The other day we had glorious weather. It was the kind of weather that makes you open up all the windows in your house and joyfully clean it from top to bottom.
And that is exactly what I was doing when I heard a voice from outside my bedroom window. It was my youngest daughter, Bella, and she was standing outside our back door speaking into the wind.
“Kitties! Kitties! Kiiitttiies! Kitties! Kitties! Kiiitttiies!”
Not 10 seconds later her two outside cats came running up the driveway from the depths of the barn. They were meowing as they ran to let their master, Bella, know they were coming. I have never seen anything like it. But truly, I have never met any cats like Bella’s cats.
Bella has always had a way with animals and a definite soft spot for kitties. And animals love her, too. She has that quiet, peaceful disposition that animals settle around (quite the opposite of me, honestly).
Around the farm we have never had a shortage of animals for her to love on. Inside we have a dog, two cats, and two rats. Outside we have my oldest’s psycho rabbits, two dogs, and two cats. My friends know that if they find a stray or if they have unwanted kittens, I will take them. Barn cats are a must on the farm. And since we got our two outside dogs, barn cats have been hard to keep around. Bella has made it her personal mission to keep each sweet, little kitty that comes to our farm alive. She will spend hours making them cozy spots in the chicken house. She will try to protect them from the dogs by locking them up when the dogs are out. Unfortunately, every single one of Bella’s sweet, tame little projects want to come out and play. And the dogs want to play, too. It never works out.
About eight months ago I had a friend drop off the cutest set of siblings — three of the most adorable kittens you ever did see. All the kids were so in love with the little triplets. Bella worked HARD to keep them alive. She succeeded in keeping two of the siblings and today they are officially cats. But in the process of keeping them alive she spent an excessive amount of time with them which honed some very un-catlike behaviors.
I have seen them snuggling on the trampoline while she was doing gymnastics. Not normal.
The cats follow the kids on their adventures wherever they go like dogs. When they get sick of walking they stop and cry until somebody carries them.
One time I was taking a walk around the fields of our property. I was about halfway down the path of the first field when I heard meowing. Bella’s cats, of course. They were running down the path after me and crying for me to wait. So I did. They followed me on my entire walk. Weirdos.
Bella will daily go out and put them in the garage to protect them from our dogs, who will always want “to play.”
But these outside cats aren’t the only animals Bella has left her mark on. Our older inside cat, Patrick, who is about 12 years old, recently underwent Bella bootcamp. She started eating dinner with him each night giving him little bites of everything. Now he’s pretty much a monster cat and will try to take food (even bread!) off people’s plates. We sometimes have to lock him up in a room to keep him out of dinner! I have no hope that these bad habits can be undone. You know: old cat, new tricks and all that.
Even though we found out recently that Bella is allergic to all things furry — especially cats — it has not tampered her devotion.
A stray cattle dog has adopted a herd of our cattle. The skinny and obviously people-shy dog is Bella’s latest project. We named him Samson and Bella drives out there each day and leaves him some dog food. There’s progress in his trust. He now eats while she is still in the field. She’s hoping to pet him soon. Time will tell. And time is what Bella spends most of when it comes to her animal projects.
Time and devotion.
Categories: Animals on the farm
My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.