Our Cats Have Wandered

Well…sad story at the Redeemed Homestead. Both of our sweet boy cats have wandered away.  We didn’t neuter them and they came of age…so now someone with nearby female cats may have a problem.

Oscar Leaves

Strong, sweet Oscar was first to leave. He’d started following us up the driveway to the mailbox, and the big new world out there was starting to grab his attention. Also, he was lonely because Coconut was an invalid in the house at that time. We were nursing Coco back to health, and Oscar was feeling left out, so it seemed the perfect time to seek his fortune in the wide world.

Sweet little Oscar, looking lonely

Coco Follows

Coco lasted longer. Because he had been mauled (that’s a story for another day), and  we nursed him back to health, we were sure he would stay close to home and not go wandering the treacherous forests at night again. We had gotten assurance from a friend that cats who get nursed back to health after a mauling incident generally stay home afterward, but apparently not forever… Coco did…but only for an while. He grew lonely because of Oscar’s absence, and meowed pitifully at nobody.  We thought he was recovering from his loneliness, but he wasn’t. He was just getting ready to go find another cat friend. One day, he too followed us up to the mailbox, occasionally stopping to survey the adjoining field. We swayed his interest then, but a few days later, he too was gone.

Coco lounging on the sidewalk, looking for someone to play with

Why?

So, what happened? Why did these little guys run away?

Well, we have a few ideas:

    1. Our little boys were growing up. We didn’t neuter our cats, and they were starting to look for a mate.  So if you want your pets to be free, and still stay with you, you’ll want to get them fixed so they don’t go looking for other cat company.
    2. They were lonely. When Oscar ran away, Coco was stuck in the house, so he had no one to play with. Coco ran away after Oscar had already left. In both cases, they were missing their brothers. Even though cats are generally independent and not super social, if they grew up together, they will miss each other if they’re separated.  So if you get two cats, just keep that in mind and give them lots of love.
    3. They were starting to realize there was a wider world beyond our farm.  These guys had both started exploring beyond our property before they ran away. Hunting in the woods at night is what got Coco mauled. Following us up to the mailbox preceded both the runaways. And not locking them in at night facilitated both of these run-ins (and outs.) So teach your cats early on that you are their family, and maybe lock them in at night, even though it curtails their hunting opportunities.

So, it looks like we’re fresh out of cats. But there is still a glimmer of hope. A friend told us that their cats have run away and stayed away for a few years, and then suddenly reappeared, ready to start over. So maybe they’ll return. But then again, maybe not. You never know. Maybe we’ll just have to get some new ones.

 

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Our Chickens are Eating Eggs!

So our chickens are eating their eggs, and it is cutting our egg production by 10% (minimum), and makes a mess of the remaining eggs (yolk is on them and bits of straw/hay/nest box material sticks to them!)  Ugh!

The big mistake: laziness and not understanding the why around the what I am about to share here.

Justin Rhodes talks about washing and crushing egg shells to feed back to chickens for a good source of calcium.  But I didn’t understand the reason to wash and crush the egg shells.  It’s because of the egg residue left on them. Chickens love it! And if you don’t crush the egg shells, they can tell by the shape that that tasty residue came from…you guessed it! An egg! More recently I’ve heard you should even possibly “toast” your egg shells to remove the taste entirely.

If you don’t wash, crush, and possibly toast/heat up the egg shells, your chickens will get a taste for egg yolk, which is what they ate while in the egg.  (Ah, the good old days.)

If they get a taste for it, they will eat eggs!

So How Do You Fix It?

Some options for remedying this problem:

  1. Calcium supplement – oyster shells –  we get a 50lb bag for ~$10 at our farm co-op.
  2. Golf balls in the nest box to give the birds are sore beak if they are pecking at objects in the nest.
  3. Roll-away egg boxes (this isn’t an option for us and it doesn’t really fit with God’s design for the chickens in my opinion.)
  4. Collect the eggs more often – don’t leave any tasty treats for them to eat!
  5. The Hamilton Beach vacation for those offending hens.

We have tried most of these options and the behavior has settled down quite a bit.  #4 above has been the most helpful and… wait, I forgot the best option:

Pray and ask the Lord to change the chickens’ taste buds.  Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you!  1 Peter 5:7

 

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