A little blip -i hope

Today we had our first real issue since Ridley came to live with us. Reese our pitbull mix laid into him. 

It happened so fast I can’t figure out the trigger. I had let them all in from playing in the yard and they came in extra hyper. They kept running back and forth from my family room into our kitchen sitting area. In fact I was going to put them back out after I shared some leftover apple with them. I never even got to feeding them the apple but I was standing up with food. They knew I had food. Could Ridley have knocked into Reese and Reese felt like he was being pushed out? 

I happened to see Reese today in the yard trying to play with Ridley. In Reese fashion he will bark and sometimes nip at the neck. I watched his tail.  It was in the calm position.  Ridley was ignoring him and chose to run after Pierce. They play chase all the time. Was there something going on in there? I didn’t think Reese seemed upset about the diss from Ridley.  I’ve been through  dog aggression before sometimes you can’t really know why altercations between dogs happen but you can let them know it’s not acceptable. 

It began quickly -there was some snapping and snarls that started -dogs sometimes do this and it’s often over as fast as it started- so I was just about to say quit(maybe I did ) when it escalated. Ridley is much bigger than Reese but Reese is young and strong. And what began as a bit of snarling ended up with Ridley trying to defend himself and Reese overpowering him.  Reese had Ridley by the top of his neck near his ear and poor Ridley had stopped trying to fight back and was whining with pain. Ridley who has weaker legs had collapsed on the floor under Reese’s weight.  Reese was clamped on. Not good. . My son sprayed them all with water that has just a bit of vinegar in it. I threw my ceramic fiesta dish at them and grabbed Reese’s collar (i know that was  dumb but it was a reflex). I know I was screaming because I have a sore throat now. Somehow in seconds that seemed like minutes we got them apart. I dragged Reese outside and shut the door but went back out a second later with my spray bottle and chased his butt all around the deck and part of the yard spray in him. I was so freaking mad. If he had gotten closer I may have knocked him in the head. But that’s not like me and I’m glad he stayed away BC I was so upset. My heart was pounding in my chest. I didn’t want to hurt him but I did let him know that we don’t except that behavior here. He stayed out back the rest of the afternoon in solitary until I kicked Pierce out for marking our bed again. (I can’t blame that on getting the new dog BC he began that well before Ridley arrived. ) it’s getting tiring washing the floor and bedding every other day. 

 It was only a few months ago we had the problem with Lemon going after Reese. And after one particular incident I layed into Lemon and was very loud and something clicked in her and she stopped terrorizing Reese. Maybe my fury resonated with him today. I know that if Reese wanted to do damage he could have. But I don’t want this to become an issue between them. But I have no idea if it will or won’t. It is that fear that is so hard. 

I know my stern reaction to aggression is a fallout from the time Kevin was attacked by the other sheepdog we adopted.   I just won’t tolerate that – dog v dog and I won’t tolerate that with Dog v human at all.  When it’s dog v dog I try to figure out the issue. If I can change something I will. Today’s altercation leaves me baffled and extra fearful BC I know what pitbull clamping jaws can do.  

You probably want to know if Ridley was hurt.  His feelings were for sure. Well I can’t say that for sure But he seemed more confused than anything. He did end up with a small bite puncture behind the ear. It didn’t bleed but I cleaned it up to be sure. It will probably be sore.  I feel bad for the old guy. 

I am hoping when they see eachother again they are over it. Much of the time dogs do get over it.  My son let Reese in for a minute by mistake about an hour after it happened and there was no issue but he wasn’t in long enough for me to feel comfortable with them together. I probably should have let him back in but I was still so upset. It was close to feeding time so I decided to keep him outside until then (he’s in his crate in the dog room now) and I’ll see how they do later. I’m hoping I’m way more worried about it than I need to be. I love my dogs but stuff like this really throws me off.  

Reese hasn’t really ever been aggressive before. He fought back once when Lemon went after him and he probably had enough. He cut her ear but it wasn’t anything too bad. More of a warning. So seeing him this way today was upsetting because he’s usually the one who wants to play with all the dogs. He is The let’s be friends guy. 

