Monday, March 12, 2018

More Dairies Falling by the Wayside

It's happening more and more often. Small family dairies are being forced out of business. When we decided to sell our dairy (it took a year!) it was a hard decision. Economically, well, it sucked. Prices were on the decline and our health went with it. Stress does terrible things to a person.

It was announced just last week that another milk processor, Dean Foods, would be dropping farms. ( This impacts several states. Walmart used to process their milk through the Dean Foods milk plants and have decided to do it themselves. In our market in Wisconsin the price is about the same as other processors' milk, but in other places, Walmart is practically giving it away. This is very bad for farmers. This is just another example, however, of what is going on in the industry as a whole.

We used to ship milk to Grassland and they dropped farms in 2017, according to them because of hauling charges and not enough markets for the milk, but they also built several mega farms of their own cutting out the little farms all over at least Wisconsin. I haven't heard about the other states where they operate. We waited for the letter saying they were dropping us before we could sell out. Thankfully it didn't come, but we knew we were on borrowed time. News outlets even investigated the situation. the governor's office got involved. Nothing ever got resolved. They weren't the only ones to opt for this cutting of the smaller farms for mega farms though.

On a Facebook farm group of which I am a member there were several pleas for prayers as people got the rug pulled out from under them. And now even more as the overly stressed and now financially destitute farmers struggle with what to do next. Depression has set in (farmers are one of the most under-served populations for treatment of depression in the country) and they are committing suicide at an alarming rate as a result. This has to stop!

The processing plants keep saying farmers are overproducing milk in this country and that is why the price is so low. That may be true to a certain extent, but why are they then starting up their own mega farms to produce more than they were getting from the very farms they dropped? Why is the price not reflected (other than Walmart) in what the consumer pays? The farmers sure aren't getting any of it.

As mentioned in a previous article, prices are low for farmers across the board. Wheat prices are way down but have you seen a drop in the price of flour or baked good? No.Corn prices likewise. Pork and beef are low at the sale barn, yet meat is still very high at the store. The average family farm cannot survive on what is coming in. One of these days when the small family farms are out of business and the corporate mega farms are all that is left, no one will be able to afford to eat. The rest of the food will all be shipped in from other countries, and everyone will wonder what happened. We small family farmers will know.

By the way, the kid that bought our farm six months ago is already going out of business. He says he just can't make it on what he gets. He's Amish. A lot of the very high expenses we had, like the insane electric bill, he just doesn't have.  (He does have electric for the water, water heater and milk tank and compressor, but nothing else.) His equipment is run by horses and therefore no diesel bill or mechanical expenses. They utilize home remedies before calling a veterinarian. They don't drive vehicles so no gasoline expenses. And still he can't do it. Think about that. 


I saw a protester's sign that read, "Why are you torturing animals? Buy meat at the store where no animals are tortured or killed?" Really lady? I know that is a digression, but still....

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Small Family Farms Barely Surviving

Most people do not realize the sacrifices faced by small family farms. Most people hear about - if they hear at all- large farming operations with several hundred to several thousand head of dairy cows or beef herds or hogs. But what they don't really show is the small farms, sometimes parents and their children, sometimes just a mom-and-pop farm like we had with a couple hundred or less (way less in our case) dairy cows and their offspring.

We used to be able to sell the bull calves, or steers if we kept them that long, to help stretch that already strained budget, but now those same animals are listed on the farm news as "call market for pricing" which actually means: the prices are so low we just don't want to announce them. $5.00 a head (or less) won't even pay the haul bill or gas money if you haul them yourself, much less the time and effort put into caring for that calf until it went to market. If calf milk replacer and feed is added, depending on how long they are kept, is added, forget it! I've been seeing that a lot for months now.

Hogs were actually listed, but when one figures the pay to weight ratio it comes out to a boar (the breeding male pig) paying about $48.00 for a 400 pound hog, and that's only if it weighs that much. We farmers try not to let any hogs going to market get that big because, believe it or not, the heavier the hog, the less it pays. Several years ago people were actually finding hogs dumped in their yards by frustrated farmers who couldn't get paid enough to even cover the cost of feed, much less anything extra, like labor, electricity to keep them in the fence, water them, lights if kept indoors. The price at the store for just 16 ounces of bacon is $6.00 or more at Wal-Mart of all places. Where the hell is that extra money going? It sure isn't in the farmer's pockets. Milk is $4.00 to $5.00 a gallon that I have seen. I've heard it's higher elsewhere. Cheese is out of sight at the store. But the price farmers get is up and down, but mostly down, and barely - if at all- covers the cow expenses, but not the family expenses.

