Tall Tails in Fyfe Life

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the Fyfe Bee Gees, (aka the trio of trouble!)

I’ve been working on that whole ‘few versions of myself’ lately although the one I miss the most is the golfer.

Our local course closed in October and today’s little snow squall is just another reminder of what season it is. While it hasn’t been as cold as it could be for December we have had some cold snaps where it takes way longer to get dressed to go outside than it does in August. Heck, in the summer we just slide our feet into our sandals and away we go. This time of year you have to choose which jacket or coat to wear, and layer on a scarf with a toque and don’t forget the gloves!

And then its a question of which gloves to wear based on the activity you’re heading outside to do. Are we stacking or splitting wood? Are we driving into town? Are we getting more cat food out for the barn kitties? When you live on a ranch like we do you have to consider all of these things!

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Professor Higgins, asking Maurice and Andy to open the door.

I’ve been the pet Mummy- a role I absolutely cherish. Of course this time of year the outside cats submit their resumes for indoor status. Professor Higgins leaps up to the kitchen door (there are no stairs there yet) and sits there, pathetically meowing for us to let him in.

He has never been loose in the house with the ferrets but he has such a kind, sweet soul- I think they would all be fine.

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Higgy-in-the-house today

Higgins is no dummy. He worked me over easily enough and right now he is enjoying his second day of walk-about inside the house. So far so good. Babs and him made some noise the first time he was in and Sport had to pull the Siamese noise-making thing but hopefully his very large self will be a very large presence within the house at some point.

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Christmastown, 2019!

I’ve been a whimsical home owner lately- Alistair and I got Christmastown set up around Thanksgiving and it brings a huge smile to my face when I get it all going at night. Its the perfect little fantasy town for me- we have several ice rinks, an animal shelter, a pet portrait studio, grooming and boarding facilities, a brew pub and fun shopping places.

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All things animal-related in Christmastown!

Dogs and cats are all over the place as this is a very pet-friendly little community. The doggy daycare and portrait studio are brand new this year, along with a charming clock tower and barn house. The barn is next to the cozy little log cabin where I like to think Fyfe Life, Fantasy-version takes place.

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Fyfe Life in Christmastown?

The Me in this community gets to be a vet at the barn just like the Me in real life got to be a veterinarian again today, too. Well, veterinary surgeon to be more specific.

My good friend, Jessie, who was my veterinary assistant when I still had the clinic, stopped by this morning and Operation NutsBeGone commenced with the new stray cat, D’embe (formerly known as Lava), starring in the lead role.

(We are huge fans of The Blacklist and the character, D’embe on the show…. the name just seemed to better suit our little kitty who has hung around for a few weeks now.)

I had the drugs to knock him out although, admittedly, expiration dates were long past for one of them. I figured if he didn’t sedate appropriately then we’d just try again another day with new drugs. But he sedated beautifully and D’embe is neutered and vaccinated and currently in a crate in our heated garage as the drugs wear off. Special thanks to Dr.Kelly in Nevada for the excellent drug dosages for our cute little guy.

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Immediately post-op. He’s sitting up now.

I’m hopeful D’embe and Jockey can come to terms where they don’t whack at each other. Jockey was neutered as a kitten but he has always had a bit of toughness to him. While he can be sweet and adoring purring away in my arms I have heard him and D’embe get into it. D’embe started at least one of the altercations that I witnessed but I think Jockey came out on top of that one. Neither kitty has needed Clavamox yet but its here if we do.

I’m hoping the neutering will calm the little fella down. He isn’t aggressive towards Jockey or Higgins most of the time and they all eat and sleep together in the barn where I lock them up each night.

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“Look, Sport, just go tell Mum to open the door, okay?”

I have also been a writer again lately, which is where the ‘tall tales’ of the title comes from. (Well, I wrote ‘tail’, didn’t I? See what I did just there?)

My main goal for this winter is to complete the 4th book in my Missing Lake series. I am 42,000 words and 8 1/2 chapters in. I worry that I might have too much I want to include but then sometimes the characters take the book on a different journey than what I have planned in my head.

So many readers what the character, Josh to come back. But Josh can’t come back. He was never supposed to come back. His mom is in witness protection and they take that stuff seriously. When they left Missing Lake in book 2 that was supposed to be it and Luke had to learn that life sucks sometimes.

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Maurice helped me celebrate hitting 41,000 words the other day! Bonjour!

I have been thoroughly enjoying the writing again. Last winter I was learning all about life as a realtor and I had 3 transactions that kept me on my toes from September through January and then some more after that. I didn’t get into a writing rhythm, and, in the end, I’m glad I stopped the process. When I took the book up again this fall I re-wrote a few things and I’m really happy about the direction I’m going this time around.