When it all went down today it was Lemon who stuck her nose in trying to break it up and it was she who followed Reese outside when I put him out. They have become friends again. So dog dynamics can change. Let’s hope the relationship with Reese and Ridley is ok. Let’s hope it’s just me that’s worried about it. 

Part of me hopes it was a food thing BC that’s something that doesn’t seem to cause long lasting problems. The intensity of Reese’s aggression is what is throwing me. Let’s hope it’s was only a blip on the radar and it won’t become something more and that I am only worrying BC of past issues. I will update this post to as things develop (or don’t develop )

It’s never a dull moment in the life at the Sweeney farm. Today was a moment I could have done without. Sigh…

Thanks for reading ..


Ridley a while after the fight.


Reese. (rudy in the foreground)


Is heaven like this?

 I got up to sore feet 

Walked out the pain

Put on my boots opened the door 

Felt the crisp air 

Breathed it in deep into my lungs 

Turned the corner to the barn 

Was struck by the beauty in the mist

The sun on my cheeks through the haze 

Horses knickering , ducks quacking ,roosters crowing. 

The stillness -the calm

The beauty in the mist. I want to cry for how beautiful it is. 

Is heaven like this I thought 

Then I recall words from a conversation years ago as i sat on a beach asking the same thing. 

“I think it’s like this only better”. 


winter is here -why am I so surprised? 

I woke up to winter this morning. What? That was a surprise to me. For some reason I was lulled by the warm October and November temps we’ve been having and I began to think winter was still a ways off. My porch mum just died off two days ago(maybe that should have been a sign) My knockout roses are still trying to bloom. It’s like they have been trying to will winter to stay away. I am (we are -hubby included)guilty of being unprepared here for winter. Not a good thing on a farm.

Frozen duck”pond” When the hoses are no good at all that will be the end of the pond fun for a bit.

I should have known it was on the way when I walked out to the barn the other day there was that distinctive nip in the air. I even thought to myself “winter is coming.” I just kept thinking we had time.

Today time was up. An overnight freeze brought us to our senses. We have always planned for winter way ahead. My planning drive being a part of my inner being. This year not so much it seems. In my defense I am über overwhelmed with a crapload of stuff. But I’m still kinda mad at myself for being in winter denial.

I do have a barn loft full of hay but our fields are still the dangerous green that makes our horses crazy for grass and us fighting with grazing muzzles so they can graze in the fields a few times a week. It’s been too nice out.  Winter was not on my mind much. I was still in October or something.  We have been so in denial and we haven’t set up like we normally have for the five winters previously that we have lived on this little farm. And today winter let us know she’s here.

Frozen water. Frozen hoses. That’s the sign and and all it takes for everything else to become clear that we are not ready.  We haven’t set up the heated buckets. We haven’t set up warming lights for the birds. We are going to have to start hauling water from the house BC the pump has a pinhole leak running to it and the cost to replace is huge -though today I’m reconsidering getting it fixed in some way BC it lightens up the workload a ton by alleviating hauling water from the basement.

I am not in panic mode but I am on I better get my butt in gear mode. I have to get some extension cords and a new water bucket to put on top of this cool flat metal disc that keeps the water in the coop from freezing. I need to put some better bedding down in the runs and I wonder if it’s to late to get some stone dust and gravel. I think we are always trying to chase water issues in winter.  We don’t want anything to freeze. Not the pipes not the ground not the water buckets. It’s really all about the water. Then that becomes about electricity. We need electricity to keep some of that stuff from freezing. We worry about footing for the horses- we were supposed to be getting the drainage issue fixed but the company that we hired hasn’t called to say we are on their schedule- I think the ground is too frozen now. It may have to wait for spring. We may have to order a load of stone dust for the paddock – that might help.  Ice and hooves don’t mix. At all.

So today and tomorrow and over the weekend -which is supposed to bring us more of that warmer weather that makes me forget winter – we will be getting prepared. Better late than never. No matter how much I pretend it’s not coming winter is going to be here. Soon. Ok maybe it’s here now.Maybe.

Thanks for reading.


our pump that we installed last year. the pipe to it sprung a leak the second week we had it. we couldn’t afford the fix last winter. but now I am wondering if its time.


