Saturday, November 13, 2010

Free With Purchase

August a year ago I was preparing to bring my dad home from the nursing home after his stroke. Because he was relearning to walk and use his left arm, he needed to be in a home that was handicap accessible and modified to his needs. And there needed to be room for a live-in caregiver. That meant modifying his mobile home. Or--

One of my neighbors had their property up for sale -- a large, older home with a small guest house and a metal barn on 10 acres -- that I considered purchasing. For various reasons, the house wasn't going to work for my dad's needs, so I went ahead and had the needed modifications made to the mobile home he knew and loved.

Meanwhile, I decided to try for a land grab. I negotiated with the owner and they wound up selling the house and structures with 2 acres to the town's deputy sheriff and the other 8 acres that abutted my property to me. Imagine a capital T with the crossbar being my original 19 acres and the leg being the 8-acre tract. The acreage even has a narrow egress to a paved road, so my little farm, though not a corner lot, now has access from two roadways.

Problem was, the deputy wasn't going to be moving in immediately and the neighbor couldn't take their dog or their two adult cats with them when they moved out. The real estate agent agreed to take the dog and I agreed to the cats, who were living outdoors with access to the garage. They were friendly enough, not feral, and I figured they could hang out in my barn where they would be dry and safe.

First, though, I needed to get them habituated to their new place. So I moved Orion, a black-and-white neutered male about 3 years old, and Callie, a spayed calico female about 4 years old, into a bathroom to start the acclimation process. They immediately got the hang of the litterbox, so I gave them the run of the house the next day.

The mound these guys are on actually covers an
underground storm shelter. You can see a bit of
the access door to the right and one of the air
vents at the top. The shelter came with the house.
I'm certain to never use it because, while the
beasties are perfectly happy to be ON it, I'm
not sure how I would ever get everybody IN it.

I'm sure you see where this is heading.

Acclimation was accomplished within 24 hours. They figured out the doggie door, the food situation, the comfy bed and lap privileges. Living in a house was sweet. They eventually found their way to the barn, visiting it on one of their brief outings. They were unimpressed.

Well over a year later, they are total prima donnas. They've chased Magic, the former feral kitten, out of the house; have taken over my workspace; and refuse to eat anything but tuna canned for human consumption mixed with their dry food. Because of the potential health issues associated with too much tuna, I do try to limit their intake -- one small can lasts them two full days, 12 meals total among all 3 cats.

Orion follows the dogs around, follows me while I'm doing my outside chores, and sleeps on my pillow at night. Callie is the geek, snoozing on my keyboard and purring in my lap while I'm working. She sleeps in the unused second sink in the downstairs bath. I don't know why. But I've put a bit of fleece in the sink to make things more comfy for her. While I would love a magazine-perfect home and I avidly watch design shows, my decorating style is based solely on my beasties' habits.

I'm also one of those frugal folk who chase bargains and clip coupons. I bought 8 acres of raw, unimproved land for $42,000 and the owner threw in 2 free cats. Yep, I've always been a sucker for a good deal.


fairyhedgehog said...

That was a very good deal indeed! The two free cats is the clincher. They do look sweet.

All those photos are lovely.

McKoala said...


Karen said...

Thanks for sharing your life on the farm with us. Your stories really make my day!

pacatrue said...

Ahh, visiting/acclimating cats who visit for the next 15 years. A lovely tradition.

Whirlochre said...

You seem to attract animals like Tom Jones attracts flying lingerie.

Jeb said...

Great deal: two cats for $42 grand.

Cats are amazingly quick to acclimate to greater comfort. The other way, not so much.