Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Life of Peep

I haven't seen the movie The Life of Pi yet - but I read the book a while ago. I really liked it - I thought it was a adventure story about a boy and a tiger in a boat. Apparently it wasn't just about a tiger. Or a boy. Or a boat. I can never tell when the story is about the story or if it means something else. Vivid imagery and symbolism are entirely lost on me. I'm just not that deep.

Our Peep was at one time slightly wild eyed and unstable.

A while ago I promised that I'd tell you the story of our sweet Peep. It's kind of like the Life of Pi. But this is a story about a kitten. And a girl. And a plane. It's The Life of Peep.

When I first got to The Good Land we lived at the Old Farm. I was still trying to sort out the entanglements of my old life so there were a lot of things happening. One of those things was a visitor who arrived with The World's Worst Poodles. I hated them. They were out of control and barked at everything. This was long before we had our Dog Horde but even then I knew dogs should not behave like those stupid poodles. One day I saw one of those fluffy headed nincompoops chasing something across the garden and I didn't give it another thought.

She loved being held by TBM. And still does.

The next day I had to give it a lot of thought. That stupid poodle was chasing our Mrs. FluffyPants, the feral cat we'd been feeding in hopes she would become our barncat.  Turns out she had just birthed her kittens in the chicken house. That dog chased her off her nest. We waited for her to come back for the kittens. She didn't. Almost two days later, at 11:30 in the PM we stood in the kitchen trying to decide what to do.

To be sure we believe in The Way of Things and we know that life is harsh...but we also believe in giving everyone a fighting chance.  We stood looking at each other, our toes hanging over the edge of a precipice.

Between the two of us we already had four cats. The Big Man with his two boys and me with my old lady cats. We figured that was more than enough. But the last time we checked the kittens weren't doing well. The Big Man went outside with instructions to either bury the kittens if they had died....Or to bring them inside.

A few minutes later TBM came back inside holding one tiny little body - she was the only kitten left. The others were gone. She was crying pitifully and my husband told me the kitten was trying to keep warm by wrapping herself up in a plastic bag.  She was cold to the touch and barely moving.  We sprang to action and gently warmed her up and got some food in her belly. I stayed awake the whole night with her trying to keep her warm. One of my old lady cats was snuggling with her on my lap. The kitten lived thru the night.

We couldn't believe how little she was... her kitten blue eyes slayed me.

The next day I happened to be going to vet anyway so I took her along hoping that they knew a nursing mamma cat? No. Or that they could care for her? Nope. Barn cats are a dime a dozen out here. The timing couldn't be worse. The next day I was getting on a plane to finish up the last details of my old life. Could I take her on the plane? I asked the vet.  "Well. It's better than her dying in the shed." And then he walked away. I looked down at the tiny little bit of fluff in my hands. I didn't have any idea what I was doing.

So between packing and making other arrangements I gave myself a crash course in how to bottle raise kittens. And I bought her a ticket to come with me - it was $80 each way, which was expensive. I didn't know if she would make it so I only bought her a one way ticket.  She was so tiny and frail...and I was feeding her every 2 or 3 hours just hoping to keep her alive.

I still didn't have any idea what I was doing as I stood in line at security. I had packed the baby kitten - all of 5 days old - in a carrier with some things to keep her warm and some kitten formula.

"Take the animal out of the carrier and place it on the belt." Demanded the security guy. You know the type - cheap watch, a bad haircut, a worse attitude, and a smirk because he was finally in charge of something. He was staring me down when I reached in and pulled the kitten out of the carrier - she wasn't even as big as my palm and her eyes weren't even open. A gasp went up from the crowd behind me and then the security guy, that big tough man.....utterly melted. He turned to jelly before my eyes... "Oh!" He said, "Let me see her!"

I was swarmed. There was oohing and aaaahing and everyone wanted to see that baby kitten. What happened? How old was she? Wasn't she too young to be away from her mother?

I was whisked thru the rest of the security check and then walked off like a rock star surrounded by onlookers and well wishers and everyone who wanted to hear the story. When I boarded the plane the flight attendants swooned, my seat mates fawned over her...and I just tried to keep the kitten warm. That little bit of fluff never meowed..she just peeped a little. So I called her Peep.

It is a fact she still has TBM wrapped around her little pink toe.

With the help of a neighborhood vet not only did Peep make it - she thrived. The kitten had some belly problems but nothing an experienced vet tech couldn't fix they told me. So I dropped her off at the vet's office for the day while I had a yard sale to get rid of everything in my city house that I couldn't fit in the moving truck.  After my neighbors scavenged everything that wasn't sold out of the "Free" pile I went back to pick up Peep.

The receptionist called back for the vet tech to bring Peep out. And that is when my life changed.

"Is this your kitten, honey?" She was an enormous older woman with a huge bosom. "Don't you worry now, this little one is going to be just fine."

And then she plucked Peep out of her bra. That's right. This is who taught me that your bosom is the best place for warming up little creatures.