The leak to the water pump is hidden under this table so the dogs wont get to it. Today we had the water on 5 minutes bc we needed to get water to the horses so decided to try the pump – and it began to gurgle under the table. sigh…it is always something on a farm!


On the creative front-Nanas quilt

This was my Nana’s quilt. It has been in our family for over 80 years. I wish I knew more about the history of it. But I do know it was given to her years ago by either her mom or grandmother. My nana gave it to me years ago,  well before I really should have had it but it has survived all these years – I have taken good care of it -as all things Nana mean a lot to me. Anything I have been given over the years that was hers is very sacred to me. Ask my kids. We have Nana’s desk, Nana’s hutch, Nana’s table – etc. My kids never met my Nana she passed away well before they were born but they know how much she meant to me. I had her in my life for 23 1/2 years. She was my Nana and a best friend. When she left this world at the age of 85 – my world shattered. But that is another story for another time.

I’ve decided to try to fix this quilt. My Nana was not a seamstress and neither am I but I think I want to take a shot at it.

There are a number of different fabrics that have been sewn in over the years. Many of the old silk fabrics have frayed.

You can see the patches my Nana sewed on the quilt as many are fabrics from the 70’s and have that 70’s vibe. She also liked velvets. I have some ideas for fabrics I want to use.

I know I could send this quilt off to someone who could fix it. But I guess I want to be part of this quilt like my Nana is part of it and all the rest of the mom’s and Nana’s before her.  So I’m going to figure it out as I go along -it’s a metaphor for my life!

On the furniture painting front I have a bunch of projects going on. The most recent was another trunk and I painted it to go with the coffee table trunk I refurbished.

This piece began life as an Asian influenced small trunk. As with most of our furniture it had seen better days. Kids and pets and a number of moves took it;s toll on it and I was just kind of sick of the Asian look as well.

I painted it with a satin black paint. I stenciled all the fun words and pics on it and then added a couple coats of Mod Podge on top to seal it.

I like how it turned out and it looks nice in the family room.

Thanks for reading….






I added some white paint so I could distress the piece and some white and red would show through

IMG_1737 IMG_1738

The day Santa got angry -(with me). 

First Visit with Santa! Dec. 2001 – Luke 15 months


Yep that’s me holding the crying baby in the photo above and that’s jolly old Santa…

I officially became a mom the day before Mother’s Day in May of 2001 – except I did not know it yet. I didn’t find out until Mother’s Day – that is when my husband was able to call me all the way from Kazakhstan (it s country far away – look it up here ) where he was in the process of adopting and then bringing our son home. That is were my first child(he is our youngest – it is complicated) was born. I wasn’t in the court room that day in Kazakhstan as I opted not to travel on the trip to get him. My incredible husband travelled alone on an over 2 week journey to get our son. When I answered the phone that Mother’s Day morning and heard ‘Happy Mother’s Day- you’re a mom” my heart melted and warmed and I cried tears of joy. My dream of becoming a mom had come true. I had never met this little 8 month old boy but he already had my heart.

I was 37 years old when I became a mother. I had waited a long time. I remember the first days after Luke and Kevin arrived back home – Kevin was in a stupor after traveling with an infant with double ear infections across the world. Luke cried much of the trip and if it were not for the kindness of some sweet Russian woman who took Luke for a while so Kevin could rest I am not sure my husband and his precious charge would have made it home.  Upon arrival on U. S. soil aside from kissing the ground Kevin became sick with some Kazak bug and slept for 14 hours straight. I had never cared for a baby really and I was thankful Luke slept much of the first day he arrived home- but after that I remember being in shell shock.  You learn fast! How thankful I was to have had many experienced moms to seek out answers from.

I had spent 35 years only caring about myself -and then Kevin- but he didn’t need constant care and attention. At 37 I was so self absorbed but I didn’t realize how much until I had another human to care for 24/7. I was in awe that one little person needed so much. It was in those first months after Kevin went back to work and I worked part-time but spent the rest with Luke that we bonded. I remember the day I realized that I would die for my child- a feeling you can’t explain but parents know it. You don’t have to have a child from your own body in order to love them. It is something we might think in our heads but a human heart is ever expanding when we open ourselves up. Luke changed me – I was his mom.