A few years ago our milk rep brought a rep-trainee out to our dairy. He had a huge operation himself and even a second farm (wow! the thought of it!) so I didn't know why he wanted a job as a milk rep for the creamery. He actually said we had a nice 'hobby farm'. I don't call the work we did a hobby and I requested he not return. That was offensive and he is a farmer, well, he owns a farm anyway. How can small farms that work their butt off day in and day out get by if the big farms are not even respecting us? Geeze!

When we sold out our milking herd brought roughly half of what they should have, but the people who bought them had a hefty commission added to their bill (and we had a sale commission taken as well) so they didn't get by as cheap as they thought either. 

Feed prices are high, any medications (like electrolytes for chickens to combat weather or other stresses that might kill them), wormers, antibiotics for sick animals (shut up antibiotic nay-sayers; this isn't about the ethics of antibiotic use), etc., etc., fuel prices, utilities, equipment costs and maintenance, fuel, seeds, crop expenses, capital costs and insurance are astronomical. The cost of farming is very, very high and the profit is very low for small farms.

Families try to make sure the children still 'have a life' -as it were- being involved in clubs and activities, but still there are more who just no matter how hard they try they just can't spare the money it takes to do this. They have to feed (what they don't grow or glean from their own farms) and clothe their family. They need transportation and health care as well. Sometimes someone has to work off the farm to get by barely by the skin of their teeth. This makes makes it harder on the person left behind to do the farm work. The person who goes off-farm often has to do chores either before or after their job or both. I know a woman who is trying to farm, raise a family, and worked three off-farm jobs. You know what happened? Her family suffered, her farm suffered, and her health went to hell since she wasn't getting enough rest to keep going. She did finally have to go get a factory job, but it takes away from time with her children because it is night shift. She still isn't getting enough rest because a lot of the farm chores are done during the daytime when she is not at the factory, but they are meeting their financial obligations.

The next time you feel like blaming a farmer for the high prices at the grocery store or don't fully appreciate where your food  or other goods came from in the first place, remember the sacrifices we small farmers make to get you that food, that cotton, or wool, or leather for your clothing, or the many other products you buy that are a result of farming.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We Sold Our Dairy

Finally after a year on the market we sold our dairy farm. We are in the process of moving the farm items we are keeping and the equipment that is for sale onto the property we are keeping. We will be raising calves to at least breeding age and butcher age (for the steers), as well animals for our own use. Moving those animals yesterday was a real chore.

We spent a week building fence where previously there was none, even to the point of getting the extra heavy fence posts and heavier barbed wire for added strength. These young animals had never been out of the barn and we knew they would go a bit wild. A bit wild was a massive underestimation.

Our son and his wife and two boys were up for the weekend to help us get some things moved, including these heifers and steers. The first batch of 8 wasn't too bad as far as loading went. They are all a year or younger so they are smaller. However, when we turned them loose you'd have thought we were at a wild cattle round up. They broke through that very hot electric barbed wire fence as if it wasn't there, breaking the insulators as they went (but not the wire!). My son ran to the north end to get one that hauled butt for the woods and creek that runs through it. It took him a while but he got him back in. He was soaking wet up to about mid-thigh and the steer was wet and covered in mud up to his belly. He had gotten stuck in the mud and my poor son had to get in the creek to shove him out. Henry (the steer) was much more compliant going back to the pen than he had been the first time. He stayed as far away as he could from the fence so he probably got a pretty good jolt, not to mention the cuts from the barbs on the wire.

Three heifers headed for one road (thankfully the one the driveway is on and there is only one other house and no traffic). One we got back to the pen after some considerable running, but the other two went on into the brush on the opposite side which was someone else's property. They didn't mind our trespassing to get them back and they don't have it fenced in so no fences were broken. We finally got those two back in the pen and other escapees back and then did a head count. One short. Rats!

I looked them over and knew exactly which one and gave the grand-kids a description. Since they are 7 and 5 I told them to get on the highest tractor without a cab and be on the lookout. This kept them out of harm's way if the little heifer decided to stampede through the area where they were. We searched for over an hour for that girl. My husband and son went to the woods and creek to the north to look and my daughter-in-law and I hit the continuing area to the west. I went into the field on the other side of those woods and back into the woods and somehow got turned around trying to navigate through and ended up on the road. She went in from the opposite side and just by chance found that silly cow. She was literally only a few feet from where I got turned around just standing there in the thicket hiding (little brat). We all gathered around to get her out of the woods and headed back to the pen. Since she got a rest she was ready to run again once she was clear of the woods. There was of course another chase to get her there.

