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Arnold is lovely! Is she getting a new name?

Nah, she’s been Arnold for this long, she’ll continue to be Arnold. It just fits her, somehow.

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Ok…question. I know you eat some of your chickens. How do you decide which ones….well, get the ax? I know you could not pick one that you have named and are attached to…but how do you not get attached to them all? Then, is it hard to see them “missing” from then on?

Usually Fred’s the one who decides which chickens go. Most often what he does is cull the roosters. You can only have so many roosters before they start fighting with each other, so if we have a lot of young roosters who are coming of age, it’s time for him to do some processing. Most of the time, the hens get to stick around, unless we’ve had a spring or summer where we’ve had a lot of chicks added to the flock. Generally what we try to do is keep the docile, well-behaved hens. If we have an aggressive hen who picks on the other hens or the chicks, she needs to go. But I’d say 85% of the time, the chickens that he processes are roosters.

And the ones who are really distinctive – Arnold, the Rock Star, Cruella, Meredith Grey – are really considered pets (who provide us with eggs!) and will live out their natural lives with us. It’s maybe not fair that they get an edge over the other hens that way, but – well, it’s just the way it is.

It was a whole lot harder with the first chicken we processed, because we only had 12 chickens at that point, so her absence was very noticeable. With 60 chickens, I tend not to get as attached to them (except for the notables, which I named above).

Also, I should add that we don’t eat as much chicken as you might think. When Fred processes chickens, he does several at a time, and right now we’ve got a freezer full.

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It looks like you have two roosters right now — do they ever fight? Or are there enough lady chickens to go ’round? How many chickens do you guys have at this point?

We’ve got two big roosters right now, and one younger one, who’s coming of age. The two roosters don’t fight, but that’s because there’s one (Toasty) who has declared himself the boss of everything, and the other rooster is going along with that. With the third, younger, rooster coming along, Fred has to decide whether to keep the two older ones, or replace one of the older ones. I think he’s leaning toward replacing one of the older ones (and I have no idea which he’s planning to keep), in the interest of adding new blood to the flock (he wasn’t hatched here, so isn’t related to any of the older hens).

There are enough lady chickens to go around, thankfully! Fred guesstimates that we’ve got about 60 chickens, altogether, which is a pretty good number for us.

I will be honest, here, and say that when George and Gracie are gone (which will be years yet, they’re only 5 years old), I’ve suggested that we go back down to a dozen or so chickens. Because honestly, there are two of us – we truly don’t need THAT many eggs!

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Robyn, are you missing the garden this year, or would it have been hard to keep up with under your current two-litter regime? Also, muscadines are yummy.

I miss being able to go out into the garden and pick a handful of cherry tomatoes to have with lunch – but I’m not missing the work, especially with it being so hot and humid right now. I wouldn’t have had any problems keeping up, even with the two litters going. At least, I don’t think I would have!

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Wait a minute.. Tommy.. Kissed Stinkerbelle? He reciprocated the love? *thud*

It’s more that Stinkerbelle is the one who initiates the cuddle sessions, but Tommy goes along with them. He’s always happy to lick the ears of any cat who comes along and demands it. And Stinkerbelle demands it plenty!

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I must have entirely missed this before by the way, but what’s with Tommy’s neon green claws??

We were having an issue with Tommy scratching so hard that he had big, bloody wounds around his neck. The vet diagnosed him with Eosinophilic granuloma complex, and while we were trying to solve that issue, we put SoftPaws on his back claws to stop him from digging until he was bloody. Tommy underwent a course of steroids and is now on Atopica, and it seems to be doing the job. As his nails shed, the caps fall off with them, and eventually they’ll all fall off.

For the record, they’re supposedly glow in the dark caps, but I have yet to see any glowing.

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So you have two bottle babies left – but are they all using the litter box now, or do you still have that duty, too?
(Inquisitive mind wants to know…)

Kittens actually tend to start using the litter box before they start eating on their own (usually). The Starks are all using the litter box (and have been since they were about 3 1/2 weeks old – they weren’t perfect at hitting the litter box back then, but now at 5 1/2 weeks old, it’s been several days since they had any accidents.)

On an interesting (to me, anyway) note, I haven’t seen any of the Starks eating litter. Kittens usually do – it’s why I use plain clay non-clumping litter when they’re first learning the litter box – but not the Starks. Either it hasn’t occurred to them, or they tried it when I wasn’t watching, and found it lacking!

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Same coworker who’s trying to find homes for the kittens showed me this today, and I near about passed out from all the cute. It’s got a sad backstory, but does have a happy ending and the CUTE! OMG there is so much cute! Makes me want to learn how to crochet/knit… just in case.

I have REALLY got to learn to knit and/or crochet!

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Robyn, perhaps it’s time to take up the ukulele, then you could make videos like this one.

YouTube link.


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I know for someone good with plants it’s called “having a green thumb” but what’s it called when you can grow kittens so well?

A fuzzy thumb?

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But, this: “then one day you have kittens who can eat food on their own, off a plate, and NOT make a huge mess of it!”

