An Important Day

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Dear Gloria

img_4417You may have woken me up at 6am (it’s Saturday, that’s really quite rude) by clattering a ping pong ball around the kitchen floor.

You may have run your teeth along my foot when I tried to go back to sleep.

You may have initiated an affectionate head-butt, but then turned at the last minute and yelled, “Sucker!” whilst slapping me round the face.

img_4525You may have insisted on going outside despite the rain lashing down, and then come in dragging wet leaves and debris across the freshly-vacuumed carpet.

img_4536You may have sat in the middle of the floor with your fur stuck up on end, looking like a giant fluffy porcupine, swiping away any offers of a towel, preferring instead to wipe your wet fur along the soft furnishings.

But today is an important day for you, so I didn’t shout.

I cleaned out your litter tray, since you prefer to use it like a ball pit, albeit with white grit in place of coloured balls.

I cooked a big roast beef meal, not because you like beef, but because you like the crispy bits from the roast potatoes.

img_4551I tried to take some pictures. You refused to smile for the camera.  You refused to sit still for the camera. You hate my camera.

I bought you presents, which I then wrapped in catnip-infused paper.  I did the same with the card I made for you too. You ignored that and chewed the foil bow instead.  You went berserk when you saw your new toy, but then ignored it when I removed the packaging.

But this is an important day for you.  Today is your second birthday.

And what did you do in return?

You decided to indulge me in a touch of forensic anthropology – my favourite subject. You left 3 dead mouse carcasses scattered in the front garden: fly-infested, mangled corpses, carefully placed in full view of the garden path.  Your very own body farm.  I only hope it wasn’t a warning for the postman.

img_4543So Happy Birthday, you mischievous heap of fluff and mayhem.  Here’s to another year of sleeplessness, irritability and attitude… I’m talking about you, not me, sweet cheeks.  Hope you’ve enjoyed your day more than I have *mwah*

with much love from the Chief Human Staff Member xx

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All Change!

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It must be said: there is nothing more alarming than being woken by the sound of a cockerel crowing. In your lounge. Particularly when said cockerel is actually a 6 week old hen. Or so you thought.

Gloria and Daphne

“Is that a cat I see?” “Nope.”

Yes, the female dominance in our household was never destined to last. It appears that we have not one but two cockerels amongst our little flock of chickens. Beryl’s crowing took everyone by surprise. It was 6.45am on a Thursday morning when the serene silence was shattered by the most excruciating sound that could only be described as like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. Bedroom doors flew open and we all congregated, bleary-eyed, round the chicken cage.  Again we heard the dreadful noise that seemed to emanate from Beryl, albeit through her closed beak. To be honest, she looked quite shocked herself as she squirted out a runny turd. The rest of the chickens remained motionless, almost as if to say, “Well, this is awkward…”

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Is anyone awake yet?

Over the following few days, Beryl’s crowing increased with alarming intensity. She could be heard randomly from as early as 5.35am *groan* to as late as 8pm at night. Yet with night time temperatures falling to near zero, and the fact that the chucks were only a few weeks old, we had no choice but to keep them in the cage in the lounge. Even the chuffin cat’s initial interest turned to disgust and irritation. A couple of weeks previously, we had changed the brooder lamp bulb from a bright white to an infra-red variety. This had frustrated the chuffin cat, who realised that her chance of a quick poultry snack had now been replaced with ‘slow roast’ chicken – she never was that good with patience. Now her beauty sleep was being interrupted; after all, who wants their afternoon siesta ruined by a noisy pumped-up pile of feathers?

An Instagram follower kindly suggested that we cover the cage at night to keep it dark, which has worked brilliantly so far. Morning routines, of course, have had to be altered accordingly if anybody wants a lie in. It comes to something when you find yourself creeping round the lounge with the stealth of a ninja, just to avoid a slumbering cockerel. In fact, one morning I even resorted to shutting myself in a cupboard just to use the hairdryer. Yes, really. It was like a mini sauna in there by the time I’d finished.

With all this commotion, we realised that Beryl would need a more appropriate name. Beryl is indicative of a small, plump, pottering hen, not a loud, proud, crowing rooster. The name Clive was picked by son no 1, and agreed upon by all.

“Crapping Clive!” shouted son no 3 with glee.

You see, Clive has quite a party trick: he has mastered the art of the projectile turd, to such a degree that he can hit an object over 3 foot away! It might not impress many people, but the boys in our household regard that as a pretty impressive feat.

