Mismatched Cats

It is like a farm version of a BBC who-done-it !
Courtesy of my mother, the Barnyard Boss:

sheep and chicken poster

“Oh gosh, I am so thankful you will look after Rufus for me, since I can’t take him when I move to an apartment. I just love him, and he’s a great mouser. He catches at least 5 mice per day!” This mousing prowess was music to my ears, as the old barns were overrun by scurrying critters. Just the day before, upon filling a bowl of grain from the feed bin, I had been traumatized by two mice which ran up my arm as I delved into the bag. Match point to the mice, as the grain plus two mice went flying into the air, thrown off by furious arm shaking along with my ear splitting scream.
My friend drove away feeling confident that Rufus had found a good home and I couldn’t wait for the mouse harvesting to begin!
Rufus was never again to grace my barn. On moonlit nights, he could be discerned flitting between trees as a self-possessed feral shadow, and I eventually figured out that the daily reduction in cat kibble was solely due to the ever growing families of mice happily living out full and productive lives! Darn!
One icy morning, our neighbour leaned over the fence and inquired, “Hey, did you lose a cat?” As the deep freeze of winter had descended upon us, Rufus had taken up residence in his woodshed, and was now happily ensconced in a cozy cardboard box bed. I felt relieved he was protected for the winter and let his owner know Rufus was alive and well.
Two weeks later, I agreed to watch over the neighbour’s property while they travelled to India. Of course, I had to check on Rufus. Upon entering the woodshed, I spied the cardboard cat house and peered inside – yes, it appeared Rufus was in there, sound asleep. Thinking he might welcome a pat, I inserted my hand, but Rufus didn’t even twitch. He felt totally cold and still. I quickly opened the top of the box and peered in, poking him with a finger – oh dear, it was Rufus all right, perfectly composed and perfectly dead. His demise had obviously occurred while the neighbours were on holiday, and now here he lay, frozen solid in the minus 20 weather with nobody to mourn his passing. I decided it was right that his owner learn of his fate, in case she wanted to give him a decent burial.
It was a traumatic call –tears of loss were wept for her dear departed friend, but she told me it was easier if I would please dispose of his earthly remains. The neighbours were due back later that day, so I quickly removed the ever cold Rufus in his cardboard coffin to relieve them of such a sad discovery. Later that night, as a courtesy, I phoned the neighbours to let them know that Rufus had passed away and was gone from their woodshed.
“What are you talking about? We just saw Rufus and he is very much alive.” Stated the confused neighbour. “But Rufus is dead.” I contradicted “I have his body here in the box from the woodshed.” After a head scratching pause, he said “It’s not Rufus in that box. That’s my wife’s most precious cat of almost 20 years, and yes, he is identical to Rufus. He died in his sleep the day we left for India and we want to bury him in a special gravesite once the weather warms up.”
Two things happened immediately. The most precious “frozen” cat was returned to its rightful owner, and a phone call was made with the glorious news that Rufus, another most precious cat, had fallen victim to a case of mistaken identity.
I am done with cats for now. Advantage set and match win to the mice.

International Women’s Day


This post was originally titled “Disasters -a -Plenty.” But as it was International Women’s Day yesterday, let’s put a different spin on it shall we?


If you are a reader of offgridchick, you will have read posts of the struggles and challenges that my family has faced and overcome. This year has been an amazing year for the farm as we are now, for the first time, able to have meals consisting of meat and produce entirely from the farm. We have canned and dried much of our harvest from the summer and my parents just finished building a store on our property where they have been selling their produce and meats, in addition to art pieces from local artists. The store is an adaptable space and it has also been used for parties, yoga classes, and presentations. I am in awe of all that my parents have accomplished in a such a short time. It is truly remarkable.

My parents are an amazing team. My dad is a plans person. He is logical and analytical and likes to think things through. But my mom, she is the dreams person. She very rarely has a plan, but she always makes things happen. In order to purchase and start up the farm, they both had to be on board, but I’m not sure if it would have happened at all if mom hadn’t said “here’s a crazy idea, let’s sell everything we own, leave our jobs and start an off-grid farm in the middle of nowhere!” or “Hey Ernie,  let’s build a store on our property without any blueprint and just see what happens!”

The store without plans (just waiting for the siding to come)

The store without plans (just waiting for the siding to come)

I usually chat with my mom in some way everyday, whether it be on the phone or over email. I get daily updates of tasks that she has to accomplish that would seem impossible to most. Like staying up all night trying to help a sheep give birth to a lamb that is turned the wrong way. Like doing chores on the farm and having the wind blow the barn door shut and being stuck in there for hours because no one else is around. Like wrestling rescue animals to ground to administer antibiotics so that they don’t die from whatever disease they picked up at their previous owner’s establishment. Like taking in animals that are being sent to a slaughter house for no reason, at the risk of experiencing the wrath of my dad (“We don’t have room for more animals! Why did we just pick up 3 more horses?!?”). The most current example: running the farm single handed because my dad has a nasty cold, and still taking a phone call from her daughter who has something trivial to complain about and falling asleep in the middle of the conversation because she has been up all night.


I always have said my mom is super human, and I really don’t think that is an exaggeration.



International Women’s Day is so important, especially this year. But I would like to think that I celebrate my mom and the other important women in my life in some way, every day. They have made me who I am today and I know that I carry them with me as I face my own challenges. So thank you, to all of you.