Having waited for so long to become a mom I wanted to do all the mom things that I had missed out on. I wanted to take Luke to the park – we did that a lot. We joined a mom’ s club and went to their activities. We began parent and child swim class. The list goes on and on an on. I had spent years longing for kids to dress up and take out for Halloween. We were so jacked up about it that on Halloween in 2001 we had a date in court to readopt our son in Maryland court- something we had to do because I hadn’t traveled to Kazakhstan. We took Luke dressed up in his halloween costume to our early morning court time and I think the entire room swelled at the cuteness of the little boy dressed like Tigger with his new parents. I know it was probably the best part of the day for the judge. It was one of the best days of my life.

For so many years before motherhood as I was shopping in the mall at Christmas time I would watch the kids line up to sit in Santa’s lap. Each one cuter than the next. Lines so long they wrapped almost to the escalator. I was not much for waiting in line- I am still not- but I always pictured myself waiting in that line with my future child. At one point the hope of being a mother almost felt like it was being squashed as my husband and I dealt with fertility issues with no cure in site. During that time a long line to see Santa seemed like a reward to be cherished. I wanted that prize.

So you can imagine when Christmastime came around in 2001 I wanted to take my now 15 month old son to see Santa for the first time. My husband and I planned our visit for after dinner so Luke wouldn’t be hungry. We dressed him in little overalls and packed his stuffy and blanket and headed to the mall. We rolled up like excited kids to the long line that wound it’s way down to Santa. I was beaming – probably chatting in line with any parent who would listen. The weariness of parenthood and the apathy that can come with it hadn’t fully set in yet and it was Christmas after all.

I was bone tired though. I didn’t know what tired was until my poor underfed Luke came home. He was waking us at least once a night from the time he came home at 8 months He was making up for lost time, I suppose, and we gladly – and sleepily- fed and changed him. After he reached normal weight (that means on the charts for his age) he began sleeping through the night. It was glorious and sad but not long lived as he made his way into our room for the next 12 years- a common fixture on our bed and when he got too big -on our floor. It never bothered me because I knew very well that he may not have been in my life at all- something that is hard to fathom but is true. So there I stood that evening in that long line with all the other parents waiting to see their kids with Santa. I was in my future- the one I had pictured as I trotted through the malls years before…

Then Santa got mad. At me. Pisser. After waiting in the line for over an hour – and yes even my elation was beginning to fade- we got close to the moment of truth and Santa’s lap – well a bench as it turns out. He had littles on his lap and bigs sat next to him. It was just about our turn. We began to give info to the elves that were helping santa. We paid and began the short walk to Santa’s lap/bench – and then..Luke saw Santa! Oh how his eyes lit up- and his mouth opened – and out came a huge wail! This was not the way I pictured this moment. In my dream, my kid was angelic – a cherub- longing to go into Santa’s arms and sit on his lap. Luke was beside himself -this was not happening- but it was- huge wails of fear. The elves told me to go up to Santa and lets see if we could get him calmed down. (really ? closer?). The closer I got the worse it seemed to get. The elves and Santa seemed determined to get this kid in a photo. So they told me to sit next to Santa with Luke in my lap. I wan NOT dressed to be in any picture. I was still in the “lets make the kid look -good screw how I look” mode of new parenthood. I had to get in the photo? I don’t recall now why Kevin didn’t get in it. Kevin was much better at calming Luke down- he is calmer by nature than I am. Santa was not happy because we were taking up time and also when one baby cries- well- it seems to set off other baby alarms and other babies begin to cry and then its a freakin’ cry fest.

Somehow I sat down with Luke in my lap- he was sweating and I was freaking out inside. The look on my face in the photo is me trying to not cry. We got the shot -up we jumped- see ya Santa. But NO Santa had to make me feel worse… Santa began to scold me -Santa was mad- at me!- he said it was all my fault and that I should have backed up to the bench with Luke looking out at the crowd and then sat down. I made him cry because I came in straight so that he saw Santa. No freaking Elf told me to try that Santa….and eff you Santa! But I said nothing- Kevin and I grabbed our baby stuff and our stroller and went to find a place to calm Luke down while we waited for the god forsaken photo to be ready. Santa had nerve.