Well, there was one other little one (we decided to see if the guy who bought the farm wanted to buy her because she is only 3-4 months old and too small to be with those other ones) and two 13-15 month old steers. One was not too difficult to load, meaning it could have been worse. The other one, who is the older one, was a real pain and dangerous to load. He almost ran me over twice, my daughter-in-law several times and even got in the safe zine of the feed aisle and nearly got my grandsons. Their mom moved them into the parlor where she could get the door closed and then guarded it since it was at the end of the aisle he was supposed to be in (the opposite end). He ran and ran and charged and nearly took out my husband and my son, but after about 30 minutes of steer fighting he was loaded. Then we had to unload them...

The younger one (Moses) went into the pen and ran pretty good for a while but he didn't get out, but that stupid Barney showed every bit of his half-Jersey. He headed straight for the fence and broke off one of those extra-heavy duty fence posts and all the wire for four posts either direction. He was tangled up and cut something awful and it kept on frying him like a taser. He did eventually get up and untangle himself while we chased him for a while and got him back in. I had to whop him several times with a lighter weight fence post to put him in there. While my husband re-built the fence I and my son and daughter-in-law walked the fence from opposite directions to try to keep him from going AWOL again. He was pretty determined but a couple whops up side the head with that little post (it's made for orange snow fence so it is pretty much a pop can but effective) he stayed put.

When Barney got loose we sent the kids to the camper. My son parked there since we no longer own this farm and we weren't sure if the new owners would mind or not. Good thing, the camper was probably the safest place for them.

I did ask my daughter-in-law to imagine that goofy jersey was in excess of 2400 pounds, a head full of horns and a tall holstien bull. That's what hit me almost a year ago. She shivered.' No thanks, this was bad enough.' I knew it was. I could literally see the adrenaline going up as he headed straight for her at full charge in the barn. Thank God he turned around when she pulled the gate across, safely behind it. Everyone was very tense during that chase.

I don't think I want to do that again anytime soon. I am certain she doesn't.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Health Issues Result of Farming

I can't believe how healthy I used to be. When I raised vegetables to sell, I was healthy. My back got very sore from all the bending and heavy lifting, but overall I was very healthy. We moved to Missouri and raised hogs and beef cattle. Still for the most part I was healthy. I got a lot of injuries, like when my husband insisted we could rope the steers to vaccinate them, on foot and if the entire family (us and two little boys) pulled together we could get them tied to a tree. I got dragged more than once because I was the anchor while he gave shots (since I got Ivomek injected more than once!) and the big critter decided that was not going to work for him. There is something to be said for proper handling facilities.

There was also a few times when the hogs got me. We were trying to load a herd of hogs for market and he told me to just put my feet in the hog panel he had up against a tree on one end and the fence on the other and they would stop rather than rum me over. You know what? They didn't run over me, they lowered their heads and collectively lifted the panel with me on it and sent me into a tree - really hard. I was covered in scrapes and bruises and the chiropractor got paid a lot to fix my back. Then another time we were loading a borer (very big male breeding hog) to sell and the trailer got backed up in the wrong position (which didn't happen often) where the trailer door would be held in place by a large tree. The door ended up on the wrong side of the tree. Rather than move it and park all over again, being in a hurry he told me to just put my index finger through the latch hole and hold it up against the tree. I argued that the hog would just push it or try to go under. "No, he won't," I got told. "He'll stop when he sees the door and go into the trailer." No, actually he didn't. I got a dislocated finger and hit in the head with the steel door, and that hog got loose. I still had to help get him back in the pen and then (after re-placing the trailer) help load the hog.

I got the tractor stuck in the snow once when the dairy cows got out of the fence as I was trying to take them hay to entice them back into the fence. I was alone so it was hard to get them back by myself. I slipped and fell getting down to close the gate back behind them. I bruised my knee so bad it was difficult to walk for weeks. Of course I also tore a rotator cuff trying to deliver a large calf one day when I was the only one home. It took months to figure out what happened and I had lost use of my hand from the swelling. Thank goodness after surgery and physical therapy I got full use of it again, although now I have arthritis in my shoulder.