Hence Beryl has now become known as Crapping Clive, Sir Crapalot, or to give him his full title: Clive Von Craphousen. Clive is quite pleased with his new moniker and will happily come running when you call his name. Then again, he also comes to you when you call “Chicken Pie!”

So I mentioned 2 cockerels. Mavis has undergone something of a transformation: her looks changed very quickly from Justin Bieber to Crusty the Clown.

 

With a magnificent crest on her head and long powerful thighs, we could no longer deny the fact that Mavis was now to be called Marlon. A most flamboyant boy, he loves to dance around a small disco ball that I decided to hang in the cage as a boredom buster. This has earned him the title Marlon Fandango. It certainly suits him.

Marlon and Clive having a chat with Gloria

Marlon Fandango and Clive Von Craphousen hobnobbing with Gloria Chufflepuff

In other news, Joyce the Voice has been busy growing a beard. Daphne Dapplebum still likes to stare at the wall, not that she can see much through the profusion of feathers on her head. And Barbara is quickly becoming known as the brains of the flock – she was the first one to work out that flies make a tasty protein snack. Or maybe she was just copying the chuffin cat.

Yowzers!

Slow roast chicken?! Yowzers!

How To Take Down A Christmas Tree When You Have A Cat

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1  Remove the cat from the tree.

2  Unplug the fairy lights.

IMG_39003  Explain to the cat (for the umpteenth time) that the wiring on the fairy lights is not to be used as dental floss.

4. Unwrap the wiring from the cat’s teeth.

5. Fetch the bag for the baubles. Remove the cat from the bag.

IMG_32376.  Look for the baubles on the tree. Note that there aren’t many left. Observe how the top half of the tree is still decorated whilst the lower half is completely bald (save for the odd mangled, half-chewed chocolate wrapper). Glare at the cat who is nonchalantly polishing her claws underneath the tree.

7.  Remove the cat from the tree.

8.  Pluck a bauble off the tree.  Drop the bauble on the floor as the cat pounces at your hand.

9.  Retrieve a plaster and stick it on your bleeding finger.

IMG_313110.  Chase the cat who is chasing the bauble round the lounge.

11. Retrieve the bauble from the cat and place it in the bag.

12.  Remove the cat from the bag.

13.  Remove the cat from the tree.

14.  Collect the remaining baubles from the tree, repeating steps 7-13 until all the baubles are safely deposited in the bag.

15.   Nip to the chemist to stock up on plasters.

16.  Remove the cat from the tree.

17.  Take hold of the fairy lights and gently unwind them from the tree branches.

18.  Remove the fairy lights from the cat’s mouth.

19.  Remove the cat from the tree.

20.  Replace the plasters on your fingers.

IMG_311821.  Keep unwinding the fairy lights from the tree branches.

22.  Unwrap the fairy lights from the cat’s neck.

23.  Remove the cat’s claws from the wiring on the fairy lights and stick another plaster on your bleeding hands.

24.  Lay the lights across the floor as you remove them from the tree.

25.  Remove the cat from the tree.

26.  Remove the cat from the lights.

27.  Run round in circles as you try to wind the fairy lights into a ball before the cat can throttle herself again.

28.  Find the box for the lights. Remove the cat from the box and place the lights in it.

29.  Take the tree down one segment at a time and place each segment in a large bag. Place any broken branches in the bags too, with the intention of reattaching them next Christmas… knowing full well that you will never get round to reattaching them.

30.  Pour yourself a large drink and dress your wounds whilst watching the cat sulk in the corner.

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Gloria’s Twelve Days of Christmas

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What could be more trouble than a kitten at Christmas?
A 1 year old cat, that’s what.

This is to  be sung to the tune of the traditional song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’… no drummers drumming or pipers piping in our house that’s for sure!

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On the first day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
A chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

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On the second day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the third day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

20151231-172339-62619407.jpgOn the fourth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me

Five exasperated sighs….

Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

20151231-172038-62438522.jpgOn the seventh day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Seven puffed up pounces
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Eight battered baubles
Seven puffed up pounces
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

20151231-171443-62083715.jpgOn the ninth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Nine fractured fairy lights
Eight battered baubles
Seven puffed up pounces
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Ten stolen sweeties
Nine fractured fairy lights
Eight battered baubles
Seven puffed up pounces
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me20151231-172851-62931562.jpg
Eleven puked-up pine needles
Ten stolen sweeties
Nine fractured fairy lights
Eight battered baubles
Seven puffed up pounces
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Gloria gave to me
Twelve chomped-on chocolates
Eleven puked-up pine needles
Ten stolen sweeties
Nine fractured fairy lights
Eight battered baubles
Seven puffed up pounces
Six chewed candy canes
Five exasperated sighs…
Four paws a-boxing
Three broken branches
Two eyes madly staring
And a chuffin cat in the Christmas tree.
*****

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And that just about sums up our Christmas.

Gloria and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy and peaceful New Year.
But she’d like to keep the Christmas tree please.

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How to Introduce a Cat to a Chicken, Part 2

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Have you ever wondered if a highly-strung chicken and a naughty young cat could be friends?  Judging by my ‘Friend not Food’ post earlier, you would assume not.

014Doris has never been the brightest chicken in the coop. Throw her a grape and she often stands motionless, staring at you with her beak open, a vacant look in her eyes. The grape can land on the floor directly in front of her, and she will still be gazing up at you.

“It’s there, you daft ‘apeth!” you can exclaim, pointing to the ground.

Only then will Doris look down and gasp (in a chicken-like manner) “Well I’ll be blowed! How the chuffin ‘ell did it get there??”

“It bounced off your beak and landed there when I threw it to you!”  (She’s not called Dim Doris for nothing).

And the plump little hen will shake her head, give a little chuckle and attack the grape viciously. It’s a shame that she doesn’t show the same attack mode when Gloria Chufflepuff appears.

Being a fluffy ninja, Gloria just wants a sparring partner; someone to ambush and chase and slap.  Yet Doris just wants to eat. Therein lies the problem.

Whereas Doris used to dilly dally about in the garden when I called her to bring her back to the coop (much like an errant child: “Hang on a mo, I’ve just found a worm!”), she now scuttles furtively into the relative safety of her enclosure. However Gloria still persists in trying to play.  021Many a time recently I have been replenishing the chicken food in the coop, when I’ve heard a noise from above. As I’ve looked up, I’ve been showered in dirt and cobwebs (dusting the coop isn’t high on Doris’ list of priorities) – only to find a wide-eyed furry face beaming down at me through the coop roof saying, “Oooh look! A CHIKIN!”

I mean, stalking from above?  That’s a bit out of order. Don’t chickens have a right to privacy?  Imagine being slap bang in the middle of a dust bath and looking up to discover a voyeuristic cat ogling you! Shocking.

Once Gloria had mastered the coop-top spying manoeuvre, she decided to take things a step further. There was I, merrily poo-picking in the coop… well I say merrily… maybe I’ve exaggerated a bit there. 067Doris hopped outside, having found an interesting speck of nothingness to peck.  As I followed her out of the coop, I pulled the door closed behind me… and turned to discover a fluffy face looking back at me. Yes, the cat was sitting inside the chicken coop, and the chicken was gleefully stomping about outside in the garden!  Doris thought this was hilarious, and in an act of blatant bravado she kept waddling up and pecking the outside of the enclosure.  I had never seen Gloria so subdued, her whiskers twitching as she blinked her big, green eyes. It wasn’t easy trying to swap the occupants over, believe me.

008Several days later, I had an even bigger surprise: having been bent double whilst undertaking the coop cleaning chores, I stood upright to be confronted by Gloria nonchalantly sauntering out of the pop hole of the chicken house. She then sat at the top of the ramp and had a quick wash, before looking at me with an expression that said, “WHAT??”.  Clearly impressed with the sleeping quarters, she had decided to make herself at home.

We have now got to the point where Gloria accompanies me down to the chicken coop every day. I open the door, Doris waddles out and Gloria bounds in.  014017Sometimes they sit together in the coop, pointing and laughing at me as I clean.  At other times, they play leap frog or rugby with Doris’ yellow ball.  Of course outside the coop, on the grass, Gloria reverts back to her ninja training and Doris often has to dive for cover, clucking loudly in annoyance.

 

So there we have it: yes, a thick chicken and a cheeky cat can be friends. But only if they live together as room-mates in the chicken coop.  Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad – with so many cobwebs down there, Gloria could make excellent use of her beloved feather duster!

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Things We Have Learnt In Gloria’s First Year

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Balloon Peek-a-Boo!

 

We recently celebrated Gloria Chufflepuff’s very first birthday! To mark this major milestone, here is a list of 10 things that she has taught us.