It wasn’t that what I had written was wrong or that it wasn’t good. Its that the version of life in Missing Lake right now is that much better.

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My lap right now as I’m writing and also how I write my novels.

I’m certainly less distracted this time around and I feel more confidant not being at the real estate office from 9-5 almost every day. Those were my very first transactions last year, though, and I’m so glad I gave everything I could to get things to closing.

I don’t have any specific transactions on the go right now so that allows more time to socialize pets, set up sparkly, musical little fantasy holiday towns and invite my friends over to help me neuter a new cat on our freezer during a snow storm.

I’m also watching a friend at the NFR get bucked around on a bronc in Vegas and the figure skating Grand Prix Final. All these parts of being Me are fun but my reporting on the skating world will have to wait for another time. Professor Higgins wants to go back outside and D’embe won’t be too far behind. Now that he’s donated his reproductive organs at the door I will live up to my promise to keep him warm, loved and well-fed.

Now, which gloves and jacket are required for carrying a kitty down to the barn?

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Post-op. He’s up and chatting now.

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“Do you think I’m a bit cross-eyed, Mummy?”

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In honor of our old black lab companion, Casey. Always makes us smile!

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The ice rink where it all began and a gift shop (with its own Christmastown in the window) and the brew pub, complete with Santa flying around a Christmas tree. What’s not to love?

 

Timing

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Working “the floor” at the realty office the other day

I know I’ve talked about timing and the various stages of our lives we find ourselves in. I’ve talked about beginnings and endings and I have shared my thoughts on every step in-between.

And I’ve shared many endings and how I have the ability to be a part of choosing the when’s and how’s of these events. I have had the chance to say a couple more goodbyes for clients and their families recently and while it is never an easy thing to do, I always try to make sure it is absolutely the right thing to do.

I’ve been lucky to share some fun and wonderful and maybe even silly beginnings- like the 3 Bee Gee Fyfe ferrets who brought mayhem and shenanigans back to the Fyfe house just about one year ago. Barry, Maurice and Andy make us laugh on a daily basis and I’m so happy to make you a part of the sunrise of their lives with us!

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The boys… if only there was some way they could tell me where Alistair was…

(Because goofing off with ferrets is absolutely the right thing to do!)

A few friends have had the opportunity to visit and play with this current trio-of-trouble. They were fascinated with baby Paige’s clothing, car seat and other baby acoutrements when we let them out during our celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving. Auntie Merielle’s recent photo shoots with them and their girlfriend, Fallon captured their unique and mischievous personalities one and all. And Barry clearly forgets the No Bite rule when houseguests like Joel and Jeanette stop by.

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Professor Higgins hanging out by the campfire pit with Jockey

It has been great sharing Professor Higgins and his journey onto the Fyfe Farms in ND and eventually here in Montana. He continues to be a delightful, squeaky little friend who leaps into the air for a scritch on his forehead whenever he sees you.

And now we have yet another potential new beginning in the works.

An intact, very friendly black tomcat has been hanging around and it doesn’t look like he has any plans on leaving.

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Out front a couple of evenings ago

We have both been able to pick him up and cuddle with him and last night we allowed him a little bit of living room time with us (we blocked off the rest of the house so he wouldn’t terrorize Sport, Bebe or the ferrets.)

He is extremely affectionate with his purrs and kneading of his paws and seems to really appreciate the cat food we provide for him.

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Lava on the coffee table last night

We’ve named him Lava and so far he is getting along with Jockey and Higgins. We aren’t sure if Lava has made it to the open barn during the day but we haven’t locked him up inside at night with the boys yet. I’d like to get him neutered before we do that.

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Lava doesn’t have any trouble cuddling with us

Its funny to think that we were contemplating a time without any pets a couple of years ago. I’m fairly certain most people who know us shook their heads and rolled their eyes when I suggested a pet-less Fyfe Farm but we had a rough couple of years during Attrition and our hearts were sore.

While I doubt we’ll ever be back up to 5 dogs, 3 ferrets, 2 guinea pigs and 8+ cats again it is fun getting to know the new fur babies as their suns rise on our world bringing brightness and warmth to our lives.

But that’s where the thoughts of Timing come back into play.

Because I fear it is twilight for a couple of our special friends.

Or maybe its even getting close to sunset for one of them.

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Bebe, getting in a few zzz’s right now.

This is where our sweetie, Bebe is right now as I type.

Its not unusual for any Fyfe kitty to be curled up in one of their cat beds on the warm heated floors but she is doing it more in different places.

Like in UB’s old dog kennel in the garage where there are towels and a soft blankie and the concrete floors are heated there, too. It is almost as if she is choosing to be away from the hustle & bustle of our daily routines.

