Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lonely Ewe and Wild West Colonies Now

Years ago, in 2004 and some in 2003, I trapped two colonies south of Harrisburg. The Wild West colony turned out to be about 70 cats and was reported by a rural route mail carrier.

The old warehouse and barn were full of cats, mostly black cats, and kittens. Some were very ill. I remember having about a dozen or more of the kittens in my bathroom, in that old tiny place of mine in Corvallis. Some tested positive for Felk, about 16 and were euthanized. Others, living right beside the positive cats, were negative. The positive cats seemed to be females and their offspring and a couple males. Other than that, the disease was limited. The colony changed my perception of Felk spread.

I rehomed probably 40 of those cats I caught and every single kitten there plus some teens and adults. My last contact with those folks was when I was driving by once a couple years after getting them all fixed, just to check for unfixed cats. The couple were both at work. However, I heard tiny mews coming from the loft of the barn. I borrowed a ladder from a neighbor and climbed up into that rotted and dangerous loft. There were large vacant holes in the floor boards beneath the hay. I had to be very very careful.

The screaming grew more frantic as I approached a mound of hay. I parted the hay to find a tiny ten day old Lynx Point Siamese kitten. I could not believe it. I carried him down in my pocket, returned the ladder and went to find KMR. Later, the couple said he'd been crying up there for several days. Apparently his mother was hit and killed on the road. He got a home down near Roseburg. He went to the same people who adopted Mercy, a terribly starved Siamese female I trapped on 13th and Lafayette in Albany. Mercy would have died had I not trapped her the vet said. She was skin and bones.

I trapped at a house farther down, too. I called it the Lonely Ewe colony. A kind old couple lived there and boy were they characters. The man just loves sheep. He used to raise them for food, but then he became attached, he said, and aware they had feelings. One day, they were sitting at dinner, his kids, his wife and him, eating mutton, and they all just looked at one another. Then one by one they emptied their plates into the trash. Never again did they kill another sheep.

He had a ewe there, an old one, alone then, as a pet who adored him and he adored her. The old man was famous for waving at everyone who passed on the road. He'd even sit by the road in a chair with his fiddle and play to anyone or anything, including the birds and the cats. I took a shining to that old couple. Then things went south with my living situation and my car. I had the old corolla that was dying then.

It was right about the time Brook Wilberger went missing also. Because my old car died a few days after she disappeared and that Monday, when she was taken, I passed very near that complex she was taken from, when, exhausted, I was returning cats to the West Warehouse and Lonely Ewe colony fixed the day before, at a Eugene FCCO clinic. I felt so terribly guilty over being exhausted that Monday when returning cats later on, when I found out she'd been taken that day at the time I was driving near there. I'm usually so very aware of everything. What if I had not been so tired, maybe I would have seen something. I passed right by the complex at about the time she was being kidnapped. It hurts to think about it to this day.

Anyhow. I got all the cats fixed at the Wild West colony and at the Lonely Ewe colony, but I hadn't been back for years. Today, delivering fliers around and about in rural areas, I made a point to stop by both locations.

The Wild West couple are both unemployed now. They both lost their jobs. They have 12 or 16 of the cats, now old, still there that they feed every night. There have been no kittens since I got the cats fixed, and no new arrivals.

I went on down then to the Lonely Ewe. That ewe is still alive. I asked old Jim how old she is now. He said "About twenty I think." She sleeps a lot and has to have a lot of attention from him, he said. A few years ago, something chased her, in the night, into the creek. She fell down the bank. He found her there the next morning and got a neighbor, who brought over a front loader and they put her in the bucket and hauled her out. She survived but he says he hides aspirin in her food and that helps her, but if she smells it, she won't eat it. I went out and peaked at her laying in the grass, sleeping in the sun. About that time one huge black and white eartipped cat peeked out of the shed. All his cats are still there, old now, too, loved by him.

His wife died a few months ago. He said she had wanted to see me before she died, but I'd had to move, in the years between, and they could not find my new number. She died of heart failure, he said. In the end, her heart couldn't pump enough oxygen to keep her going. I said "That must have been hard on you, losing her." He looked down and said, "It was harder on her." He had a relative there helping him clean.

He's the same Jim, optimistic, funny, smart, witty and full of life. I got a bag of cat food out of the car. I told him, "I was going to give this to somebody else, but I got mad at them, so here, you have it." He packed it off.

I stopped by the Catmans' place then. I couldn't find him at the door, so I went to the office, which is now a quilting center. His partner is an excellent quilter and all the ladies in the area meet to quilt. It's a hub of fun, I think, a club kind of, and the humor is sometimes wicked!

So Roger finally came around, and he didn't want involved in trapping his old employee's cats. He said he had no time, but he'd leave her a message and told me to stop by the warehouse out there, near where she lives, and tell Harry I was going out, since he owns the property, and that nobody would care, including his old employee, that I was getting the cats she feeds fixed. So that was good news and good help.

He says he's got another male showed up needs fixed. I said "Well, you know the drill well enough by now. Tie that trap of yours open and feed in it, then cut that line." He said, "Yeah, I know the drill. I'll call you." They loaded me up on cookies, said to stuff some in my pockets. I objected, citing my waistline. But they would have none of that.

I think about that old man down there, who loves his ewe, sitting in a folding chair, along the road, fiddling away, to the sky, to the clouds, and to the birds, for the hell of it. The thought of it is enough to warm any cold soul.


  1. sounds like you do have some friends around there Jody - just not the kind who would come down for coffee and chitchat every morning! But still, friends...

  2. I know them, is all I could really say, and have done massive amounts of free labor for them, which dilutes any ability to figure out if they are really friends. I couldn't call and ask them to help out if I needed help and expect they'd help out. None of them would ever do anything with me, but if I stop by, they're friendly.

  3. yeah i guess thinking about it you have to go out to them - which actually doesn't make for a "friendship". I'm in a lousy mood thinking about having to report for jury duty tomorrow morning and so not wanting to!