 

Gloria's motto for the dayNo box too small1 No box is ever too small.

2 The recycling bin is an endless source of amusement, with items to chew, mangle and throw about the house, particularly at night.

3 The optimum time to indulge in a spot of feline karaoke is at 4.45am.

4 We will never have a bath alone. Nor use the toilet in peace. Showers may be communal at the very last minute.

5 No bed is out of bounds. Even a bed behind a closed door. Human beds are far more comfortable than a soft, fleecy cat bed. Hell, even a concrete floor is more comfortable than a purpose-made cat bed.

What do you mean it's not my birthday any more?!6 You may dance in your water bowl, but you should never drink from it.

7 Shedding fur is a technical business. The rule: only leave white fur on a dark surface, and dark fur on a light surface.

8 A food bowl can never be too full.

9 It is impossible to play ‘hide and seek’ with a chicken; they squawk unexpectedly at the most inopportune of moments. Even games of ‘tag’ are somewhat one-sided. The best game to play with a chicken is ‘leapfrog’ – if you get it wrong, they provide a wonderfully soft landing.

10 A feather duster can be used for many things including chewing, biting, ambushing, pummelling, ninja warrior practice and carrying around the house using only your mouth. It should most certainly never be used for housework.

A big smile for the camera

 

Teenage Travesties

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Teenage selfie!Recently an email unexpectedly landed with a thud in my inbox. The title made me raise an eyebrow: “Having tricky times now that Gloria is a teenager?

Tricky times? Seriously? Has the sender been secretly watching me through my front room window? Or maybe they’ve been reading this blog…Angel wings

The email merrily continued with the heading “Keeping your kitten in line“. Ha. Ha. Ha. Are you kidding me? Clearly these people have never met Gloria Chufflepuff. I have more success in keeping my 3 boys in line than I do this rambunctious explosion of fluff. Don’t let those ‘angel wing’ markings on her back fool you.

An endless supply of dental floss for GloriaShe may have a few bad habits…” You don’t say!  Are we talking about swinging from curtains, toppling scratching posts and pulling towels from rails to throw around the room? Or maybe partying in the litter tray at all hours of the night. Do we also include sitting in front of the television screen so that nobody can watch it? Half-eaten remains...with cat teeth marksOr eating freshly baked goods meant for a cake sale at school? Hmmm. What about wearing the standard lampshade as a hat and using the tassels as dental floss? Riiight.

Does she ignore you, hide or clash with other pets?” Tick, tick and, oh yes, tick. Although it’s not so much ignoring you as answering back. You see, Gloria just loves to have the last word, no matter what the debate. She is particularly gobby, albeit in a cute, cuddly way of course.
Not the best camouflage gear, but a great colour match for the eyes...Hiding? Are we talking about trying to camouflage herself by sitting in the recycling bin with a baked bean can wrapper on her head? That’s just one way to try and ambush an unsuspecting human. (There are many more, believe me…) I think the picture says it all, eh?
Clashing with other pets: maybe we should just head down to the chicken coop to answer that one. Or read my last blog post here:  Friend Not Food!

AttitudeMake the Rules” read the next heading. Oh do come on! Really? “Now is the time to nip any behavioural problems in the bud…” continued the email. I smiled in a self-satisfied way. You see, some progress has been made in this department.
Popping balloons and gagging on the soggy remains = tie balloons up high out of the reach of pole-vaulting cats.
Eating flowers and poisoning herself =  keep your house boring and drab by refusing all offers of cut flowers and house plants.
Turning on kitchen taps = turn off water supply to house. Oh no. Wait. That won’t do. Remove taps? No. Redesign kitchen? No! Oh.
Repeatedly trapping herself in bathroom at night = remove bathroom door. No! *sigh*
OK so maybe we haven’t made much progress on that either.

Let’s go back to the email. Next heading: “Manipulative Moggies“. Ah. Right. “Do you feel controlled by your cat?” Now you’re talking. I mean, how do you deal with a cat who sits in the middle of the kitchen floor shouting, “HAM!” each time you make a sandwich? The advice is usually to ignore such behaviour, yet how can you ignore an elite fluffy ninja who can give an ankle a friendly nip, climb up human legs using claws alone or somersault onto the kitchen worktop at lightning speed? Controlled by our cat? Tick.

The TeenagerSo there you have it. All boxes ticked on the email. Yes, we have definitely hit Gloria’s teenage years.

The action plan?

Absolutely nothing.