When exactly does that happen? Our current ruler of the roost just turned 12 and still makes a gigantic mess. We have to put down paper so we don’t have to wash her placemats three times a day. I even had the vet check her out several times because I was worried something was wrong with her teeth/mouth.

Yeah, I should have said that sometimes that doesn’t actually happen… or maybe she’s waiting ’til she hits the big 1-3, and then she’ll straighten up and eat right!

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Are Norbert’s eyes still blue?!

No, they photograph as blue in some lights, but they’re actually green.

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Ok, so this is embarrassing, but I dreamt about one of your fosters last night. It was Jon Snow, who, you will be possibly amused to know, speaks with a British accent. The cutest little growly British accent you ever heard.

“Helloooo, my name is Jon Snoooow.”

Did he demand a cuddle? Because in real life, he totally would!

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Robyn, the Stark kittens, as they’re bottle babies, do they ever knead? Is that a learned or automatic response in kittens?

It’s an automatic response – I think! – but I have yet to have the Starks knead on me. Between the failure to knead and the failure to eat litter, I think maybe I’ve got some unusual kittens!

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Though they look blue here, I SWEAR Norbert doesn’t have blue eyes. No matter what color eyes he has, though, he is one awesome little dude.

Deep Thoughts, with Scorch. (I imagine those thoughts go along the lines of “I bet it’s almost time to eat…”)

Ember does this particular move a lot. She climbs up, peers over the side of the bed to see what’s going on, and then drops back to the floor.

Then she goes to sit in the sun and take a nap.

Dragons on the cat tree in my bedroom.

Pretty Puff.

I’m going to just start calling Ember “The Peanut”, because she’s such a tiny little peanut of a kitty. All her brothers and sister weigh around 3 pounds, but she’s only 2 pounds, 6 ounces. One day maybe she’ll grow into those ears – or maybe not!

Ruth is such a sassy little monkey.

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I can’t swear that it isn’t just a stain from food that he got on his face, but it kind of appears that Jon Snow is starting to get some orange on his forehead.

“Stop biting me, Hodor!”

Kittens this age sure seem to spend a lot of time laying around with their mouths open, waiting for someone or something to come along that they can bite.

Arya is the toy inspector.

In the two days since I took this picture, climbing the little cat tree has become old hat to the Starks. In fact, Arya likes to sleep on top of the cat tree.

“How do I…?”

“This wall isn’t as easy to climb as I thought it would be.”

In House Stark, NO ONE uses the litter box alone. EVER.

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Corbie likes to hang out under the table.

It’s outside the line of kitten traffic, but he can still keep an eye on them!


2012: “Okay, you got your pictures, lady. Now vamoose.”
2011: Cori don’t care ’bout no spayin’ nonsense.
2010: Hello, feral kitten. (Except, he wasn’t. And we eventually named him Martin.)
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: Maryanne has a hissy fit. Tommy does not care.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.



7-19-13 — 21 Comments

  1. I know you say it all the time, but i’m gonna say it again – Corbie is so beautiful. 😀

    Ahh thanks for explaining the green claws – i’ve never heard of softclaws! They sound very clever, and an excellent idea. Poor Tommy though, i’m glad he is getting better. 🙂

  2. “Kittens this age sure seem to spend a lot of time laying around with their mouths open, waiting for someone or something to come along that they can bite.”

    Little feline bear traps!

  3. Corbie is a handsome one, no doubt about that. Just look at that face, I’d be picking him up and smooching him 496 times day. Much to his delight, I’m sure, lol.

    Shame the Starks have no toys to play with. They look so boooored.

  4. You forgot to mention that Corbie is gorgeous. I almost forgot he is!

    About the messy eating, is it because they push the food outside the plate? Did you try using a bowl instead? It would have to be one with a low edge because they’re so wee, but for older cats, it should work. It works with my 10 year old cat.

    And you need to adopt Ember. Although you seem to be more attached to Norbert.

  5. Love Ember peering over the bed.

    I have to admit, I am not up on Game of Thrones so I don’t get the reference, but the HODOR! thing tends to crack me up.

    I don’t know if you saw the mention on facebook (under my real name) about Big Cat Rescue in Florida. They have a new bobcat kitten named: Khaleesi

    • Get with the program!!! You can get past seasons/episodes on Netflix! It is a MUST watch! 🙂

    • Random Felines, I just wanted you to know that you are not alone about being “not up on Game of Thrones.” In fact, were it not for this blog, I wouldn’t even know of its existence. (Yes, I guess I do live under a rock….)

  6. OK I had to interrupt reading your post to ask a question. (I promise I will get back to the kitties in a moment when I’m done.) You talked about Tommy’s skin problems, and Atopica – which I’ve never heard of. Thank you for the link!

    We have a problem with my Tonkinese, Frank. He’s got skin allergies, affecting mostly his hind legs and his arms. He scratches/gnaws at them a lot. Vet gave him a steroid shot and said that might clear it up. It returned so now he’s on 2mg of Chlorpheniramine (1/2 tablet) 2x a day. I can pill him fine, but the half pill scratches his throat, I think, and he coughs after I give it to him a bit.

