostly painting and having the floors refinished.

At some point after we made the offer on the house, Fred started talking about chickens. We got our first batch of 12 the following Spring. Fred fenced off a corner of the back yard for their yard, and it wasn’t long before we were letting the chickens out into the back yard to run around during the day. When I got REALLY tired of seeing chicken poop all over the back yard, Fred made a larger coop to the left of the back yard (the chickens could stand at the fence and stare at me, hoping I’d toss them treats). Ultimately, we decided that since the back forty was going to waste, we’d fence it in, Fred would build a REALLY big coop, and we’d put the chickens back there.

Then we decided hey, why not get pigs! and Fred fenced off part of the back forty, and we got pigs. And in and amongst all that, we had a big garden, which we’ve improved upon (I think) every year.

So all of this is to say that we didn’t necessarily intend all that we’ve got going on, but it’s working out well for us. Sometimes it seems like a lot of work, and we threaten each other with the idea of selling everything and moving back to Madison, but more often we just wish we had more land! There are things we miss about living in the ‘burbs (sidewalks and the convenience of having stores two minutes away) and things we VERY MUCH do not (living so close to neighbors), but neither of us is feeling any real desire to move. We love this house!

(If you’re interested and you’ve never seen them before, there’s a page here with house “tours” of each of our houses, and a side-by-side comparison of the rooms in this house.

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The Noms are at the absolute apex of cute! And attention, fellow lunatics: On May 5 at 11:34 pm eastern time, the moon will line up with the Earth and the Sun, making it look 14% bigger and 30% brighter than any other moon this year. (I have a feeling Jake will be watching.) Seize the day (or, rather, night): the next super moon this big won’t be till 2016.

I know I’ll be staying up late (or at least trying to!) to see that!

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Playful monkeys.

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Am I waving a toy over their heads, do you suppose?

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“Hey! Leave my ear alone!”

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I love how Newbery can barely stand the excitement and has to hug Darwin close while he keeps his eye on the feather teaser. And doesn’t she look pleased?

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Emmy is doing well. She’s still sleeping off the effects of the surgery (having adult cats spayed is a whole different animal than having kittens spayed – the little ones appear to barely know anything’s been done after about 12 hours) and spending most of her time (when not sprinkling litter everywhere) sleeping in her wall basket.

I’ve been hanging out in her room, but she’s not showing much interest in me. I’ve scratched her head a few times and she allows it but doesn’t really seem to enjoy it. I was scratching her head yesterday and she got an itch in her ear and suddenly shook her head, and it startled me so much I levitated about half a foot. I’m not saying she thought it was funny, but she DID look a little amused.

2012-05-04 (6)

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(Technically, Alice joined the family before Corbie did – Corbie was here before her, but we officially adopted her before we adopted him. I’ll finish up the permanent resident profiles with Corbie tomorrow. I do intend to cover the permanent residents who have passed on, but there’ll be a break before I get around to that.)

About Alice.

Alice will be two years old in June.

When I think of the day – or really, I should say the evening, because it was after dark – that Alice showed up, I think of being REALLY FREAKIN’ COLD (it was December 2010). Fred spotted her – he almost always spots the cats who show up before I do – when he opened the door to step outside. Something ran away from the food bowl on the side porch, and he thought “Was that a cat?” and then went down the steps to see. Alice ran from the side stoop to the front porch (where there’s a heated cat house, and since it was mid-December, the heat was turned on), and when Fred followed her to the front porch, he found her sitting in the doorway to the cat house. When she saw him, she meowed at him, and then ran around to the other side of the house where there’s a huge boxwood. She ran under the bush, and stayed there no matter how much he sweet-talked her.

He came in to get me, and I followed him outside. We could see Alice, but she was too far under the bush for us to reach her, and though we tempted her with all manners of food, she refused to move. Finally, we set up a trap on the front porch baited with mackerel. Then we had to go run an errand in town, and when we returned half an hour later, she was in the trap.


