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So, last Wednesday night/ Thursday morning, we had a really scary storm with some very strong winds. Fred actually got up at midnight to go out and close the chicken coop so that it wouldn’t get wet inside (we usually leave the big door to the coop open at night so it can cool off a little. He hadn’t really expected it to rain so left it open.), and was so freaked out by how hard the trees were bending and creaking that he thought he was about to die.

We lost power a little after midnight, and it stayed off until 5:30. Which isn’t so bad, except that without the air conditioner running AND without the ceiling fan going, I got pretty warm and miserable. That was of course the exact time that the hottest cats in the house (Miz Poo, Elwood and Tommy) wanted to be RIGHT on top of me, which didn’t help matters.

When I got up at 6:00, our internet was down. Then it came back up for about half an hour ’til we got another strong storm. The power flickered on and off about 7 times, and when it came back on for good, the internet was down and stayed down. We didn’t get internet back until late afternoon on Friday, and since we get our phone through the cable line, the phone was down as well. In addition, the cell signal was going down and coming back up constantly, so you can imagine how thrilled I was.

Thank god for McDonald’s and their free internet.

We didn’t lose any trees, only a lot of branches. We did lose several tomato plants, but that’s not a big deal since we planted way too many of them this year. We were lucky once again, so I’m not complaining.

I’d happily wait ’til next Spring for another bout of really bad weather, though, if it’s all the same to you, MOTHER NATURE.

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Did the tornado and storms that happened a while back not have a major effect on your garden?

They did! The water washed away almost everything we’d just planted, and we had to replant. A few things popped back up (some of the pepper plants and one or two tomato plants), but for the most part we ended up about a month behind due to having to replant. We are in the process of pulling up the squash plants as they die one by one (vine borers got them – they do every year, no matter what we do), and we really didn’t get nearly as much squash as I would have liked. We’ve always had to force summer squash and zucchini on friends and family in previous years, but this year we ate or dehydrated every single one we got. I wish we’d gotten more, but I’m glad we got what we did. I think the tomatoes are doing so well due to how unrelentingly hot it’s been this summer. The cherry tomatoes are doing especially well, and I’ve been dehydrating like mad!

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I have never heard of Rescue Remedy, and I think I may be giving it a try. Do you know anything about GNC Ultra Mega Relax?

No, I’ve never heard of GNC Ultra Mega Relax. Anyone out there given it a try? Do tell!

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Just out of curiosity, whatever happened to Ike, the teeny little orange? I think he was orange? Temporary fosterling who was so sweet and purry? I know he was fostered by another Challenger’s House person after he left you, but he must’ve been adopted by now, right? For that matter, what happened to the two little brother and sister kittens, Sootie and Sweepie I think? that you were temporarily watching?

Awww, wee baby Ike:

It’s been almost two years since he was here, can you believe that? He was only here for a couple of days. He was originally going to go to the shelter because at that time the shelter manager had room for him, and she was going to care for him. So I left him at the vet, where she was going to pick him up, but then another Challenger’s House foster mum, Heaven, happened along first and snatched him up for herself. And, as it turned out, she ended up keeping him as a permanent resident!

Also, Sooty and Sweepie:

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Their story is that a momma cat abandoned two 11 day-old kittens on a woman’s back patio. She was okay with keeping them, but she had a job during the day and needed a babysitter! So I babysat them a couple of times, and then her father in Texas got very ill, and she opted to surrender the kittens to Challenger’s House. I kept them here for a few days, but we were pretty full up on fosters (at that point we had the Cookies and the Wonkas), so Heaven took these guys, too (it was about two months after Ike came through). She fostered them ’til they were big and strong, and then they were adopted out through the adoption center at Petsmart. I think they were adopted together, but I can’t guarantee it.

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Does Clove ever canoodle with Corbie or Kara? That would be a lot of brown-tabby bliss.

I’m sure that Clove would happily canoodle with Corbie or Kara, but Kara is very much NOT a canoodler (she has no use for other cats at all, except that she can sometimes be seen butting heads with Jake or Elwood) and Corbie doesn’t canoodle much either… he’ll allow Jake and Elwood to rub against him when they’re feeling friendly, but there’s no snuggling when it comes to the Corbs.

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So, to be nosy, does Fred love the kettehs as much as you, or does he just love you awfully much??

