gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Cat Sitting

20140702-101559-36959678.jpg
My name is Mrs Gillybirds and I am a cat person.
As the official owner of two dogs and three hens this may come as a surprise. I love cats. Really love them, but due to Mr G’s cat hair allergy we don’t have cats in the house.
I haven’t been owned by a cat in over 20 years.
So it is very exciting for me to be cat sitting for Miss Izzy and Miss Cookie whilst their lady takes a well deserved holiday.
And since I have opposing thumbs and the ability to open a pouch of cat food they are apparently just as excited to see me.
I had forgotten just how aloof and independent cats are. And how utterly silent.
In comparison if I leave the dogs at home even for ten minutes my return is greeted with a full parade of wagging tails, big doggy grins and loud barking.
When the back door handle is rattled the Gillybirds stop whatever they are doing and look up to see who is coming out and more importantly what treats they may be bringing.
But cats… Not so much.
As every good cat sitter knows, I spent some time last week in their home chatting with their lady about feeding, sleeping arrangements, waste disposal, and home security. (not wanting any cat burglars. Ha)
Cookie and Izzy have met me before, Izzy is a one woman cat, Cookie who is adopted, is more friendly and likes a head rub every now and again. She even let me pick her up, it’s amazing how little cats weigh, no wonder they move with such quietness and ease.
It’s much better to keep cats in their own home where their comforts are and things are familiar. So I’m calling round twice daily, for food and fellowship. Cookie is generally waiting for me, tail twitching, ready for breakfast. Izzy is more cautious, stealthily sneaking by when she thinks I’m not looking.
Izzy loves her lady so much she brings her love tokens on an almost daily basis, so I have a good check around for dead partially consumed wildlife which would not be a pleasant welcome home for anyone!
I chat away whilst they eat with such fastidious daintiness, today I even played the piano for them. Not sure how appreciated that was.
Hopefully we will get along just fine. And I can enjoy being a cat lady once more, provided I remove all traces of cat hair for fear of setting off allergies or alerting the dogs to the fact that for a short while I am reverting to my true self.

Advertisements
4 Comments »

Even the Canary Had a Ticket

20130820-191234.jpg
It may come as a surprise to learn that when Titanic sank beneath the cold North Atlantic waters on April 15, 1912, a pack of dogs were seen racing up and down the slanted deck.
As the luxury liner set off from Southampton to New York, along with passengers and crew there were at least 6 dogs, Jenny the Ship’s cat and her week old kittens, many rats, 4 roosters and hens, 30 cockerels and a yellow canary. Each animal required its own ticket, Elizabeth Ramel Nye paid 25 cents for the voyage as far as Cherbourg with her pet yellow canary.
The dogs were meant to be kept in kennels on F deck, and were given daily exercise on the appropriately named poop deck by a steward or bell boy. The first class passengers however appeared to have kept their dogs with them in their cabins, while the crew turned a blind eye to this behaviour. An impromptu dog show had been planned for the morning of April 15th, but by then most of the dogs and their owners had perished.

