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Furlings (wcb/wdb) Feed

September 02, 2006

wcb: some babies never grow up

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige... Clare's been MIA for a bit so the WCB home has been floating around the 'net, landing this week at Miss Elle's page where Darlin' Darla dodged the hurricane yesterday and is now holding court for all her feline friends...

fruffle standing nursing
yes, that's one of the kittens, yes, he's getting rather big now that he's four months old, and yes, he's trying to nurse... 'nuff said?

July 29, 2006

wcb: adorable kitten needs home

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige...

little Grayling in a little box

Take us in, we have rode the Orphan Train
Take us in, we need a home, we need a name
Take us in, oh won't you be our kin
We are looking for someone to take us in

              from Orphan Train (Utah Phillips)

Poor little grayling! He's all packed up and ready to be sent out on his own. Not exactly an orphan, and I doubt it will involve trains, but he is looking for someone to take him in. (Either that or we will, as we've been joking, end up with five kittens!)

Did you know that there were actual orphan trains in the United States?

Started by the Children's Aid Society of New York after the civil war, the orphan trains relocated somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 children from the east coast to parts further west. (Like in times of war, exact numbers are hard to come by, as I was typing this, someoneElse asked, "Isn't it closer to 350,000?") Unlike the cities of the eastern US, the west had the space for more children and they were wanted by many families, even if only to work as farm hands.

While a lot of these children were, in fact, orphans this was not the case for all of the children; a number of them came from families who simply couldn't afford to care for them or had parents that were deemed "unfit." Siblings were often separated, never to see each other again. The trains operated from the 1850s to the 1930s, paralleling the expansion of the railroad tracks, stopping at each town on the westward journey, described here by Utah Phillips:

The farmers and their families they came from miles around
We lined up on the platform of the station in each town
And one by one we parted like some living lost-and-found
And one by one we all were taken in

In any case, many of the orphan train children were destined not for adoption but for indenture. Yes, you read that right: indenture.

For a country just ending slavery yet needing to fuel a massive westward expansion, the attitude — and legal reality —  that children were property made them a handy source of unpaid labor. Children of the orphan trains often discovered that they weren't legally part of what was sometimes the only family they had ever known at the death of a parent, when they discovered they were cut out of inheriting a portion of the farm they worked as a child. (since I learned this, the verse above evokes a slave auction...)

Other bits of the Orphan Train history shed light on some of the more shameful and tragic aspects of the program: children as young as five being arrested and thrown in with adult prisoners before being sent west; beggar children, referred to as "street Arabs" or "city Arabs" were sent west to "good Christian families"; reports of some girls ending up as child brides, sometimes to much older men.

I find it fascinating that so few people know of the Orphan Trains — even though admittedly I first heard of them maybe a decade ago when someone played the song at a "hoot" — since it seems like something we should have been taught in school. Perhaps it's just one of those oh so awkward moments in history that we'd rather just forget about.

Maybe the Internet will help change that: The Orphan Train Riders have a site, PBS did an American Experience on the topic, a museum (The National Orphan Train Complex)  opened recently, and there's even an Orphan Train movie. (which reinforces my point, the only comment includes "...I didn't know...these orphan trains were something that really happened.") The last of the Orphan Train riders are getting well along in years, if we don't hear their stories now, it may well be too late.

July 16, 2006

wcb: toddler kittens

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige...

People talk about dog years, but what about cat years. I'm not sure how long a cat year is, but I can tell you one thing: six week old kittens are the same as human toddlers, about 18-20 months old, if my memory of the theKid is right. Everything fragile that I care about is packed (or sitting on a tabletop, well, mostly sitting on a tabletop), the house is thrashed, kitty detrius is strewn down the hallway, and a few times an hour I hear the thump of a head hitting hardwood and wince, waiting for the following whine.

