Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Minky Bean --Fearsome Killer

Minky Bean looking all fearsome, rolling and meowing in our driveway, begging for a belly rub

We've got three cats: Minky Bean, Gypsy, and Little Kitten (AKA Fat *ss). The cats hadn't been introduced to my peeps until recently; I really didn't want the cats to develop a taste for peeps so thought I'd wait until the peeps had packed on a little weight and got a little bigger and didn't look quite so....tempting.

Once the peeps were outside in the Peep House and adjoining fenced run, we'd been keeping the cats indoors to prevent any sort of peep-cat altercation. The cats were getting antsy to go outside. I was getting tired of hearing their plaintive meows and cries, and I was also getting tired of cleaning out the cat box so frequently.

I took Minky Bean outside. Now, Minky Bean is a mighty hunter, which is one reason I was a bit worried for the peeps. She's brought down prey nearly as large as herself: fearsome bunnies, killer chipmunks, man-eating rodents of all sizes and deadly birds of all sorts. She even survived a coyote attack which left her with a broken jaw, permanently oozing wound on her lower jaw, broken teeth, and a horribly crooked face in a cute sort of way. I shudder to think what that poor coyote must have looked like after this encounter; obviously his dinner wasn't quite as wimpy as he was hoping.

So I carried Minky Bean up to the Peep House. Peeps were all out and running about, scratching and pecking and doing their Peeply Thing. Minky caught a glimpse of them and nearly tore my arm off in her frantic attempt to get away. Huh?!

I'm not sure what went through her head. Is she truly afraid of chickens? Was she pecked nearly to death by peeps as a kitten on the farm where I got her? Did she envision a herd of T-Rex babies on the attack?

Whether the sheer numbers frightened her (she's not stupid, she knows when she's outnumbered by a deadly foe) or she just didn't know what these creatures were is beyond me. It is a relief, however, to know we don't need to worry about Minky Bean dining on Peeps--meaty or marshmallow. Oh, and Gypsy reacted in exactly the same way as Minky Bean. Little Kitten never ventures outside...long story, that.

I've been in kind of a funky weird mood today, probably because I stayed up two hours past my bedtime last night reading. Shame on me! I took a nap when I got home from work in spite of the fact that it's a balmy 71 degrees F, sunny and perfect for gardening. I also have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow to get the results of my recent blood work and PET scan. I'm sure this has some bearing on my mood as well.

So, I'm taking a day off (mostly) from work around here and decided to go mushroom hunting. Walked up the road to the property where morels have been known to thrive, and where the landowners have graciously granted me permission to hunt. I cast my mind back to my childhood to conjure up all the memories of a successful mushroom hunt and the equipment I'd need: a bag for the load of mushrooms I'd find, and the perfect stick, one that is just the right length and has a slight crook at the end for pushing lush foliage aside.

Forest floor where I searched for morels. Note the lush growth of ferns, wildflowers, pretty little stream, and....poison ivy (left).

Armed and confident in my abilities to find the mother lode of morels, I walked the 3/4 miles to the property on Boyscout Road. Wow, lots of poison ivy! Lots of gnats! Mosquitoes galore! My morel mojo left me many years ago I'm afraid; I haven't found a morel in more years than I care to count. Today was no different. Wait...several years ago I did find one dried, shriveled up pathetic little thing, and another that had been growing
under one of our apple trees, also dried and shriveled. Does that count?

I think I had better luck finding mushrooms as a kid because (1) I was shorter and closer to my subject, (2) I wasn't allergic to poison ivy then and was oblivious to its I spend most of my time watching for poison ivy instead of looking for mushrooms, and finally (3), I had much more time to "waste" as a child. I spent nearly an hour searching today and feel guilty, somewhat, that I wasn't doing something else more productive.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)...view from below.

The only things I found on my mushroom hunt today were some pretty plants, and the solitude and quiet of being in the woods, alone. On my entire 1.5 mile walk on the road I didn't see a single car or truck, or any sort of vehicle. On second thought, that wasn't a wasted hunt at all!

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