Bebe was never an interactive cat (most of our houseguests of old have never even met her… she had the distinction of being seen scrambling to get away from strangers as they cried out, “there she is!”) but that changed after we lost Boomer a few years ago.

Bebe became a chatty, personable, quirky little companion with a penchant for Greenies who liked cuddling on the couch and sunbeaming whenever she could.

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Babs, Sport and I during Couch Time this fall

But she isn’t as into Couch Time the last few nights and she has lost more weight and both of us think twilight is upon her. She also isn’t as into her canned food that we dutifully provide every night.

She did, however, jump up on the bed the last 2 mornings to visit and cuddle and she still wants her Greenies. Just not the chicken flavored ones. I’m giving those ones to Lava, Jockey and Higgins right now.

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Exactly how are those Greenies getting down here?

Bebe. Babs. Fabulous Babulous. Lutefisk Babs.

She is going on 17 years and I did find what I thought was a cancerous growth in her mouth a few months ago so none of this is surprising.

Upsetting and sad but not surprising.

And she is not suffering at all. Everyone reading this knows my rules on that. As long as we’re eating, drinking, peeing & pooping and enjoying our lives pain free then we are good to go.

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Cleopatra… also still good to go.

Like Cleo, who is also in the twilight of her life.

Cleopatra is at least 15 years old, which is her first problem.

The spaniel who ran throughout the mountains of Montana for most of her life with her Lab, Husky and Bostonocker Sperrier buddies has rear legs that don’t do what they’re supposed to do some of the time now.

Well, maybe much of the time.

She also has canine cognitive dysfunction which basically means she’s losing her marbles.

It is endearing but there might come a time this winter when life is too confusing for her or those back legs just decide to give out altogether.

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Snoozing in bed a couple of weeks ago

Right now I can get her onto and off of the bed and she generally sleeps all night long (being completely deaf helps with that.) She still loves her kibbles and sliced cheese and the “Rimmies” are gobbled up for their taste as well as their anti-inflammatory benefits. And her tail wags in big circles when she prances down the hallway with her Daddy in the morning.

Our Southern Belle will hopefully be able to get through to her Mummy if Doctor Mummy isn’t able to. I guess I’ve always been able to talk myself to it and through it but I’m not looking forward to any goodbyes at this point.

The tears in my eyes and on my cheeks are what we were trying to avoid when we talked about a pet-less world.

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the Bee Gees, fluffed and buffed post-shower a few weeks ago

But there is less happiness and laughter in a pet-less world, at least on the Fyfe Farm.

(Or, Fyfe Farm for Wayward Pets… as Lava’s presence is reminding us.)

And who am I to prioritize less crying and heartache over cuddling with a purring warm kitty cat on a cold night or spooning with Cleo or Sport in bed or trying to bathe wiggling, seemingly spine-less creatures with pointy noses and sharp canine teeth?

I have shared with many clients over the years the importance of realizing that you will probably outlive your pet when you enter into a new relationship. And that’s okay. Its part of the deal.

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My Nan and Miss Cleo several years ago at my Dog Days of Summer

So hopefully we can provide a prolonged twilight for our girls right now and continue to enjoy the sunrise of Lava (with a little snip-snip in the near future!)

And we’ll continue to make sure to provide everything we can for our furry little buddies.

As good as we can for as long as we can, right?

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Oh, Fabulous Babulous! I love this picture of her!

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“Dude, is this leather or ‘pleather’?”

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Professor Higgins coming in for head butts with Daddy this past spring

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I’m not even going to go here. He’s purring on my lap as I type…. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Cats (and Unwed Mothers)

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Professor Higgins

I have visited this theme before over the past few years of writing this blog.

In our 25 years together, Alistair and I have shared our homes with, cared for, and loved 22 cats.

22. Cats.

I would have fallen over in laughter if you would have told me, as a kid, that I would someday be a Crazy Cat Lady but there you  have it.

I can’t blame being a veterinarian for how we ended up with so many feline Fyfe companions. Oh, sure, our cross-eyed, lilac-point Siamese senior, Mae Mae was a euthanasia-turned-hyperthyroid surrender but the majority of our cat buddies have settled into Fyfe Life through a variety of other means.

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Pretty little Mae Mae

Koshka, our first cat, was placed on my lap by a very young Gareth and Whitney back in 1995 and thus began my new life as a cat lover. Malchek joined her by just showing up at our house in Watford City and suddenly we were a “multiple cat household.”

Friends would have litters and we’d take one or two (or the entire litter) because we always had farmland and with farmland you always have mice. Besides, when you’re feeding 3 or 4 cats, what’s one more?

Back to Canada with Koshka, Malchek, Oscar, Boomer & Garter in 1996, then back to North Dakota with Oscar, Boomer, Chorney & Cooper in 1997.

