Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In Memoriam Hazel the Cat

Most farm animals have a different life than their city counterparts.  Our animals are working animals - they each have a job or two here on the farm.  Dogs keep unwanted animals away from garden and predators away from  poultry.  Cats keep the rodent population down, and this keeps damage to vegetables to a minimum

Twenty years ago we acquired the first cat here.  Ken answered an ad in the newspaper, we drove over to the farm and he picked out a calico - the shy one in the corner of the porch.  She had the most beautiful hazel eyes, so Ken named her Hazel.  She hung out in the van a couple days and got used to the place - Abbie the border beagle, chickens, geese and later, pigs.

She more than proved her worth.  She was not only a great mouser, but she also killed chipmunks and even weasels.  Once Ken caught someone "rescuing" a chipmunk from Hazel's paws, and Ken explained that unless she wanted bite holes in her tomatoes, it was best to leave Hazel to her job!  When I told someone about how she took out weasels (a difficult thing to do requiring speed, accuracy, and a degree of toughness) I was told she was a mean.  "No," I said, "She is effective!" Having a cat quick and tough enough to take out weasels is a blessing to a poultry owner.  Weasels will kill an entire coop of chickens in one night. And the border beagle watched and learn hunting techniques from Hazel, and could then catch rabbits!

She had one litter of kittens before she was spayed - and what a litter - so many wild colors and patterns.  If I had a digital camera and face book back then ... We easily found homes for all seven of them. 

After ten years as a working cat Hazel started to seek the comfort of a warm sunny space on cold winter days and gradually moved to a mostly indoor cat.  She followed the sun as it moved from one part of the house to another, and then after dark to a space near the wood stove or cook stove.  These last weeks she lost weight and yet she still continued going up and down stairs, purring when patted, letting us know if she wanted something.

I miss her terribly.  I am consoled by the fact she had a great cat life.  We appreciate all she did for the farm and for us. 

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