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She was a terrified little girl, didn’t want us to pet her, didn’t want anything to do with us. It’s my policy that cats and kittens who haven’t been tested don’t come into the house, and so we set her up in the old blue coop with beds and a heater and a stuffed animal and food.

The next day, we had to take the inside of the blue coop apart, because she was hiding in the old nesting boxes to get away from us.

It took a few days, but eventually Fred won her trust. I took her to the vet to be examined and tested, and that was when we found out that this kitten, who I’d estimated was about two months old, was actually more like six MONTHS old. At a later examination, the vet said that she didn’t think that Alice would get much bigger than seven pounds.


Alice lived in the bathroom for a few weeks, and once we knew that she was disease-free, she went to live with the Brady Bunch, in the foster room. (Her official foster name was Alice Nelson, which was the full name of Alice the maid on The Brady Bunch. But you knew that, right?) She’s not really a big fan of other cats, though she and Reacher had a special relationship wherein she demanded that he cater to her every whim and he obeyed.


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Despite her semi-feral start, Alice has turned out to be a great big lovebug. She loves Fred the most (the crazy girls always do), but she kinda likes me, too. She likes to spend her days alternating between the back yard and the platforms in the front room, and her evenings staying where she can see Fred, sometimes on top of him and sometimes across the room, depending on her mood. She doesn’t really have any other cat friends, but she can occasionally be seen snoozing near Tommy.

Alice did not stay tiny, and despite the vet’s guess at her eventual weight of around 7 pounds, she is now an average-sized (maybe a tiny bit portly) cat.

I should add that Alice actually DID go off to Petsmart with the Brady Bunch, but Fred missed her so much that less than 24 hours we went and got her, and brought her home.

Nicknames: Alice Mo, Miss Mo.

2011-02-22-07 2011-12-28 (26)


2011: “I was SLEEPIN’, lady. I had a hard night. Of sleepin’. Followed by a hard day. Of sleepin’. You gettin’ the theme here?”
2010: AGGH.
2009: Ingrates!
2008: No entry.
2007: Do you see what I see?
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



5-4-12 — 29 Comments

  1. Thanks for the back story about your homes and changes that brought your to where you are. As a fairly new follower, I also appreciate the links to previous years. This gives me a chance to meet some of your other litters, and extends the awwwwww factore for me just a little longer.

  2. Emmy is very relaxed in that photo – she’s showing her belly and everything. That head shaking thing happens all the time with my two. I find it funny.

    The kittens are gorgeous, the racoons are raccoonish and my, Alice Mo was so tiny once! I’m glad to see that life is good at Crooked Acres. Ahhhhhh!!

    • Newt mostly puts up with Rupert; Rupert, on the other hand, appears to think that Newt is the bee’s knees. 🙂

  3. Alice is such a pretty girl!

    Is Rupert going to be sticking around, or will you try to get him adopted out?

    • To be honest, we don’t actually KNOW that Rupert doesn’t have a home. We SUSPECT that he either wandered off from his home or someone dumped him. It’s kind of an easier-to-beg-forgiveness-than-ask-permission kind of deal where we whisked him off and had him neutered and examined (his claws were in rough shape), and now we’ll start asking around to find out if our neighbors know where he came from. If they don’t, then we’ll likely keep him with the outside bunch. He’s pretty submissive to Maxi and Newt (actually rolls over and shows Newt his belly), so I’m hoping there won’t be any issues.

  4. I clicked over to the first Madison house because I didn’t remember ever seeing the tour. I love that Miz Poo is “the kitten,” as in the only kitten in the house!

  5. Rupert is a good paired-name for Newt, I think. If they get to be buddies and spend lots of time together, you could call them Newpert. That’s got kind of a ring to it, too.

    Newpert. Neeeewwwwwpert. NEWpert! Newperrrrt. Newpertnewpertnewpert. Ah dammit. There goes my day.

    To accompany the question about rabies, it just occurred to me: Do you worry about your outsiders getting other diseases, like FIV? Or is there a vaccination for everything? (I don’t even know what’s vaccine-able, I just nod my head to whatever the vet says and pass over my checkbook.)