Personalities are emerging, to the extent that we can guess which kitten is connected to which noise, and, more often than not, why. If there's a sudden lonely cry, it means T3 just realized she's all by herself and wants attention. A pained yowl means theFluffling has forgotten the size difference between himself and the "three babies"...again. (resulting in an introduction to gravity — wherein he is gently dangled upside down for 15 seconds while being talked to in theBadVoice — then someoneElse holds fruffleFace in his lap, while tenderly stroking the his face and saying, "you have to be gentle with the babies" repeatedly while I dissolve in laughter.)


Then there are days like today. I sat down on the floor with a camera while the kittens romped on a sunlit patch of floor. Adorable kittens playing in gorgeous natural lighting and space for about 170 pictures on my CF card, what could go wrong...go wrong...go wrong.

Perhaps there will be more pictures this week. Perhaps not. Perhaps if there are more, they will be of kittens that are in playing in natural light rather than kittens who are climbing on me in natural shadow. Perhaps not.

July 08, 2006

wcb: four kittens and the outside adventure

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige...

t3basket This week starts with a basket of cute. Three tiny (well, not quite so tiny any more) kittens stuffed in a basket that's barely large enough for two. This may be why you can only see two of them, the third is being squished — rather like a bug  — underneath these two.

That bright little face, btw, belongs to T3 who is one of the two kittens available for adoption. How could you not love that little face? And if you're a real softie, her grandmother Tux is also available. She's a real sweetie too.

Anyway, it's a good thing that they all got some rest too because the next thing on the big kitten agenda was outside! While the fruffleThing used to be an outside kitten before she came to us — mom was a stray who moved in at my friend's bed and breakfast — the other three had no clue. 

Continue reading "wcb: four kittens and the outside adventure " »

June 29, 2006

kitten update: Fluff joins the family

Riverflufftussle1 Quick update on theFluffThing. He's gotten comfortable enough that he feels free to take on River in tussles while the three smaller kittens snooze. Which is good for the smidges because Fluff is bigger enough that he's a bit overpowering when he goes bat sh...well, let's just say one of his nicknames is guano... grin

He's usually pretty good with the littler ones, but once a day or so we'll hear a squawk and have to run and reexplain the relative strength of smaller kittens to the fluffKitten. I doubt he understands the speech, but having it delivered while he dangles upside down face-to-face with one of us might make some impact. Then again, having been doing it for a few days, I am not so sure. So it's nice to see him romping with River who is more than happy to straighten his little fluffness out.

4kittensnursing006 On the other hand, he can be the most angelic thing in the entire world. As shown here, where one of these kittens is not like the other one...that not-so-little kitten does belong. This happened after about 48 hours of sporadic hissing from River, which is pretty good all in all.

Today they all had their first adventure out in the garden. But those pictures are for another day.

June 24, 2006

wcb: and then there were four again...

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige...

three climbing kittens Starting with the three almost month-old kittens because, even if they are pretty much a blur, they are at least predictable. As in, they are supposed to be here. They are each between 550-575 grams as of yesterday and we've had to redesign the kitty containment system in their room to make the board across the doorway higher — it's now two feet and I give them a week tops before the first one gets claws over the top edge in a single leap. Then this barrier will fall, as the puny 1x12 fell before it. With any luck, we'll have the kitten section of the yard fenced in by then. So far, we've been about a day ahead of them. Doesn't bode well for us puny humans.

They are also getting older — not just bigger, older. They are a lot more like tiny cats now than they were just a few day ago: they scatch behind their necks (and lose their balance and topple over about half the time) and spend a good chunk of their waking time playing bap and bite, which seems like a fun game if you're a kitten. Plus they have their little paws under them and are walking steadily and even doing short bursts of running...until their back legs lose traction on the hardwood floor and they end up sprawled indignantly on their bellies.

I took more than 300 pictures of these three furlings this past week. They all look like this one. Well, that's not entirely true...some are blurrier. I need to get them outside in bright light so I can get a decent shot for next week. (Plus, I need to get a tummy picture for Layla...)

But didn't I say something about four?

