Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fred Flintstone's Thumb

Like I've said before, there is a standing, unwritten, law in the barn:

"No cats allowed on the milk stand while said stand is being occupied by a cow or goat"

This has several reasons. Two of the most important are the safety of the cat, the other is the safety of the milker. Too many times to count, I've seen an accidental brush with a feline tail, or a rub on the cow's leg, result in a mashed kitty or a spilled bucket.

I've even had MY foot stepped on - and THAT'S probable cause for BBQ.....

So - in order to prevent these and other things from occurring, I enforce the rule. The first time it happens, I pick up the cat and gently toss it off the platform. When it hops back on (and it ALWAYS does...), I toss it a little further - increasing the distance according to the number of infractions. It's never very far - just enough to (MAYBE) sink it into their furry little minds that the milk stand is not a good place to be when it's occupied.

This is where they get "smart". They attack in pairs by zooming across the stand just out of reach, or they sneak on from behind me. I still catch them, but I have to be quick.

Some of the cats have been around long enough to know about it - and stay out of the way. The new kittens we brought home a couple weeks ago are still learning - there have been at least TWO "brushes with death" that I can think of.

One lasted only 5-6 seconds. The kitten was too close to Daisy's leg when the cow shifted her foot. It caught the kitten by the tail.

It was OBVIOUSLY not pleasing for the kitten - and hard on everyone else's ear drums.
It lasted long enough for me to reach under the cow to tap her leg so she'd move. Instead of reshuffling the cow - all I got for my effort was a scratch on the finger from the cat because I was in range and - naturally - everything was MY fault.

That was last Monday. I figured that the kitten had learned a good lesson, because she dove out of the room as fast as her short little furry legs would move, once Daisy moved her foot.

Apparently, kittens have short memories....

Last Friday I was smoothly humming along with the morning milk. Mabel was on the stand, and the cats were milling about. All of a sudden, we all (and people six counties away) hear a high pitched, blood curdling scream. Well - ok, Mabel turned a deaf ear....She stood there, unmoved and unmoving, for about 3 minutes with this poor kitten's hand under her shoe.

My first instinct was to reach under the cow to tap her leg so she'd shift her foot. Since I DON'T have a short memory, I pulled my hand back before it got within claw range. I did manage to tap Mabel's leg just out of reach of the cat, but it did no good - the feline was stuck for the duration.

All the "cat-erwalling" and wailing started the goats to hollering, and brought all the other cats out of hiding to stand around the victim, taking bets on how long she'd last.

Cats are evil creatures.....

Here was this poor, "innocent" kitty, with her hand being flattened by a 900 pound monster, and all her friends could do was stand around and gawk.

I just stood there and marveled....

Anyway, after what seemed hours, Mabel FINALLY moved her foot and let the mashee victim loose. It was probably a good thing she hadn't waited much longer - the kitten was running out of air. She immediately zipped off to parts unknown to nurse her wounds. I had visions of her sitting there, in the shadows, holding her hand and watching her thumb pulse like Fred Flintstone's did in those old cartoons.

"FOOM FOOM FOOM FOOM....."

I've noticed that that particular kitten is WAY more careful about being around cows now, and she seems no worse for wear....

Except for that clown shoe she has to wear on just the one foot...

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