"You keep her close to your heart, now. She'll feel your heartbeat and calm right down." She told me. I was mesmerized. Peep squawked and wanted to be back in that huge bosom.  I walked out to my rental car, got in, and put Peep in my comparatively inadequate bosom. She instantly quieted down...and then promptly peed all down my front. That was the last clean shirt I ever owned.

The walking thing took a while but she eventually got it.

Eventually I closed down my old life and all that was left to do was buy Peep her return ticket and get back to The Good Land. I gathered up all the loose change from my yard sale and dumped it into one of those change counting machines. I stood there listening to the sound of everything from my old life that had been turned into dimes and nickles at the sale. I waited for the final tally of my old life.  It was $80 and change. Just enough for Peep's return ticket.  Praise God for little miracles.

So Peep and I returned to The Good Land. She came back strong and healthy - and with her eyes open. She learned to toddle around, to eat real food, and eventually her little body was able to keep itself warm. She ended up with a typical Calico spitfire personality... and a unique perspective on life that only comes from being a bottle raised baby.

Then she got big and got all silly.

We never did see Mrs. FluffyPants again - but the other kittens came back and lived in the chicken house. I sometimes wonder what our barncats, Shine and Bobbi, would think of their "lost" sister, Peep who went on to live in the house.

I wonder how much different things would be if we hadn't brought her in on that cold night. She's our Peep, we say, and she peeps her peep.

The bigger she got the sillier she got. We call her Pistol Peep, our Fuzzy Buzz Saw.

Peep went on to have other adventures. She got a new sister because the vet thought Peep would "be weird" if she didn't have another kitten to play with. So we got Pepper and you know how that turned out. There was the story of how Peep got lost and how TBM found her from 150 miles away. And then there was the story of Peep and the Wall of Vomit - but that's another story for another time.

Happy Thursday everyone! Any body else have an adventure story involving a kitten or a tiger?


Heavens Door Acres said...

Awww, what a lucky little kitten! Peep is such a pretty little thing. YAY for you, taking her in... :)

Rachel said...

What a sweet story and a beautiful cat!

Old Mama said...

I love your story. Two years ago I had to hand raise 7 kittens. Mama apparently did not have enough milk for all of them or something. She was an excellent mother to a previous batch of 3. I spent some time trying to get her to let the 2 littlest ones nurse while I took care of the others, but she was not having any of that either, so I finally got disgusted and banished her to the porch. I was so mad at her. I am a medical transcriptionist and work from home, so I would sit here in my office working away with 7 kittens in my lap all nestled in the turned up bottom of a large sweatshirt I would wear. I would buy canned cat food by the cases when they got a little bigger because that seemed to be what worked best mixed with some milk replacer. With the 2 littlest, I had to dip my fingers into that mixture and they would then lick it off. As they grew, there wasn't enough room for all of them in the sweatshirt so they had to take turns with the 2 littlest getting the most lap time. Everyone would climb up my pant legs in order to get to my lap. The day Zorro bit through my headphone cord while in my lap was the day they were banished from the office. I then had a house full of unsupervised maniacs wreaking havoc while I stayed in my office and worked. What a time that was. I sure hope I do not have to repeat that little adventure. All 7 survived and thrived and when Spring finally came they were all banished to the porch and that is the day their Mama packed her bags and went a half mile down the road to live at the neighbors house. I swear this is all true. I could go on and on about all the crazy things that happened during this time, but I will stop here.

Vickie said...

Aw, what a sweet story. So glad Peep made it!

Amanda said...

Such a cute story! I loved the part about the airport guy's transformation.

Unknown said...

Ah what a great success story!

Robin said...

What a great story and a lucky cat! I bottle fed Miss Banana. She was from one of my barn cats. At the time, I had two litters that I was bottle feeding! I think there were 8 or 10. It was a full time job for a couple of weeks! Then they went off to their homes!

David said...

I had to read the part about "the last clean shirt...." to the Accountant. Great morning read.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks HDA - she really is beautiful. but wow what an attitude!

Thanks Rachel! We love her coloring.

O.Mama that is a great story! Yay for you! and yeah.. house full of maniacs.. we got that here. in spades. :-D

hi Vickie! We did not know if she would make it thru that first nite.

Thanks AManda - that was the funnest time at any airport. She was a huge hit!

Thanks Nancy! Our Peep is really something.

Miss Banana was a bottle baby!?!! Well that explains a lot! Two litters? This one little Peep just about did me in....

Dave, that was my last clean shirt. Ever. I used to buy all my clothes at Nordy's... now its off the sale rack at Kohls because it will only be 'new' for about 5 minutes around here.

Nic said...

What a great story. She looks like such a sweet wee girl (though with cats I know appearance isn't everything).
Am so glad you were able to save her

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Nic, we just adore Peep. But she is a handful. I'm told bottle raised Calicos are the worst....

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