Continue reading "wcb: and then there were four again..." »

June 19, 2006

wcb: in which the kittens climb the wall

This week brought great change in the land of the smidges:


We got our first inkling that something was afoot (apaw?) one morning when we awoke to a lone kitten next to the board we had placed across the so-called-sewing room** doorway. Fortunately, we had expanded our kitten-proof zone the previous day in anticipation of just this event so while the furling was unhappy at being alone he was at least confined to a small part of the house. I'd give you three guesses which kitten, but you know which one was 'nymed Trubble, so it's probably obvious.

Greatescape011 The next afternoon, I went to check on the smidges and found this. Apparently escaping is exhausting and the smidges had to crash. but look! That all-gray face that seems somehow ready for more...guess who? The more I watch these guys, the more convinced I am that we got Trubble nailed when he first tried to escape from the 'birthing bed' less than ten minutes after he was born.


  A little while later, after we put back them back into the blue box, T3 had to show her mom just how fewocious she can be. Be amused, be very amused.

The three continue to grow apace, all of them being around 400 grams now, I believe. Everyone is up and moving around pretty well too. The last day or two has seen the beginning skirmishes of the Tussle War, look for pictures of that next week.

I want to thank everyone who left a comment or sent mail about Tidbit. He was an awfully special little thing and it was nice to hear he'd tugged a heartstring or two out there.

The rest of the week's cats can be found at Eat Stuff, where Clare and Kiri have taken a moment from their adventures to round up the cute.

** I use the term "sewing room" to describe the room that has been occupied by one cat or another for well over the half the time we've lived here. The room in which I have used a sewing machine once in eighteen months. The one with the shelves full of fabric that have been unpacked, stacked, semi-repacked, unpacked again, organized "for real" a few weeks back...and then taken over by River when she moved her kittens in there, requiring me to pack three shelves (out of five) lest they become kitten fodder. That sewing room. Hrumph! Might as well call it the kitten room.

June 13, 2006

kitten update: new pics!

This one's going to be short and sweet. Fresh pictures of two kittens. (and then I'm going to go write something about food)
T315days Grayling15days

a tree grows in evenTinierTown

Tidbittree009 Late this afternoon, as the rain crept up our valley, someoneElse and I took a scrap of fabric from the very first shirt I made for him, wrapped it around a tiny midnight-black bundle and buried it under an oak-leaf hydrangea while River stood watch. The hydrangea, carefully located where I can see it from my kitchen window, will soon be covered in weeping branches of tiny white flowers...which seems appropriate somehow.

Tidbit died shortly before 5 this morning in a pool of light spilled from a flashlight in a darkened kitchen, on a towel on the floor surrounded by me, someoneElse and River. ...and a sockful of warm rice. I have more to say, just not quite yet.


This is one of the very last pictures I took of Tidbit, getting a kiss from his mom after one of his last feedings. Probably the one where he gained that misleading 4 grams!

River is roaming the house looking for him; she paces the hall, lays down in front of each closed door in turn, then comes up to us and burbles questioningly; she has repeatedly checked every room (and closet) in the house. (we did show her that he was dead, but not being a cat psychologist, I am not sure how that whole 'understanding' thing works here...other than apparently not so well yet) It's heartwrenching to watch. We pick her up, we skritch her ears, we explain he's gone and we miss him too...then I cry.

The rest of the kittens, on the other hand, are doing well. They've gained 20-30 grams in 3 days (their little  bellies are bulging) and Trubble is starting to look up towards the top of the current box as he stumbles around learning to walk.

June 12, 2006

Tidbit bits

After a day full of experimentation with liquids (sugar-water, honey-water, homemade goat milk-based 'tidbit food,' filtered water, as well watered down versions of everything) and methods (wrapped in a kitchen towel, head being stroked, eyedropper moving between the corner of his mouth and the front to encourage licking up his food) Tidbit is up to 200 grams! I know full well that 4 grams is very little in the greater scheme of things and that it's likely to (literally) evaporate overnight, but it's the first gain in ~48 hours and it feels good. Plus there was a moment when his tummy bulged down to fill my hand under the least a tiny little tidbit of a bulge.

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