Sunday, February 20, 2011

Disaster Strikes Spring Rock

Disaster struck last week while we were out shopping.  Graeme and I entered the local farmers' co-op without a care in the world.  I browsed the clothes on special while Graeme headed off to buy dog and cat food and then the bomb dropped.  the co-op was out of our cats' brand of cat food, except for the fish flavour.  Now you might wonder why this caused such consternation in the Spring Rock household.  The fact is the ferrets can't stand the fish flavour.  They would rather go hungry than let fish flavoured kibble pass their little toothy mouths.  The cats are fine with fish of course, but Tristan, Ambrosia and Nefertiti have never been privileged to taste it due to the ferrets' prejudice re fish flavours.  Rabbit, lamb or whatever else Whiskas produces are all fine with the ferrets so those are the only flavours that are allowed to enter our home.  Tristan, Ambrosia and Neferiti have never learned what they are missing and keeping them in ignorance is fine by me.  If they were to discover that delicious flavour out there they just might strike for better kibble flavours every day.

Graeme who knows what a waste of money it would be to buy the fish flavour only to have it well and truly rejected by the ferrets and have to feed them solely on expensive tinned food until a more acceptable flavour could be purchased came back from his cat kibble hunt to report the bad news to me.  There was another brand available that we'd tried before, but this brand had rather drastic effects on the cats' digestive system.  The smells the cats emitted would have made a dog proud!  Also neither the cats nor the ferrets were keen on this other brand, picking at their food and muttering about how disgraceful it was that inferior quality food was being served.  We stood in the co-op weighing up the pros and cons of the two unacceptable options to try and decide which was the least unacceptable.  In the end I decided that the other brand in lamb flavour was the better of two bad options.  We'd buy it now and buy a Whiskas one as soon as we could and mix the other brand in, a bit at a time, until it was all gone.  In the meantime the cats and ferret would have to endure the other brand straight.

We were off to a White Suffolk conference in South Australia in a few days so I mixed the little bit of Whiskas that was left with a small portion of the other brand in an effort to convince our cat kibble munchers to eat it. At first the cats carefully chose their preferred brand by picking up the other brand in their teeth and dropping it on the floor, only munching when their tongue detected the Whiskas kibble.  The ferrets just sent all the kibble flying, thus making the kelpies waiting below their wire floored cage very happy little dogs.  The dogs don't differentiate between brands.  Cat kibble is cat kibble and all three canines love it.

I tried to explain that this was all there was until our next shop after we returned from South Australia.  I was ignored.  They wasted so much kibble in the few days before we left that by the time I filled up their automatic feeders it was pure other brand.  The cats just turned up their noses and tails and stalked out of the room.  The ferrets continued to mine for better tasting kibble without success.  The automatic feeder meant that all the kibble landed on the ground on in the waiting kelpies' mouths.  The kelpies had taken up almost permanent residence under the ferret cage and were having the time of their life.  Life just didn't get better than this for two old dogs.  I removed the automatic feeder from the ferret cage and reinstalled their ordinary ice cream container with little squares cut out of the side for ferret heads to poke in to eat.  At least it was more difficult to scoop out large quantities of cat kibble from there.

We headed off for South Australia after setting up all the pets to be self sufficient for the three days and three nights we were going to be gone.  Of course I worried about the cat kibble situation.  I always worry about something, and so far cat and ferret attitude to the new kibble hadn't boded well.

Sure enough when we arrived home their displeasure was clearly evident, although I think the ferrets were regretting their form of protest.  The cats had dug all the kibble out of the automatic feeder and spread it around the kitchen floor.  Here they could at least nibble on some when they were hungry, albeit with a sour look of distaste planted firmly on their feline features.  The ferrets on the other hand had tried the same protest manoeuvres with rather drastic results.  They hadn't taken wire floor of their cage into account and ended up with nothing to eat.  I only hope it took them a day or two to empty their feeder and they didn't starve for the three days.  I am rather certain this was the case because when I refilled their dish with more of the other brand kibble they once again turned up their little pointy noses and stalked away.  I did notice that they didn't start scattering the kibble far and wide though.  The kelpies had placed themselves under the cage with expectant looks on their faces as soon as they saw me heading that way with the kibble in hand, so I was pretty sure the kelpies had eaten well during our absence. 

The cats' protesting digestive system now made being in the same room with them rather a trial.  They were totally unrepentent, glaring at us and clearly stating that if we forced inferior food on their delicate tummies then this was the price we paid.  Windows were kept open, cats avoided like the plague and tinned cat food pressed on them at every given opportunity.  This they basically ignored.  Our cats have been off tinned food for a while now.  I've no idea why, maybe they consider it a winter food like we do casseroles.  Who knows?