My husband and youngest son were throwing hay down from the hay mow one day and I thought they were done and was moving the bales out of the way. He threw down one last bale and it landed squarely on my head. It knocked me out cold. The chiropractor tried for weeks to straighten out the damage to my neck and back, but I have been plagued with issues ever since. I also lost a lot of height as it compacted my vertebrae and she couldn't get them separated again, at least not as much as it needed to be.

Last year I got attacked by a very big holstien bull. He was around 2400 pounds! It felt like getting hit by a truck. He nearly killed me and to this day I have no idea how I had the wherewithal or the strength to crawl out of that field as he backed up for another go at me. The injuries were substantial, including another torn rotator cuff, and I am still feeling the effects of the injuries, not to mention PTSD every time we move cows and one comes at me determined not to go where I want it to. I move, which is a no-no. I can't help if I see that stupid bull coming at me even when it's just a heifer. I say 'just a heifer' but truly they do weigh in excess of 500 pounds. That is not small! The smaller ones I handle okay.

These injuries don't even count the damage done to my lungs from dusty bedding and hay and fertilizer dust at planting season, milkhouse chemicals floating in the air on the steam, skin exposure to chemicals and to medications and animal insecticides, and getting occasionally stuck with a needle that isn't always before use.

I was at the chiropractor again yesterday with more issues relating to just working in the barn. She told me I am not too old to farm, I'm just too beat up to farm anymore. Truer words were never spoken!

Reason #1000 why the farm is for sale.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April is a Hard Month

You may have noticed I didn't write much last year, if at all. It was a hard year, and this one is not much better. April 2016 hit us hard.

Our beloved dog Chaos had to be put down on the 17th. She had been declining steadily with health issues and on that Sunday, when there was no way to get a veterinarian, she fell - several times actually. She had gotten unable to go down our few steps out of the house so we had to help her, and the return trip up was worse. Her back end was constantly going out from under her as her spine had fused in some places and outright dissolved in others. She was in pain in spite of the medication she was on. First she fell in the barn. It was her ritual to go for at least a little while just to get out of the house. I would take her in just before we started milking because we couldn't keep an eye on her and there was just too much for her to get into out there. After she kept falling I finally took her back to the house. When we got back a few hours later she was sprawled on the floor in her favorite spot right where I had left her. She had fallen trying to get up, probably to go get water, and she could not get up for anything. We managed to get her up but she winced, which told me she had tried and failed at least a few times and had bruised something. We got her up and she managed to get a drink but it wouldn't stay down and she didn't eat. Then she fell in the living room and within an hour her abdomen was swollen almost double and she whimpered. I got a look and saw it had started turning purple. She had ruptured something and was bleeding inside. It was the hardest thing we ever did to have to get her outside and put her down. There was nothing else that could be done. We mourn her loss daily. Honestly, I can't even see a picture of a yellow Labrador retriever or any dog that looks similar, without bursting into tears even now, a whole year later.

Then just a few days later I found out that the supposed pneumonia my father had been suffering from for over 6 months was not actually pneumonia. I told my mother to get another opinion from other doctors for several of those months. By the time they figured out (at another hospital) that he had Squamous Non-small Cell lung cancer he only had days to live. He kept saying he didn't want me there because he didn't want me to see him that way. I finally made arrangements to go anyway about the time he started calling for me at the hospital in his delirium. The first leg of my flight out of Wisconsin to Chicago was on time. Then the flight from Chicago to Miami (odd way to get to Tallahassee) was delayed. Then when we got to Miami the connecting flight to Tallahassee had already left and they had to book me on the next flight out later that evening, except the pilot never showed and they cancelled the flight until mid-morning the next day. No one had any flights out that night. He died early in the morning and I had missed the chance to say good-bye. I will never get over that!

My dad passed away 12 days after we lost Chaos. So, you see, April is and always will be a very hard month for me.If it weren't for my dear cats, I'd be totally lost.

                                                    My mom and dad (They are holding my first book)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Long Time Passed

I can't believe it has been so long, over a year, since I have posted on this blog. I do apologize.

A lot has happened on the farm. Milk prices dropped to impossible lows and yet the cost of replacement cattle stayed way high, unless we were selling of course. Cull cows, or cows no longer able to be milked, were really low. Calves too were really low as a result of a new high in beef cattle populations. We just couldn't catch a break. The stress, sleepless nights, and series of dangerous situations have led us to put the farm up for sale. We are not young and have discovered that stress can make any illnesses you already have, such as rheumatoid arthritis in my husband's case, worse and steadily worsening. There is only two of us and now I have permanent injuries as well due to an ornery bull.