20130820-195022.jpg
Among the dog passengers recorded were – a King Charles Spaniel and an elderly Airedale Terrier, owned by William Carter, Chow-Chow, a chow chow owned by Harry Anderson, a champion French Bulldog called Gamin de Pycombe, owned by Robert W. Daniel, who had bought him in England for the very high price of £150 (£12,575 in 2012 prices), Kitty, another Airedale Terrier, owned by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a Pomeranian owned by Margaret Bechstein Hays, which she kept (probably surreptitiously) in her cabin, a dog owned by Elizabeth Rothschild, also kept in her cabin, a Pekingese called Sun Yat Sen, owned by Henry Sleeper Harper and his wife Myra, Frou-Frou, a Toy dog owned by Helen Bishop. The dog was allowed to stay in her cabin as the stewards considered it “too pretty” to put among the bigger dogs in the kennels. There may have been other dogs on board, but their names, like those of their owners, perished with them.
As the ship was sinking, three dogs were put into lifeboats along with their owners. Mrs Hayes Pomeranian, Mrs Harper’s Pekingese and Elizabeth Rothschild’s dog all survived the sinking.
Helen Bishop who herself survived told of how Frou-Frou tried to stop her leaving her cabin to go to the life boat by sinking his teeth into her dress and tearing a seam. “The loss of my little dog hurt me very much” she recalled, “I will never forget how he dragged on my clothes. I will never forget how he so wanted to accompany me”.
It is thought that as the ship was going down someone let the dogs out of their kennels, which would account for the sighting of dogs running along the decks, probably as afraid and bewildered as the many passengers and crew still on board. Yet as the ship sank, so many of the third class passengers were still locked behind gates, installed to prevent the feared transmission of the lower classes germs to the other passengers.
A few days after the sinking a recovery ship found the body of a woman still clutching a large shaggy dog. Robert W Daniel’s expensive pedigree bulldog was last seen swimming away from the stricken vessel. Mr Daniels received $750 compensation for the loss of his dog, William Carter $300 for his two dogs.
Ella Holmes White of New York was bringing the 4 hens and roosters back to American to strengthen her poultry stock. A first class passenger, Mrs White and her maid were in Lifeboat 8 as the ship sank, taking her hens with it. She received $201.87 in compensation.
Another irony here- surviving passengers did not receive a refund for their journey, nor did families of victims, only the wealthy who sued the White Star Line Shipping Company for compensation. In fact, relatives of crew members who died were actually charged money- the White Star Line wanted them to pay for parts of the uniforms that were ruined when people died wearing them.
Poultry livestock would have been brought onboard by immigrant passengers in Steerage, for whom their favourite egg-laying hens would be the only luxury they could take to the New World. The temperature of the icy Atlantic was -2°C, and any living thing in the water soon drowned or died of hypothermia or cardiac arrest.
As you can imagine a ship this size carried a considerable amount of food including 40,000 eggs ready to be cooked for breakfast or made into fancy desserts. Along the debris field at the bottom of the ocean a frying pan rusts away.
Today the youngest Gillyboy and I had an outing to the Titanic Exhibiton in our own city. Thankfully unlike so many people, dogs and hens, we survived our experience.

2 Comments »

That Roman Feline

20130801-195729.jpg

Another thing we noticed about Rome is the vast number of stray cats roaming freely among the tourists. In the tourist shops there are numerous postcards depicting dozing cats resting on famous monuments. At the Coliseum our guide pointed out the two “black panthers” who live among the ruins.
There are so many that in recent years the council has rounded them up for neutering to keep numbers under control. There is a famous cat sanctuary at Torre Argentina in Rome where they house, feed and treat some 250 strays within one of the oldest temples in the city. It is open seven days a week and run by cat loving volunteers who come from all over the world. Visitors are also welcome. we gave it miss ourselves as Mr Gillybirds is allergic but for some of my cat loving readers this would be a purrfect tourist destination.
For five Euro you can “adopt” one of these moggies. You receive a certificate bearing your cat’s name and a dedicated phone number to call to check on how many lives your chosen cat has left.
20130801-230855.jpg

1 Comment »

The Hero of the Day Award

20130411-163634.jpg
The weather has been sharply cold but dry and bright and the hens have enjoyed an hour or two every day free ranging round the garden.
Today was no exception although for the first time in weeks it is raining.
Anyway, the Gillybirds were being nosy peering in the kitchen door as homework was being done. Lucas the pup was peering curiously back through the glass back at them.
Suddenly he got up on his back legs, barking sharply and loudly. He is normally a very quiet wee doggy (compared the the over vocal Mr Buttons). We looked out and there was the ginger cat within two feet of our feathered ladies. They were staring at her, she was mesmerised by them.
I banged hard on the window, not wanting to open the door as adding an agitated puppy to the scene would not have helped matters.
So the feline stalker ran quickly away, the girls resumed their pecking around, Lucas basked in the glory of being a hero until he went counter-surfing and smashed a glass, and my heart eventually settled back into its natural rhythmn.

Leave a comment »

A Good Feline

20121113-192027.jpg

We’ve had a very splendid cat calling by recently enjoying fellowship with the Gillybirds. She likes to sit on the coop roof in the afternoon sun, and we managed to catch her on camera on Sunday. With all the kerfuffle of camera, children,and two dogs, she was off pretty quickly though! As with the dogs, the hens don’t seem to be at all bothered by her presence. She does look more curious than hungry.

20121113-192035.jpg

20121113-192040.jpg
The two “eyes” on the coop roof are solar lights. I bought them in a sale thinking they would guide me to the coop in the darker evenings. Sadly though even in the height of “summer” they have less light emitting energy than your average birthday candle.

20121113-192427.jpg
Colonel Saunders says”I thought I saw a puddy tat! I did, I did!”

Leave a comment »