☆ November 1, 2016
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been down at the corrals this year. We turned the front yard into an ICU for Sunshine when he was declining in January – the corrals are down a hill and over another hill from the house and we wanted to keep Sunshine close to us. The yard became Sid‘s playpen when he was born this spring, and it naturally became the place where I helped him bond with Daisy, and, at that point, I just started milking Daisy in the yard, too.
So, I’ve only been down at the corrals a handful of times, when we’ve needed to sort cows or tag calves. Just over a week ago, we took Sid, Roxy, Ixchel, and a couple of other calves to the corrals to wean them. Ixchel, Fiona’s calf, is gigantic. She is nursing solely for comfort at this point. And Daisy was producing SO much milk – she is such a devoted mother – that she has become too thin. The more food I gave her, the more milk she would make – she never gained any weight herself. She became so thin, I became worried for her well being in the inevitable cold and decided we must wean for her sake.
Whenever we wean, we put the calves in the inner corral and leave the outer corral open to the pasture. This way, the mother cows can go in and out of the outer corral and spend as much time as they like right next to their calves. They can sleep and eat side by side, see and smell and talk to each other, and the entire process is very calm for everyone. And very quiet. When calves are weaned and immediately taken away from their mothers (which is the norm), the calves and mother cows cry and call out for each other for DAYS.
The morning after we weaned, I walked down to the corrals with Chloe to check on everyone. I happened to arrive just as Mike was driving up with some hay for the calves. I was standing in the inner corral petting Sid when I heard a very loud meow. An urgent meow. Crouched in the dirt, not three feet from where I stood with Sid and Chloe, was a soggy little orange kitten. I called to Mike, but when he came over, the kitten scampered away and huddled under the railings of the round corral. I threw Chloe’s leash to Mike and scrambled over the railings, dropped into the round corral, and crept towards the kitten. It looked awful – I couldn’t tell if it was sick or crazy or just weak. I took off my t-shirt, and while the kitten was focused on my shirt in my left hand, I reached my right hand behind him and plucked him from his hiding spot by the nape and wrapped him up in my tee. And then. And then! When I held the little bundle against me, he started purring!
We zipped over to the vet, and I’ve spent the last week IN LOVE. He is 11 weeks old. He is neither sick nor crazy, he just needed food and care. We don’t know his origin story – my vet believes he was feral, Mike wonders if he was abandoned. I think the stork of souls dropped him in my path. He’s very likely Eli’s kin. To honor this, I chose a name that begins with the “long i” sound that Eli ends with: Ivan.
Ivan and Chloe are pals – Chloe lets him climb all over her and they are very sweet together. Charlie is really calm and submissive with Ivan but Ivan wants nothing to do with Charlie. Mushy is pissed. She has never not been the baby of the house and she is furious. She’ll get over it. Mushy always seemed so little, but she is positively gigantic compared to this kitten! He is tiny. But his paws are not, and he is already noticeably larger than he was a week ago. He purrs whenever I touch him. I have spent so many hours supine because he fell asleep on me…. and I consider it time very well spent. Here are pictures! If the embeds don’t work for you, you can see them (and more) HERE.