They called our name and Kevin went to get the picture. We took a look at it and we broke out in such laughter people were staring. A photo that would live in Sweeney infamy. One that to this day we show Luke – who is now 15- and we all laugh- even him. Sadly we have other pictures with the same Luke scream face…the first haircut- maybe I can dig that photo up…yes Luke was notorious for open mouthed wailing.

Too bad -mad Santa- you didn’t wreck my day. You gave me a great story and I am very thankful for that day no matter how it went-because it was the beginning of many years of parenting- the good and the not so good- but it is a journey I never thought I would be on and every milestone – including the first crazed trip to Santa (we never went back to that mall for a Christmas picture) was a blessing to me. I know how lucky I am that God found this little sweet soul (and he is still sweet in his stinky teen body)to be my son. I will never forget the firsts – we are still living them with all three of our kids. Sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are until we are given something we thought we would never have. I finally got my reward- a photo with Santa and my son.

Thanks for reading…..

PS- Hey Santa I am looking at the picture and wondering where your right arm is????? I think his hand is near my chest—I never noticed this before – holy cow -and he was mad at me!?- LOL


Another first- Luke at JC Penney. This was his “I am about to cry and then wail” look. I think we got him to stay calm for a few more poses but it wasn’t easy…this is before his first haircut..another first and fiasco!


Trying not to cry for his first baby picture..why is this so cute to me?

Acclimating – Me or Ridley?

IMG_1693I am not sure I realized just how sensitive my dogs are. But all it takes is adding one new dog to the mix and -well- I realized my pack was on the sensitive side. I am not talking about their feelings being hurt. I am speaking about their ability to regroup as a unit when their dynamic is mixed up. The addition of Ridley has really stirred the pot up so to speak. It is not a bad thing just something I realized after the fact. I now have dogs who are overstimulated, I have dogs that are not eating, dogs who are trying to eat what the other dogs arent eating. I have dogs who are peeing on the floor. We are in a bit of a state of flux. And this to shall pass.

Ridley was, as expected, pretty confused his first couple days and kept more to himself when it came to interactions with the other dogs. He sniffed them and they did the same but he was aloof and kept his distance. With humans he was the opposite. He was jovial and attention seeking.A total love bug. Which I took as a very good sign.

Already part of the line-up. Lemon is happy being in the back by the way. She is a good treat catcher.

The first night Kevin slept with him in the family room so he would have space to settle in – our bedroom is a postage stamp and we have 3 (now 4) of our dogs sleeping in there. Since then he has been sleeping in our room and doing well. He was too big for the bed I bought him so we put two together. The other dogs have accepted the new addition into the den.

Ridley in the 'Den

Ridley in the ‘Den”

Since Sunday Ridley has begun to make his way into the pack. Albeit very slowly. He has played a bit more each day but my guys are rough and young and he backs off after a minute or two. Ridley has decided the best way to figure out where he will stand in this pack of 4 males and 1 female is to try to hump each one. That does not go over too well. The other dogs will make their feelings known but I monitor -with spray bottle in hand -so things don’t get nasty. I had forgotten what a process it can be. I love the spray bottle.

I have found myself being more nervous this go around then ever before. I know this is because of the last fiasco with the biting sheepdog but it more of an issue than I thought it would be. I don’t want my nerves to convey to any of my dogs and I try to make my reactions and needed corrections calm but inside I am nervous. I know some caution is important especially after last time. Ridley is literally an in your face pup and he is very tall. He wants to lick his people all over their face and when you are just getting to know a dog especially after your last experience was so bad it must be normal to be leery. I have been nervous more than ever that he will just bite me. I have not ever felt this before until the biting dog episode. I realize how much that event effected me. As each day has progressed I have felt the fear ease more and more. When it has come to the dogs getting to know each other I have had nerves more too. I know that some dog v dog altercations might occur. Dogs communicate with growls and snaps and sometimes those have to be a little more stern than others. I step in when I feel the room has a certain buzz to it. I can’t explain it but I just know when it is time to calm things down. I have tried to let things be and not let my anxiety wash onto them. I have tried to be who I was before dog bite incident and slowly I am gaining the confidence again that this is what I do – I know how to do this. Outside I have let them run about and I control the “gang up on the new guy” game as well as the ‘let me hump you’ domination dances if they get to where I think it might be too much for the humpee.