Whereas I love and adore teeny tiny kittens, Fred thinks that the little bitty ones are “boring” (his word, not mine!) and he prefers them when they hit their ridiculously long and lanky stage, which is where the Spice Girls and Ciara are right now.

But to answer the question, Fred loves cats as much as I do. I don’t know that he’d necessarily choose to have so many fosters at once, but I ALWAYS ask him before I take a second litter of fosters and I ALWAYS tell him “You can say ‘no’, and I won’t be mad!”, but nine times out of ten he doesn’t even hesitate before he says it’s okay with him. He said once that when we have a lot of fosters in the house, he feels like Scrooge McDuck, only instead of gold coins falling through his fingers, he’s got kittens.

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Is Alice still in love with her Daddy? Or have the sullen teen years crept in?

Oh, she still loves him with a deep and abiding passion. She shows her love for him by climbing into his lap every night when we’re watching tv, and getting her butt as close to his face as she possibly can. And then she lays there and purrs and gives him the eyes of love. She shows me affection, too (especially if I’m in the kitchen and she thinks I might give her food), but Fred’s first and foremost in her heart.

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I don’t know what it is, but Kara is one of the prettiest cats ever. I think it’s something about her face.

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Kara thinks you are probably the smartest reader with the best taste, ever.

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You may have already answered this, but I’m a tiny bit of a SKIMMAH. What do you use the dehydrated veggies for? I’m imagining you make sauce with the tomatoes, right? Can you use the squash for casserole or in other veggie dishes? Do you have to soak them first or anything?

I use the squash, zucchini and tomatoes (and usually some okra from the freezer) to make what we call “vegetable medley” – I saute it all in some olive oil. I don’t rehydrate any of it, because it rehydrates well enough in the pan (I sometimes add a little broth to the pan to help matters along). I’ve actually never used the tomatoes to make sauce, but maybe I’ll give that a try this winter! Oh, I also tested the dehydrated squash by making scalloped squash with it, and it turned out really good.

I like to toss a handful of shredded zucchini and dehydrated cherry tomatoes into spaghetti sauce and let it simmer for a while, too.

Also can you recommend a brand of dehydrator? I’d really like to dry my own fruit, but I’m not sure which dehydrator isn’t a colossal waste of money.

We have an Excalibur 2500 (which I told someone back in June that they don’t sell anymore, but I just checked Amazon and they do, so I’m not sure if they stopped selling them and started again, or what). This is, I think, the 4th year I’ve used it, and I haven’t had a single problem with it. Some summers I’ve used it more than others (I don’t think I dehydrated hardly anything last year), and it’s worked perfectly.

If that’s more than you want to spend, I’ve heard that the Nesco brand dehydrators are less expensive, and you can buy trays to add, if you need to.

Also the second, are you having any trouble keeping up the garden(s) with watering restrictions? Here in Texas we’re in extreme drought conditions and have some pretty severe restrictions. I’m having a hard time keeping my landscaping plants alive at this point.

We are actually not under any watering restrictions right now (and weren’t even before we got all that rain last week). When it’s dry, we water the vegetable garden a couple of times a week with drip hoses (about 25 – 30 minutes per row). We don’t have much landscaping to worry about other than the plants in pots on the front porch and the Azaleas and Hydrangeas in the front flower beds. The potted plants get watered twice a week (I have a one-gallon watering can, and filling it twice gives me enough water for the potted plants) and the front flower beds only get watered if I notice the Hydrangeas wilting – lately, that’s about once a week.

We do actually have a well. It’s not working – wasn’t working when we bought the house – but it’s on our miles-long list of stuff-to-do-someday, to get the well working so that we can, at least, water the garden with it.

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(Regarding Stinkerbelle) She looks to me to be a standard calitabby, black and orange with white, but she also has the pointed gene (to give the blue eyes). This will make the colors fade on the body, especially in hotter weather. On a standard siamese, the face tail and legs pale a little on the extremities to give the seal-brown, while the body fades to a light or dark cream color. On Stinkerbelle, the calico spots fade in a like manner – a bit on the head, and more on the body. So I guess the official term would be tortie-point with white.

I’m going to go add that description to her page right now, because I have a terrible memory when it comes to this stuff, and I know we’ve had discussions in the past about what Stinkerbelle is. This way, I’ll know where to look when I’m wondering in the future (if, y’know, I remember that I added it!)

