As this is a holiday weekend, my good neighbors have gone camping with family; thus I am pet-sitting their cute little cat Smokey. Unfortunately I did Not think that Smokey was too-very-cute last evening when I found a dead thrasher on the porch. I love thrashers--such busy birds. But Smokey is not a thrill-killer. She feeds on her prey, so at least the bird did not die in vain.
Be warned. I'm about to get on my soapbox about something that seriously ticks me off:
Many people fail to realize that "hunting to feed" is trained activity. Any cat will hunt and kill for fun; but it does not know that the prey is food unless it has been taught by Mama Kitty. So for you idiots who think it's okay to dump your cat by the side of the road "because it will feed itself," I'm gonna tell you that you are Plainly Wrong. Even if Kitty makes a kill, it will Not recognize that it has caught food. Your former cat will very likely starve. And it will suffer. Horribly. Believe me, I know from experience; I quit counting after I had fed and cared for more than 50 dumped cats. It's cruel. If you can't find a home for a cat, taking the animal to the shelter to be gently euthanized is kinder, and it's what responsible, caring people do. It is what I have had to do sometimes with dumped cats, and I don't like it; it hurts my heart but I can't rescue every single one. You should also be aware that you can help prevent the problem: Don't let your animals have babies; get them spayed or neutered early to help prevent unwanted pets.
There. Had to say that. Walking away now.
What I intended to say was that the mosquitoes are absolutely horrific right now. There's standing water everywhere, and that's where skeeters breed. Not only is there a large pond (about 25 X 100 feet) in my front yard but my next door neighbor has a three-acre pond that runs the entire length of my property and beyond. Even though there are fish in both ponds, the mosquito larvae are out-pacing the fishes' ability to eat them all. And, of course, the fish can do nothing about the larvae in standing water--like the many, many puddles that form on the hard anoxic clay soil of my yard. Anything the size of a thimble can support a mosquito colony. Although the county mosquito truck went through the neighborhood spraying liberally the other evening, that does little to help when the house sits more than 500 feet back from the street; it's only good for trying to kill the mosquitoes that live in the deep ditches along the sides of the road.
This morning when I went to feed Smokey, I forgot to spray myself with Cutter. Now, normally I'm not too very bothered by mosquitoes because I'm vegetarian and that makes me not-as-tasty for skeeters.
Heads up, this is something else you may not want to know and might even be offended by:
You probably stink. Meat eaters smell different than Vegetarians. In fact, people who are very heavy meat eaters smell quite rank indeed. But you are likely unaware because you're used to it. Not too long ago, I spent half an hour talking to a friend who eats a very high proportion of meat. This is a perfectly clean person who has excellent grooming and who wouldn't dream of offending anyone but when I got home, I could smell the foul odor all over me even though we had not come into physical contact. I had to bathe and scrub to get the stink off. No one is ever gonna tell you about this but it's true. It's an oily bloody rancid smell that you won't notice yourself but the vegetarians in your life probably do. If you get lots of mosquitoes bothering you, consider what you're eating. Mosquitoes are drawn to the stench.
Getting off my soapbox again; apologies for over-sharing. Vegetarians generally don't tell you this stuff because we don't wanna be rude and also because we get tired of you telling us off for not joining you in the carnage--we know the skeeters are gonna go for you first. Tee hee.
Anyway, the mosquitoes this morning were more than a little hungry and they were even going after me in droves. I was nearly halfway through the five minute walk to my neighbors when they zoomed in on me ferociously and I didn't want to have to walk back home for repellant. What to do? I remembered that I had peppermint candy in my pocket. While it didn't solve the problem, it did help keep the mosquitoes away from most of my upper body. I just made sure to keep blowing peppermint-scented breath out of my mouth as often as I could. Mosquitoes don't like it. A nice little factoid to know.
The other thing I was I having a safety issue with was squirrels. Seriously. You don't think squirrels are dangerous? Well, I guess it's not so much the squirrels as it is the pinecones they drop. Here in South Mississippi, we've got various types of Southern Yellow Pine. And those trees tend to have HUGE pinecones. I am not kidding. Big.
After Hurricane Katrina, the Yankee insurance adjuster who came through here laughed when my mother told him that her nearly-new car had been destroyed by a pinecone. He was probably thinking of those cute little delicate larch cones or something. Anyway, he refused to believe us until we showed him the evidence. An unripe Loblolly pinecone that was nearly a foot long and that weighed several pounds had been blown through the rear window, and it left such a gaping hole that the car interior flooded and wrecked it.
Right now, the pinecones are similarly unopened and hard and heavy. The squirrels love to eat them that way but the cones are heavier than the squirrels. Trust me, you do Not wanna be under the tree when they drop one of those big things. The pinecones hit the ground with a bang, and if you're standing in the way you can be seriously injured. Wish I could recall precisely what my engineer stepfather told me but the general idea is that the heavier something is and the further it falls, the greater the damage it can inflict--something about mass and foot-pounds. Dangerous. I had a near miss this morning by the back fence. Scary. Fortunately, you can usually hear them breaking little branches as they come down and that can give you a second or two to try to get out of the way.
An unripe pinecone in a puddle in my back yard this morning; couldn't get a better shot because I was being attacked by about two dozen mosquitoes (not exaggerating) at the time:
- Forgive cats be being cats; they can't help it but you can help them by being a good human.
- Always keep peppermints in your pocket. And try not to go overboard with meat-eating.
- If you're anywhere near a Southern Yellow Pine in the middle of summer, mind your head and be ready to run.
Life is good.