    • There’s an FIV vaccine, but once a cat is given the vaccine, it shows up as FIV+ on the combo test. The danger there is that if a cat is picked up by or taken to Animal Control, a positive FIV status would probably end in immediate euthanasia (I don’t KNOW that that’s our local animal control’s policy, but it seems likely that it is). The outside cats get their yearly FVRCP & rabies vaccinations (as do the inside cats), and they’re given the Combo test regularly (not exactly every year, but more often than every two). FIV doesn’t spread as easily as Leukemia, luckily, and they believe that it takes a deep puncture wound (bite) to pass it from one cat to another, which makes unneutered tom cats more likely to get it.

      I’m finding that the problem with the name “Rupert” is I keep saying “Rufus, I mean Rupert.”!

  6. Just a note, raccoons can carry all kinds of diseases including both feline and canine distemper. Raccoon ringworms can also be transmitted through their feces (or even from handling the babies) and can cause death in humans.

  7. Between Princess and Rupert, I’m starting my day wishing to adopt cats from several parts of the country. If my husband only knew what a crazy cat lady he married (actually, he knows darn well but is willing to compromise… turns out Norman is enchanted by him and he loves Norm, so it was a good match after all, now I just need one for MY legs at night!) Is Rupert the white-kitty-we’ve-never-seen-before from the front porch cam? Will he stick around as a foster or is he a trap-neuter-release kind of cat? I’m fascinated by his head… is he dirty or does he have smudge markings? And where is Papa Peppers?? Enough questions for you? 😉

    I adore Alice Mo the calico (duh). I think she’s mad at you for making Rufus move out. She knows her daddy would never have done such a thing to make her unhappy.

    Oh, one last question… Did you get a new doormat??

    • Yeah, Rupert’s the kitty that I thought was a young cat. He looks small on camera, somehow, but in person (purrson!), he’s clearly an adult (well, and the vet did say that he’s 6!) We’re going to start asking around to see if the neighbors know whether he belongs to anyone around here (some people might have done that before hauling him off to be vetted and neutered but, well, what if we’d found where he belongs and they didn’t want him neutered or vetted because he’s “just a cat” or something ridiculous like that?? Easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission!)

      I didn’t get a new doormat, but I have this cleaning spray that we use to clean the foster room after we’ve had fosters with Giardia and/ or Coccidia, and I sprayed the doormat with that, and hung it in the sun. It smells like a hospital outside the front door now! 🙂

  8. When you adopt a cat you’ve been fostering, do you pay the full Challenger House fee? I’m especially wondering about Alice, who you found and who was only at Petsmart for a day. Although I guess Challenger House did pay for her neutering… Do foster parents get a discount?

    • We do pay the full adoption fee when we adopt one of our fosters. I think that if we wanted a break on the fee, the shelter manager would have NO problem with that, but the adoption fee doesn’t cover much more than the vetting that the fosters get, so I would feel guilty not paying the fee, you know? Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think the adoption fee covered Alice’s vetting, because she had to have a procedure (I can’t think of what it’s called) where she was put under and had a scope down her throat to see why she was wheezing (as it turned out, she had some scar tissue at the top of her throat). So really, she was a bargain! 🙂

  9. Rupert is darling… I hope he sticks around. 🙂 Love the tours. Your home is beautiful. I do have a question: Do you work outside the home? If so, what profession? Just wondering. 🙂

    • No, I don’t work outside the home – the last time I worked was in (I think) 2002ish. I was an office manager at that point, and I quit because, well, I could. I keep so busy during the day (and never get everything done that I wanted to!) that people who work outside the home AND have kids and families to take care of are absolutely amazing to me! 🙂

  10. Alice-Mo the cali-co and she loves her daddy -oh. I can be heard to sing this and Maxi’s ‘Outside Mama” song to my cats every now and again. I’m not clever enough to come up with songs for them though. 😉