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Do kittens react to the catnip or do they have to be a certain age to care for it?

According to this page, Very young and senior cats do not respond as much, or at all, to catnip. Also, 10-30% of the cat population does not respond to catnip at all, at any age. This is due to genetics — reactions to catnip are hereditary. Some cats are genetically “programmed” to respond to catnip, some aren’t.

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I have a question for you. Have you ever brought in a cat that was not accepted by the others. We rescued a cat last fall that was malnourished and had a bad infection from a collapsed eye. We introduced her as we always do, keeping her in a room and letting the others get to know her through the door. We have three others, two females and a very spoiled alpha male. None of them has accepted her. The one female tolerates her but avoids her when possible. The other female hisses and bats at her all the time [although she never gets close enough to make contact.] The male will lick her one minute and chase her the next. He was aggressive so many times that she doesn’t trust him and even when he appears to be playing she takes the defensive. She use to sleep with my husband until Willie let her know the bedroom is his domain. Now she sleeps under the chair unless one of us is around and she is glued to our lap. Will they ever accept her?

For some reason, the other cats in the house don’t care for Joe Bob. I don’t understand why that is – when he was our foster when we lived in Madison, he and Sugarbutt and Tommy were the best of friends. They played together, they snuggled up for naps, they loved each other. When he joined the family two(ish) years later as a permanent, none of the other cats liked him. I don’t know why that is, he’s the sweetest cat on earth, but they just don’t like him. For the most part they don’t actually physically fight (anymore), but they all have room to spread out in the house, and everyone has their favorite spot in which to hang out. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes Spanky will follow Joe Bob around and glare at him. He doesn’t start a fight with Joe, and he never gets very close to him, but he does follow him and just sits and glares at him. We call him Creepy Cousin Spanky when he acts like that.)

I didn’t have much in the way of advice for you, but Doodle Bean had some great advice (thanks, Doodle Bean!):

I have had two for 12 years, and they’ve never really gotten along. They don’t fight that much anymore, so that is something.

Things that have helped: making sure there are more than enough litterboxes. The rule of thumb is one for each cat plus one. I have four for my two cats. Three just wasn’t enough. I also feed them within sight of each other, so they associate each other with something good. I give them catnip in different rooms, however, because that drug tends to lead to fights. In good weather, I make sure I have at least two windows open, otherwise there are fights for windowsill space.

Also, I make sure that I pay extra attention to each one individually during the day. Sweetpea *loves* to be brushed, so that’s what I do. Fuzz loves to go for walks (on leash), so I take him for daily walks. That seems to help the jealousy. When they seem mellow, I will give them treats together, making sure to pet them equal amounts. Finally, I set up elevated beds for each one in the rooms I spend the most time in. Sweetpea likes soft beds, so she has elevated soft beds. Fuzz doesn’t like soft beds, so he has an elevated cardboard boxes on which to snooze. Since Sweetpea likes boxes but doesn’t like sleeping on cardboard, there is absolutely no conflict over beds.

They seem to have worked out a lot themselves. Sweetpea owns the bed, but allows Fuzz to jump up on it for morning pets. Fuzz owns the back door and basement door areas and Sweetpea doesn’t care. Sweetpea owns the living room, but lets Fuzz walk through it. Fuzz owns the kitchen and Sweetpea is scared of the kitchen (long story). They share the food and water area and the bathroom when I’m in it.

I wish they were buddies, but I’ve settled for lack of fighting and tension. Hope this helps with your crew.

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Okay, now it’s time to properly meet the Peppers! (If you missed it, I posted an entry on Saturday that you might want to go check out.)

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Sally Peppers.

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Everett Peppers.

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The slightly cross-eyed Lucy Peppers.

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Molly Peppers.

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Last, but certainly not least, Harlan Peppers.

The story behind the names is a simple one. Back in June, I was reading Swistle’s baby names blog, and read this post about a woman who wanted to name her baby Everett Peppers (Peppers being their surname), but her mother disliked the name intensely. At the time I read it, I thought “Everett Peppers would be an EXCELLENT kitten name!”, made a mental note, and moved on.