The Bull
We finally changed bulls from the Jersey bull that constantly harassed me as if he meant to kill me, to holstien bull. It was time anyway as his offspring were about ready to be bread and he was not the bull for the job. This new one though, turned mean rather quickly. In September I had accidentally left what is called a 'can't kick' on a cow and then she got turned out after milking. (It stops her from kicking the person doing the milking and she was really good at it.) I went after her immediately but she got away so I followed her into the pasture- all the way to the other side near the cornfield. Enter Bob (the bull) who did not want me near HIS ladies. I tried to get her to the barn again so I could safely remove the apparatus. Bob kept between me and her so I decided it wasn't worth it and would just go back to the barn without her. She actually did know how to get it off if it bothered her that much, any tree would do it, I just didn't want to lose it. Bob wouldn't let me leave the field and in fact put his head down and pawed the dirt. I started backing up because that is the attack warning. I saw him coming and threw my arm up somehow, I guess instinct, to protect my check because that is exactly he hit - right- square- in- the-chest, and he has big horns! I went flying threw the air about six feet but he was fast and I was stunned so I couldn't get away from his secondary offensive. He beat me with his head and used his hoof and horns to flog me over. When he backed up to start all over again (toying with me I think) I somehow had enough wits about me still to get to my hands and knees and crawl the rest of the way to the electric fence and get under it. I went through all sorts of sticker weeds poking my hands and my knees and if I got shocked on the fence I didn't even know it. I just hoped it was enough to keep him at bay. It stopped him but he still pawed the dirt daring me to try to get back to the barn. I couldn't walk by then so that wasn't happening.

I screamed over and over for help but for some reason my neighbor just the other side of that cornfield, which was narrow, could not hear me. My husband was still milking the last round and the equipment was running. There was no way he heard me and I was probably too far from the barn anyhow. I was in crying and in severe pain so I couldn't even crawl to the road end of field to try to flag down any of the few and far between vehicles that might pass. It was almost dark so they might have thought I was just waiving if they couldn't see the blood all over my arms.

Eventually my husband did come looking when he realized I had not returned to the barn and saw the cows all standing in one place looking to the cornfield. Panicked, he ran and was relieved to see me sitting, squalling my head off, in the cornfield. That is until he saw how beat up I was. He helped me sort of walk back to the barn fighting off the bull the entire way, then helped me into the house. I got a shower while he finished in the barn but I knew he would be too tired to take me to the ER so I told him to wait until the next morning after chores. I should have called an ambulance.

The next day I had double vision (turned out I was wearing his spare pair of glasses and was too dazed to realize it- mine were still in the pasture). I was completely black and blue on my right side with bumps and bruises, and to this day some of the lumps still have not subsided. My knees were swollen and purple (both of them) and I had pulled the muscles in my ribs on my left side and I had torn the left rotator cuff in my shoulder. I also have damage to my pelvis which took a chiropractor to discover. My hips were twisted and shoved up out of place causing severe pain when I sit for very long and make walking difficult at times, although I can stand far longer than I can sit. Since it took so long before I just said, "screw it, I'm going to the chiropractor anyway," after the regular docs said not to, the damage may be permanent. She has tried several times to put things back in place but they won't stay.

Needless to say, I still have nightmares and when even a yearling heifer comes straight at me all I see is that stupid bull and I let her have way. My husband doesn't understand that. He thinks I should be over it by now. Maybe so, but I'm not. I haven't felt much like writing so my blogs have suffered.

Finally, last week Bob got sold. I can't believe my husband would not sell that dangerous animal knowing he had a taste for blood, and everyone who came by knew it. He menaced them from the fence and terrified potential buyers who were looking around.

We do have that first batch of heifers milking now and some more ready to breed. Bob was too big for them (he weighed in at over 2400 pounds - yep, it felt like getting hit by a train engine). I also have a ton of calves to feed on the bottle. We sold a few to test the market since last year they practically stole them from us so we ended up keeping about all of them. We are out of room. Due to the unfortunate fires in the lower Midwest (Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas) that destroyed multiple herds of beef cattle the price of bull or steered calves is higher so I can sell them without so much financial pain.

Our beloved Chaos also died last year, almost exactly a year ago actually. We are still mourning her loss. Our foundling cat Sable is in the house and keeps us entertained. She's not a dog, but she has captured our hearts in her own right.