  11. Hee, hee, hee….Rupert…I thought that story might be going somewhere!

    Question to the group. Sadly, my mama cat Tabitha, though healthy, has tested postive for FeLV…postive on her first ELISA, negative on the IFA, but today positive again on the second ELISA. Her kittens were negative though on their ELISAs. After much discussion with my vet, we think I need to find Tabitha another home since I have 3 FeLV negative cats in the house (she and the kittens have of course been kept isolated from everyone since I first brought her in the house). I have located a sanctuary for FeLV positive cats near Charleston, SC called Suzie’s Zoo, and made initial contact with Suzie after the first test result came in (hoping the best but preparing myself…). Has anyone dealt with this rescue before? I’ve looked at their Facebook page and they appear to do a lot of good rescue work in the area. The rescue will try to adopt Tabitha out to someone who will take a positive cat on, or keep her there for as long as she lives.

    I am keeping the kittens for now with my vet’s support, and he has actually adopted one of them himself! We will test again in a month, and then we will find them homes one way or another. But any positive thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!!

  12. Your southern raccoons look smaller than ours in the Pacific Northwest, might just be that they are fluffier for the colder climate. In my area you have to be careful not to leave cat food out or you will very quickly have 20 raccoons waiting for their dinner every night. They are awfully cute though:)

    • I’m really not super crazy about the fact that the raccoons are showing up, but if I don’t put food out, HOW will I attract every stray cat in the area?? 🙂 I thought about making a feeding station cats would have to climb up a pole to get to, but… um… raccoons climb, don’t they? It seems like they do, but I’m not up on my raccoon facts!

  13. I LOVED, loved loved, seeing the house tour. It is so wonderful. Your former homes are gorgeous, too! MY GOSH! Leads me to ask a rather personal question – what do you and Fred do for a living? Can I do it too? (LOL)… I do confess I’m rather jealous of you all and your beautiful home and the farm and the land. It is lovely of you to share your life with all of us strangers on the Internet.

    I love your purple bathroom. Might I ask to see a closer picture of the stitching that your grandmother, I think you said – did?

    • Fred’s a software engineer. I just sponge off him. 😉 I’ll get a close-up picture of the sampler my grandmother made, soon.

      • AH. No wonder. A friend of mine out in CA has a lovely husband who writes game software – I don’t know how much he makes but I know it’s a big ton! I’m sure you’re not a sponge, you keep the house together and you help animals find homes. I think you are a superstar. I still remain jealous about the farm and all though!! LOL. Saw you said you were from Maine – I hope to live there someday. Near the water. It’s a pipe dream, anyway!!
        you are so sweet to always answer questions.
        xo sherry

  14. I think Rupert is a great name — it’s on my ‘future boy cat name’ list, along with Milo. The funny thing is that I had planned on naming my next girl cat Alice for a long time, but when I got my Alice — well, she’s not very Alice-like. So she’s Allie most of the time.

    And about unoriginal names — my sister had a cat named Simon (who was originally Annabelle, but obviously that was wrong!) and when she got a girl cat, she became Schuster — Simon and Schuster! A couple years after that, my mom got a pair of cats AND a puppy, and my then-4 year old niece got to name them. She wanted the cats to be Simon and Schuster, like her aunt’s kitties, but since Mom’s cats were both girls, we told her that Schuster would work, but Simon would not. So they became Sabrina and Schuster. So — two female cats in my family named Schuster, which is pretty original. But when it was time to name the puppy, who was solid black, my niece named him Blackie. 10 years later, this embarrasses her a lot, but she’ll always say, “What did you expect me to name him? Snowball??”

    Anyhoo — a long story just to say that naming pets is HARD and I’m pretty sure I’d be calling all the foster kittens Sweetie and Honey!

  15. I am jealous. Kittens, kitties, chickens, ducks, pigs and dogs AND the ability to keep it all going relatively smoothly. You are lucky Robyn!

  16. Aw, it’s a Rupert! I love all-white kitties. He’s probably someone’s “barn cat,” which around here means no worries about food or water, the (unneutered/unspayed) cat will magically live off mice and driveway puddles to a ripe old age.

    Yeah, right.

  17. Oh my. That Rupert is very handsome. I hope all goes well with him.

    Also? I LOVE ALICE. Jus’ sayin’.