Warm, Cold, Cats

Awe Baby (from Split Rock Farm) spent time with Mr. T before the big guy left last September.  A preliminary blood test indicated that she was pregnant, but doubts remained.
Barb and Laura (Baby's goat mom) drew another blood sample on Jan 9 for further testing, but the very next day Baby went into heat.
Split Rock's Topper was more than willing to rectify the problem of an unpregnant goat
but Baby climbed aboard the Yaris Goatmobile for a trip to Poplar Hills Dairy Goat Farm in Scandia
where she was greeted by an enthusiastic throng of suitors.
The lucky swain was Poplar-Hill Creation Maximum, whose father was also Mr. T's dad and whose mother was sister to Mr. T's mom.
We're hoping for a gorgeous buck from Baby and Creation Maximum to replace Mr. T.
Baby's barn-mates welcome her back to Kettle River.
Disappointingly, Cheeky also went into heat -- too late to try again for a pregnancy this breeding season -- 
and we suspect that beautiful Arabica is sterile
so we're counting on the other girls to come through this spring with oodles of cute babies: Momo
Juju (who should be paroled from the slammer in time for freshening)
and Kona (who seems to be growing a bit wider).
Meanwhile, the non-caprine (feline) herd at MeadowWild Farm has grown some.
Feral Mama kitty continues to prowl for rodents and hide out underneath the truck.
For several months now she's had the unwanted company of a feral tom (we HOPE it's a male -- and will not deposit kittens in the garage)
who has been hanging around, eating Mama's crunchies, and chasing Mama away when the two  happen upon each other.
He has some kind of eye problem and seems almost blind, but won't let us near enough to investigate.
He hunts mice more by hearing than sight; we've never seen him catch anything.
He sometimes hangs out beneath the bird feeders
without being much of a threat to the Chickadees
or even ground-feeders such as the Grosbeaks

We suspect that where Mama uses the Meow Mix in the garage as an occasional supplement to her carnivorous diet
the intruder tom probably doesn't get anything else to eat.

While those two tough out the brunt of a Minnesota winter, ancient, pampered indoor cat Bubba
snoozes all day

and then yowls much of the night.
He stands at the bottom of the stairs and yells to be sure that no one is getting much sleep on the second level.
Bubba is living on borrowed time.  He's now approaching 19 years old, which is the equivalent of 93 human years, and has been diabetic for many years.  
If he continues to interfere with the Farmers' sleep, his life expectancy could diminish even further.
The last of the feline herd -- Vigilant Cat -- continues to keep watch for seasonal developments.
January is appropriately named for Janus, the two-headed Roman god of beginnings and transitions, who looks both forward and backward.
Our January began with backward-looking summerish weather: rain and 7 days above the freezing mark (with a high of 43 on Jan 10).  Mama kitty took advantage of the thaw to drink from puddles (instead of having to eat snow for her water).
But then we finally got seasonal toward the end of the month, as arctic air swept down and treated us to a week of sub-zero weather.  The high on Jan 21 was -6, with a low the next morning of -24.  By the time the Farmers went out to the goat barn, it was a balmy -18.  Because the wind-chill approached -50, local schools were closed.
Heated buckets kept the goats' water thawed, but frost built up around the rims
and around the girls' snouts.
As soon as the sun rose, they headed outside for what little solar heating was available.
On the really cold days, Barb let them out of their pen to climb all over Mount Hay Bales
and see what other kind of mischief they could get into.
Cheeky checks in for some attention.
We don't know how they manage it, but the two feral cats survive even the coldest spells.
The tom likes to hang out near the laundry-room window, where he is at least out of the wind.

The strange weather has wreaked havoc with snow levels this winter.
In a normal season, we would have gotten 51" inches by now, but we've only received 33"
and the unusual rains and thaws have left a mere 8" of snow depth.
We're hoping to get replenished soon -- if only to protect the septic system from any more Alberta Clippers.
Barb has taken advantage of cold winter days to work on her new website, abandoning the old one that proved so frustrating to keep updated.  Check it out at http://meadowwildfarm.com/.