    Tried grinding it up and hiding it in a treat. No go. He won’t eat the treat, although his brother sure will! Do you have any suggestions? Right now we’re trying to pill him and immediately give him wet food as a treat in hopes that softens any scratching the pill does going down.

    Any suggestions or thoughts from you would be great. You’ve had hundreds of cats, I’ve only had 3 and this is the first one with skin allergies. He’s such a sweetie pie, I hate that giving him these pills makes him uncomfortable. Thanks.

    Obligatory photo of Ray (the grey one) and Frank (with points) looking like I’ve caught them engaged in something a little x-rated. 🙂

    • On pilling cats –
      I keep small medication syringes. If I need to pill a cat I get a little water in the syringe, pop the pill in the mouth, hold the mouth closed for a moment and then squirt in a little water to help them swallow. If you are not fast enough they may have time to spit out the pill, so you can try keeping the mouth closed and put the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth and squirt.
      We (humans) always take our meds that way, makes sense for the kitties too!
      Good luck!

    • Re pilling problems: oral suspensions are the only way to go. Please ask your vet for a pharmacist in your area that does suspensions. If there isn’t one in your area, please look online. I used a pharmacy in Seattle that will mail them, and I’m pretty sure Bigelow’s (which offers kitty-minded flavors ranging from tuna to beef) In New York City will do so. Both places saved my cat’s life — she was unpillable, but
      thanks to the miracle of the suspension, I could simply squirt each dose on her food). I really don’t know why vets aren’t more in the know about suspensions! But back to today’s photo fest — if only I could kitnap Dragons and Starks alike, and throw in King Corbie for good measure.

      • Oh that sounds really good. We have a compounding pharmacy nearby, wonder if I could just take the meds over there and have them compound it such that some volume of liquid = the 2mg he needs morning & night. Tuna flavor would help matters greatly! Thanks for the suggestion.

        Hey look! A Google search turned up just this right near me. Thank you! http://www.ccnprx.com/vets-animal-owners/ LOL – another edit – Just called the vet and will pick up a compounding Rx to take over there this afternoon. You are a lifesaver!

        • Cagney takes two medicines that we have compounded…she is OK with a syringe squirt. We tried tuna and also chicken flavoring…but sometimes it is too strong, so now we go with plain, followed by a treat. I credit the pharmacists, along with my vet and her staff, as being part of the team that has gotten Cags to 19 years old and still going strong.

  7. My cat Gemma,who is about 7 months old,is also white with blue eyes,and then she has a brownish striped tail and light beige ears.She has started getting dark patches on her face (in the shape of an M) as well as on her hips and shoulders.Also under her paws.She almost looks like some kind of flame point/lynx point Siamese mix.My older cat (who is the mama in the house) always washes Gemma on these spots,thinking she must be really dirty.It’s hilarious!

  8. oh Ember…what is it with cats scaling up the side of beds? Trixie started it as a kitten, but even now at 3 years old and 12 pounds, she still does it! And does it even though she flies to the top of my table, counters, cabinets and china hutch with ease! Needless to say, my comforter is the worse for wear because of this trick… Silly cats! 🙂

  9. Corbie the Gorgeous! Love the brown tabbies with caramel coloring (I have a polydactyl one of my own). How is he doing, back-end wise? I remember there was a problem, then some medication, then maybe a cessation of medication? Or maybe I have it wrong re: medication… At any rate, I hope he’s well, but he’s lovely no matter what!

  10. The picture of the Toy Inspector killed me, with the round body and little legs and calico colors!
    My fosters the Peanut Butters came to us at four or five weeks and never showed any signs of interest in eating litter, either. At seven weeks I finally quit with the clay litter and went to clumping.

  11. My little (ha!) Yenta (who is also called Peanut, tho she’s now the largest of the brood) has never kneaded once in 13 years. I guess she was more than ready to leave her mama. She’s the ONLY cat I’ve ever known who doesn’t knead. In all honesty, I’m glad, cause this girl has some serious OCD and she would knead and make biscuits until the cows come home and my head would seriously splode!

    Oh, and Corbie? Gorgeous, as usual 😉

  12. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you’d ever had a cat with Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex–my cat was diagnosed with it two summers ago. He’s been getting steroid shots several times a year, but the times between when he needs them has been getting increasingly smaller. I know it’s not good for him to have too many steroid shots…and it’s also really difficult for me to get him to the vet every two months. He looks absoultely horrible a lot of the time (swollen foot pads, big swollen bottom lip, bloody scratches all around his ears), but he seems to be in good spirits. I’m going to ask my vet about Atopica–we really need to find something to help my little guy! If you find anything else that helps Tommy–I’d love to hear about it!

  13. My husband the geek and I less than three this video and song. Around 1:35 when the kitty looks up at her all of a sudden then goes back to batting/strumming I crack up every time. Then around 2:00 it yawns and at 2:20 when the singer laughs and well I can go on and on. Just know that I definitely <3 this song and video.