I realize the problem with my nerves is my issue and it has nothing to do with Ridley at all–  I decided I need to just relax. Things are going fine. This dog has shown no signs of abnormal aggression or any aggressive tendencies. He is appropriate with our other dogs. He is only trying to see where he might fit into the pack and even with the humping there has been no aggression – just normal dog stuff. Some growls some small snaps by all parties are part of the getting to know you and learning your boundaries in the dog world. Ridley is a typical OES and I find the breed to be very confident and I think it is natural he may want to try to move his way up the hierarchy. I suppose I may have thought that because he is old he wouldn’t care as much where he stood in the pack- a human idea put onto a canine being! Shame on me!

Couching it

Couching it

What I do know about Ridley is that he is a wonderful guy. He was excited to meet all the humans in the family and likes all people he meets- he is a bit in your face and that is something we will have to work on but it might dissipate as he settles into his new life off the streets. I did find out Ridley was on the streets for a while. Seems that he was put out of his previous home and did not leave. He just hung out there for who knows how long. He was looking pretty pathetic I guess and someone did call animal control. The owners said they did not want him any longer and that is why he was outside. I get somewhat unnerved by that – why not just take him to the shelter? I have a picture of him and I won’t share it but he was very matted and could not turn his head bc of it. He has since been shaved and we are continuing to treat a skin infection. It is much resolved now as the rescue made sure he was given proper medication. I took him to the vet today and she gave us medicated shampoo for the groomer to use on Friday when he goes in for a day at the spa- he will go with Rudy so he has a friend to hang out with.  I thought Ridley looked very thin but the vet said he needs to put on a few more LBS but not to go over board as it is better on his joints if he stay on the lighter side. We will treat him with some supplements for skin an joints and we had blood work drawn and a urine sample. (He went right on command for the vet tech- he was nervous!). The vet thought he was great and pretty darn healthy.

My shadow(s) - hint look in the mirror!

My shadow(s) – hint look in the mirror!

When we got him we weren’t sure of his age. The records from the shelter had confusing dates. We thought he was between 8 -10. Luckily he has a microchip and I was able to confirm the number at the vets office so i called the chip company today and the date of birth the shelter had was correct. 1-5-2005. So Mr. Ridley is almost 11! Aside from some old looking teeth and maybe his lanky Ichabod build he doesn’t show his age much. He has a slightly stiff back end and he is just a tad wobbly.  He can jump onto a couch but not into our car or SUV. When he was playing he was easily knocked over but got back up quickly. The joint supplements will help with that I am sure.

I think this transition has been more stressful on me than on Ridley. His story may sound sad but he has moved on. He has joined his new family with little issue. Dogs are ever so resilient. I think there always is some confusion for them when they go from one place to another but mostly they move into their new lives with ease. That is comforting to me. I know it must be for the many people who foster for rescue groups. They can love a dog for a time and then send it off to their next home knowing the dog will be ok. It is survival instinct for the dog and it is a great gift. They don’t live in the past or the future. They live in the now.

This is in the car on the way home.

This is in the car on the way home.

In the time that it has taken me to write this while being interrupted by work and dog breaks, the dogs have had the best play session yet. Ridley was running in the pack and everyone was excited to include him. There was some chase and some tag and some barking. I am feeling good and less anxious. It was just another step in the process of everyone getting acquainted and acclimated..including me. What a sweet boy we got- he is going to be fine- we are all going to be just fine.

Thanks for reading —

PS- Here is a video of Ridley’s first group play. They began to gang up on him so he backed off. But it was a beginning. My video skill with this one is not very good!