Less than two weeks after Chaos passed, my father also passed away from lung cancer. He only found out he had that instead of pneumonia 12 days before he died. I was unable to get there before he died. I was stuck in Miami after my flight was canceled when the pilot failed to show. Yes, I was rather angry to add to my mourning. I tried, but he had said many times he didn't want me to see him like that, until it got to the end and he changed his mind. If I had been able to get there when my flight was scheduled I would have seen him at least for a few hours. The airline and I are not on friendly terms. 

Our female tabby (named Tabby) in the barn had a kitten who just would not open both eyes for the longest time. We named her 'Squint'. She's a goof ball. Tabby had another litter the other day. There are 5 of the little milkaholics. The guys, Whiskers and Zorro, are getting altered (read: neutered) in a couple of weeks. Yay! Unfortunately for some unknown reason the one who the most attached to me, 'Smokey' walked away last summer and never returned home. It's possible he got the cat flu. Whiskers and Zorro did and nearly died. Had they not come home when they did and let me nurse them back to health they would have died. The vet commended me on the save.

Well, that's about it. Until next time.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Cat Posse

It finally got to the point that we needed a cat. Being on a farm grain is everywhere and those nasty rodents eat about as much as the cows. Yuk!

It started out with does anyone have a good mouser they are willing to give up? Our nutritionist from the feed mill had two kittens that could do the job. Someone on Facebook that I used to work with had two kittens they were helping someone who was relocating get rid of. I ended up with all four. My dog, who is notorious for killing cats is old and crippled with various joint problems and a lack of energy so she finally just lives with them and they tolerate each other. Yay! Not old and sick part, of course, just the doesn't kill cats anymore part.

The first two little ones took to killing those mice right away. They are a real force to deal with. One, a male, is black and white and I named him Zorro. The other, a female, is a tabby so of course I named her Tabby.

The other two are male (long haired- not really a good thing) and came from an apartment. They have NO IDEA HOW TO KILL A MOUSE! One that is solid black is named Smokey. Originally I was going to call him Voo Doo after another black one I had, but he just isn't scary enough. The other one is a tabby and I named him Whiskers. They are all into being held and stealing the other two's food. My husband does not like these too "moochers". They are jumping machines, like flying squirrels. I get great comfort and peace in holding all of them though. He will have a hard time getting me to get get rid of any of them.

Yesterday, I came home to find a small, brown, long haired ball of fur on my sidewalk in front of my back steps. It could barely get around as it had been hurt somehow. The night before I heard a strange noise like something getting caught in the fan of the furnace and then loud meowing. I checked out the basement since it sounded like that's where it all came from and found nothing, although the furnace did start up when I was down there. I looked outside around my bedroom window and saw nothing as well. It was dark since there were heavy clouds blocking out the moon and the outdoor light doesn't shine there. Coincidence? If someone was out there, they should know better. We are loaded for bear and do not appreciate trespassers, especially around our bedroom!

That poor tiny kitten was injured. I took it inside and cleaned it up and dressed its wounds. Its front leg had the skin peeled off (and gone) almost the entire length of the lower part and one eye was gooey. I cleaned the eye with a cotton swab and discovered it had not lost it (whew!) but it was swollen around it. I put antibiotic ointment in the eye and it looks a lot better today. I am not sure the kitten was weaned. I got it to eat, but not drink, even milk. Wow, fresh from the cow milk could not get it to drink. I think I'll try a syringe to feed it milk tonight. I has a potty problem too, like it doesn't know to move when it goes so I find myself bathing it often. My husband didn't even bat an eye when I told him I found it and had it in the pet carrier in the milk house. He just looked at it when I got it out and said, "Yep, it's small." I named it Sable. Sable is dark brown, right? I have never seen a solid brown cat before. I also cannot really determine its gender. I keep calling it a her but it might be a him. I'll have look it up or ask someone better at it!

                                          Smokey and Whiskers, cuddlers- not mouse killers.
                                                    Zorro - awesome mouse killer and cuddler
                                  Tabby, kills mice like a champ, lets you hold her when SHE wants.
                                               Sable, the foundling. Needs to learn some things.

They are all real good at purring and cuddling. Tabby has to be in the mood, although she is getting better about it. My husband actually won her over with of all things Cheeze It crackers .He says he doesn't like cats, but Zorro (whom he usually refers to as 'Roscoe') is an okay cat. Zorro sits on his shoulder when he sits down in the barn. He won't even pet Smokey and Whiskers because they won't go after mice unless they take them away from the other two. He wants them gone. Hmmm.