Springtime on the farm is filled with newness and hope and expectations of young life — both in the fields and in the farmyard.
The trees are budding, the grass is greening up and the sounds of baby chicks chirping, calves bellaring and kid goats bleating for “Ma” are the things I looked forward to each spring on the farm south of Worthington.
Now, I live vicariously through farm photos posted by friends and former neighbors on Facebook. Oh, how I love to see the pictures of baby lambs, goats, calves and chicks. They look so adorable.
Down on the family farm, the only babies that can be found these days are kitties. Long gone is the goat herd, the sheep herd and the cows with calves. My folks didn’t even get baby chickens this year.
And so we’re left with baby kitties — and mama cats who are intent on keeping them hidden.
Two years ago, our cat population on the farm had dropped to zero. A few giveaways were brought in and now my dad says we have too many. I believe he counts more than 10 farm cats around the food dish, not including the babies.
When I was a kid, I’d spend hours searching for baby kitties in the springtime. Hay and straw bales would be tossed aside at the mere “meow” coming from the hay mow. It wasn’t long and they all had names — and there was usually one in every litter who earned the name Spitfire for spitting and growling and clawing whenever I reached out to pet him or her.
Frisky was a spitfire when she was a kitty, but she grew out of it. So much so that she’d let me dress her in doll clothes, rock her to sleep in the house (when Mom and Dad were gone, of course!) and carry her around the farmyard for as long as I wanted.
Yes, Frisky was a good cat. Of all the cats that have ever lived on the family farm, she’s the one I remember most — her and, well, Buffy. Buffy was a bad, mean, old, prowling tom cat who attacked me once. I won’t ever forget him either.
If we never have another cat like Buffy, I will be happy.
Mama Mia is to my little nieces and nephews what Frisky was to me. She’ll let the three-year-olds carry her around in not-so-comfortable bear hugs while purring so loudly her rattling makes the kids squeal in delight.
She’s also a good hunter, and a good mother too — even though she prefers to keep her kitties hidden from view.
It wasn’t Mama Mia’s litter, but kitties from an unnamed mama that I discovered last week during a visit to the farm. The mama, a regular half-wild farm cat with no time for human attention, didn’t like it one bit that I’d found her babies. She displayed even more contempt when my dog, Miss Molly, came to have a closer look.
Yep, the toe nails came out, the eyes took on a demon look and the spitting and growling was enough to leave Molly walking away with her tail between her legs.
And, there we have it — another cat we’ll simply call Spitfire.