We arrived home Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday Graeme headed to town for some farm shopping.  At the top of his list was Whiskas kibble, farm equipment came a very poor second.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

It's Back!

The hairy panic has moved in again.  With all the rain we've had this summer it's a bumper crop.  I have great visions of convincing florists that the wispy little seed heads are the next big thing in floral arrangements.  Once they catch on to this cutting edge idea they'll be beating a path to my door (through the shoulder high piles of hairy panic) and I'll make a fortune!!  We've been told on the local news, by a very disapproving agronomist, yes the weed infestation has made the local news, that it's really called witch grass and the habit Riverina folk have of calling it hairy panic is incorrect.  We continue to call it hairy panic (panic for short) around here and will always do so.  I think the name hairy panic suits it much better and doesn't go offending innocent witches.  The house is nearly buried in it.  We have to wade through it when we go outside and any attempts to move it away from the house and garden are lost causes.  The first light wind that comes up will bring it all back along with a lot more of its friends.  Tristan, the red headed cat, hates it.  

Hairy panic is a lot taller than Tristan so, when he wishes to come inside for breakfast or morning tea or whatever,  he stands outside the lounge room window, buried deep in the panic and meows pathetically to let us know he's ready to pay us a visit.  Graeme doesn't appear to be able to hear these pathetic pleas.  Maybe Tristan's meow is pitched at too high a frequency for Graeme's ears, but I doubt it.  Anyway, it always ends with me having to go out there, wade through the panic and pick Tristan up, brush off the excess panic from his fur, and bring him inside.  This wouldn't be so bad, but as I believe I've mentioned before, Tristan hates being on the wrong side of a door, and whatever side of the door he is on is the wrong side.  Once in, he catches up on all the inside cats' news -  Ambrosia and Nefertiti always greet him like a long lost love, even if he's been gone for only a few minutes.  He then has a snack and a drink of water and stays inside for all of ten minutes before he wants to go out again.  

His strategy for letting me know his visit has come to an end is to jump on me if I'm sitting down, jump down again, walk a little way away from me while looking over his shoulder at me in a significant way, then returning to jump on me again.  Tristan is no lightweight cat.  When you've been jumped on by Tristan you are left in no doubt that you've been jumped on.  His landings are often accompanied by an "Ooof!" from me as his paws hit my stomach (I tend to lay back on the lounge with my feet up you see).  If I'm standing up he winds his way around my legs, doing his best to trip me up so he can jump on me I'm sure.  Then heads off door-wards while throwing me that significant look once again and returns to wind himself around me again.

I eventually get the hint and open the back door for him, after all I can't be sure after the snack and drink that nature isn't calling.  Tristan then walks out the door, tail held high, and stops - horrified to see that the hairy panic is still there.  I think he expects me to race out there and clear it all off while he's eating breakfast.  I can't think of any other reason he's surprised to see the panic is still in residence all over the back porch and path.  Tristan then turns his head and gives me a look mingled with supreme disappointment and hope.  The hope is that I'll feel so guilty that the panic is still there, threatening an innocent ca,t that I'll pick him up and carry him to a panic free location on the farm (wherever that may be).  I disappoint him every time and refuse to carry him back through, so he sits on the back porch surveying the expanse of panic and works up his courage until he can finally bring himself to work his way through it.  This he does as slowly as possible expecting the panic to attack at any moment I'm sure, or maybe hoping that I'm watching and I'll take pity on a poor beleaguered cat and lift him up and out of the weedy torture.

Then of course, a few minutes later the pathetic meowing starts again because Tristan is once again on the wrong side of a door.  I have hardened my heart to this second plea to be allowed in.  I've spent too much of my time acting as doorman to Tristan and have a lot better things to do with my day.  Besides, how many doormen do you know who actually carry people through the doors?   I don't go get him the second time - well, not until I get fed up with the meowing, not that that takes very long I must admit.  Once he's inside this time I refuse to let him out when he says he's visited for long enough once more.  So Tristan is kept prisoner for a while.  His subtle hints that he'd like to go outside now that I've had time to clear away the panic are ignored while I try my best to go about my day without getting tripped up by a red headed battering ram.  

Tristan does manage to execute an escape though.  He simply waits until Graeme or I go outside, then he slips through the door, sits once again in disbelief that the panic is yet again present and accounted for while ignoring with supreme indifference all my invitations and threats to come back inside.  If I try to grab him, he dashes through the panic like it's not there.  

Cats!  Who'd have them?