When I got this litter, I looked at them and decided almost immediately that they were going to be the Peppers Gang. I had Everett, I came up with Harlan pretty quickly, I knew I wanted to use Molly, and then I totally stole Lucy and Sally from Connie, because I really just like the names. All together, I think their names sound like they very well might be a gang of ruffians from the Old West, robbing stagecoaches and holding up banks.

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That’s Lucy on the left; I’m not sure which of the other two is Everett and which is Sally.

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Harlan fell asleep in the middle of making Lucy, Everett, and Sally move over.

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I love how Molly’s ears are so light compared to her dark head.

The first few days they were here, they slept almost exclusively on the bed. And then they discovered the cat tree, and now most of the time when I go in there, they’re all crammed together on the top platform.

Like I mentioned, they were hissy-spitty the first few days we had them, but I don’t remember the last time they hissed (maybe Thursday), and when I walk over to the cat tree, they peep at me, and purr like crazy. They aren’t to the point where they’ll come to us and ask for affection and they still cringe a little if we reach for them, but there’s time. They’ll come around soon enough, I’m sure.

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Cilantro in the sun. (She’s actually sitting on top of the Best! Box! Ever!!!!)

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Sweet Miss Clove.

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Clove on the cat tree in the front room.

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Cilantro is the lickiest little thing. You get near her, she’s gonna lick you. Sometimes I have to bury my feet in the couch so she’ll stop licking them.

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Ciara’s face just cracks me UP.

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Every time I think “I should take that box out to the garage. No one’s using it.”, Newt suddenly starts using it again. He spends his nights outside, then comes inside during the day, finds some out of the way place to hole up, and then in the evening he’s gone again.


2010: No entry.
2009: No entry.
2008: New kitten movie!
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: “Who’s the one who couldn’t wait ’til 6:30 and had to run up and let them out an hour earlier?” I pointed out.



8-8-11 — 14 Comments

  1. Aww Lovely new kittens! 🙂

    Is it just me or is Harlan Corbies beautiful handsome little Mini-Me???

  2. LOL.. I saw Sally Peppers and I said “hey!” and I saw Lucy Peppers, and I said “wait a minute” and then I saw that you totally “stole” those names, and I was flattered 🙂 they are really precious!

  3. Awwww — The Peppers are just the cutest little things! If I lived closer, little Miss Molly Peppers would be the one I would want! They are too cute!

  4. I LOVE the name Molly for a cat! And I’ve just noticed Ciara’s cute nose spot! She looks so much like my boy!! His mum was black and white with a spot in just the same place; he didn’t have it until about 12 weeks; it started off small and got proportionally bigger. He looks just like his mum now except he’s tabby and white; she was captured by a charity 36 hours after her kittens were scooped up and went right back to suckling them; I have a picture of her feeding them at 3 weeks old and the angry expression on her face is just like his when THE SERVICE ROUND HERE IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!
    Oh, and by the way, who was the cat you showed us once, or was it twice….a tabby…C-something? Can’t quite remember…quite good looking?

  5. When i saw peppers, my first thought was “sgt pepper’s lonely hearts club band”

  6. My Very Best Friend’s name is Harlan, and just as I was reading about Mr Harlan Peppers, who gave me a call? Why, it was Harlan! I just thought that was a little funny. What a sweet little gang.

  7. Thanks for the great Q&A session and photos. love the new crew just as much as their elders! Your vivid account of Fred’s experience males me admire him more than ever. How fantastic is that guy?!!!

  8. Hahaha! I´m laughing too much about the cat in two legs. I love the name of babies!!!!
    Sorry about the storm… when Mother Nature wants, she knows to intimidate us, right?

  9. Harlan fell asleep getting his siblings to move over – awww!!! It’s such hard work being a baby! Got nap when you can. And Ciara cracks me up, soo disaproving and unimpressed. hm! little miss uppity! and ohmyword – how kissable is wittle Ike? he’ll be a pretty boy now. thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Robyn, much appreciated. And we are very glad you are all safe and well.

  10. The Peppers Gang! How beautiful and already Lucy Peppers has stolen my heart!Awwww They’re lovely!

    Hoorah for The Spice Girls and Ciara! Hello Newt and glad you are all safe after such storms!

    Take care

  11. When I first saw Peppers, I totally thought of a favorite childhood book – The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Their names were different though – Ben, Polly, David, Joel, and Phronsie. (A very old book – first published in 1881!) 🙂 They’re sure cuties!!