Back in time 

When I walked down to the barn last Saturday and then again on Sunday I was greeted by a sight that I hadn’t seen in over 2 years. (read about Sheldon’s return here) Our barn cat -Sheldon -sitting on the patio that leads to the gym part of our barn. I almost have to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe it was real. Sheldon was back and it felt like he had never left. But he had been gone over two years.
My husband had told me he felt like he went back in time. He can’t believe this cat is back. He’s doing all the things he did before. He follows us around while we pick up manure. He lounges on the barn patio and he hunts in our back pasture.  I don’t always know where he is. He has his elusive hiding places as does our other cat Mango. You

 don’t find them unless they want to be found. But he’s around a lot now maybe it’s BC I’m taking the time to really notice him this time around.

I forgot what a cool cat he is. My husband found him as a kitten running around at a Shell gas station in the fall of 2010. He had two dogs in the car as we were just completing our move to our small farm. He called me and told me he found a kitten-did I want it. I didn’t. I was in the midst of a horrible move. I wouldn’t be ready for a barn cat for a while -if ever. I’m very allergic to cats so I wasn’t so sure.( I’m very allergic to hay too. Yes I picked a farm to live on. You can’t let a little allergy stop your dreams! )So did I want the kitten? No! But Kevin had asked around and even went to some homes near the station -nobody claimed the kitten. He could have left it there but my mind flew back to the family of feral cats we had a few years back in our old neighborhood and the number I had seen dead on the roads. (Nobody would come trap them). And the road that the Shell station was on was so busy. The kitten had little chance of survival. I couldn’t let that kitten go once it was with my husband. Nothing ever goes according for to my plan anyway-  so yes bring it home I told him. How he got two dogs (who hadn’t  ever been around a cat) and a kitten and a child home all in our smaller car I have no idea. I think it involved a kitten hidden inside a shirt or jacket and some crazed sniffing dogs. Someone may have been clawed up a bit.

The kitten arrived home and we named her Shell of course. I had examined the kitten and decided it was a female. Shell had a nice ring to it for a girl cat. Shell acclimated in our barn garage (now our gym) for a couple weeks and then she(he)  was let free to hopefully kill some mice. At about four months I realized her meow seemed more deep. Hmm …and after a quick check (pardon me) I realized I had made a mistake she was a he. Ok quick name update to Sheldon!

Sheldon was our lone cat until I decided to adopt a couple feral cats -a mom (momma) and her daughter -a tiny kitten we named Mango. They lived rather amicably for a while. Momma was our mouser and Sheldon seemed to like birds. We lost momma to a virus after Sheldon left – I wonder if he even remembers she was there.

When he left a couple years ago and didn’t return we really lost hope after a few months that we would ever see him again. We figured he was next door at the neighbor that he had run off to before. But after a year or more went by in wasn’t so sure. It’s clear someone had taken him in and I’m really glad he looked so well -ok very fat but very well.  It’s clear to me now that he is very happy hanging out with us for the time being.

When he returned  the other day it was surreal and it still is. I think Kevin and I figured he was dead so this is such a cool experience seeing him again. We did decide if someone puts flyers out we will answer them. We will explain his story. It’s quite amazing.  He’s really as much our cat as he is whoever fed him all this time. Well as much as barn cats are ours anyway. I feel like they choose us.

We joke maybe this is a spa vacation for him. Time to shed some of the massive weight he gained wherever he was before. Perhaps as the weather gets colder he might pack up and go back to what I have now imagined to be a warm window sill with great views of birds. I hope he doesn’t though.  I didn’t  realize how much I missed him until he came back.  It’s a gift to get to be with him and I find myself appreciating him each day he is here. I tell him each day how happy I am he’s here and how I hope he’ll stay. I make sure I pet him in case it would be the last time. If  he does leave I won’t take it personally but I’ll be sad and I’ll always hope he’ll return. But for now I’ll enjoy the time and I won’t take it for granted.

Funny how the beings in our lives can teach us so much -human or animal. Sheldons return made me realize we don’t often get second chances with those we love and we best make sure we really see them each day -acknowledge them- and give thanks for their precense in our lives. Tell them we love them. Because one day they may not be there. Thank you chunky,sweet, barn cat for returning and opening my eyes and heart. I hope you stay but if you don’t that’s ok because you gave me a gift of a second chance that I won’t squander.

Thanks for reading.