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Cooper, Boom-Boom and Oscar a few years ago

We always suspected that our farm in Bismarck was/is a great place for drop-off kitties. Scruffy and sassy young Mulder arrived there out of the blue, just like our little Tuxedo cat, Jinxie did.

Mamma Cat showed up complete with a belly full of kitties but she actually hung around for a year and produced a second belly full of kitties. We had kept the first ones but managed to re-home all but one of the second litter.

Sport was actually given to us by one of Alistair’s nurses as her new husband was allergic. HRH Sporto even got to move to Saskatoon with Cooper and me for my four years of vet school!

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Drs Cory, Pat, Nate and Tan with our co-editor, Sport working on an edition of the TOOL newsletter in Saskatoon in 2004

So it was that Oscar, Boomer, Chorney, Cooper, Mulder, Sport, Jinx, Bebe, Hissy Phitt Georgia and Mouse made the move to our house in Montana at the very beginning of 2007. Of those, Sport, at 19, and Bebe, at 16 remain. (2015 and 2016 were two tough years we renamed Attrition… it was hard on the canine, ferret and guinea pig populations on the Fyfe Farm, too. Grab a box of Kleenex and go through some old blogs from back then if you have a hankering for a good cry.)

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Mulder in Bismarck back in the day

While we were moving from one sad departure to another during Attrition, we both had the silly notion that we were going to be animal-less for a few years.

We would be free to travel at a moment’s notice!

Imagine the money we’d save!

No more heartache!

Until Alistair was in the hot tub in Bismarck one night talking with me on the phone when a fairly well-fed tabby cat waltzed up to the tub and proceeded to mew at him. He continued mewing post-hot tub and then sauntered on into the house without much coaxing soon afterwards.

We called veterinary clinics, shelters and neighbors but nobody knew whose friendly cat this was so a couple of weeks later, Professor Higgins joined us here in Montana.

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Professor Higgins and I in the barn this winter.

Higgins stays outside with Jockey for now. Seasoned Crazy Cat Ladies know that its unwise to introduce new cats who have all of their claws to the senior cats who are minus their foreclaws.

And Santa Alistair re-introduced ferrets into Fyfe Life but if you’ve followed along here or on Facebook you already know that.

What got me going on this today is the new stray that has been hanging around our farm in Bismarck this spring and summer.

We’ve caught magical glimpses of him/her that are becoming more and more prolonged as time goes on because we’ve been providing dry and moist cat food for him/her since the spring.

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Last week- lingering longer and longer.

Basically, we don’t see the cat. I say “we” because I was back there this summer and I did see her through the window of our front door but it was fleeting at best. Primarily its Alistair doing the ground work to try to tame this little lion.

So he tries to keep a bowl of Science Diet dry food topped up in the barn where the kitty lives and a smaller bowl up by the front steps here plus he adds a tin of soft food daily which is how he’s trying to coax the stranger up to him.

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Someone really wants this fresh tin of soft food but someone knows Alistair is immediately behind the door….

Weeks ago the cat would never have come up this close knowing full well that the biped who provides the food (and dings the plate every single time hoping beyond hope for the eventual Pavlovian response that all of the Fyfe cats develop thanks to said dinging) is right behind the door.

Sometimes Alistair sits out on the step with the fresh tin of food and kitty (he calls him, Whitey…. I was hoping for Billy, or Billie if its female… you know, The Stranger… anyone? anyone?) is down by the barn watching him. He/she used to just run off at the sight of anyone but he is lingering more and more in hopes the biped will buzz off and let him eat his yummy tinned food alone.

This one night, though, Whitey decided the food was more important than fear or mistrust so Alistair got the best picture we have of our new friend yet!

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Whitey Fyfe?

As much of a big step as this was, it was nothing compared to what Whitey did only a couple of mornings later. Alistair went outside after a rainy night and found a present from our little red & white friend.

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A present from Whitey

Hey. This means they’re in a relationship, Alistair and Whitey.

I mean it. Cats don’t give presents to just anybody.

Kind of like that line in Dances With Wolves….  “Good. Trade.”

So it is that we remain Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Cats and Unwed Mothers. Hopefully Whitey will try to trust Alistair more and more and hopefully he will keep working on limiting the rodent population that grew ever since all the other Fyfe felines moved to Montana.

It would be great if he is already altered, like Jinx and Professor Higgins were, but maybe he’s a scruffy tough guy like Mulder who hasn’t had much human care.

Regardless, he has a warm, dry barn to hang out in as long as he would like and we’ll keep making sure he has food.

And we’ll keep you all posted on the felines of the Fyfe farms along the way.

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Sporto a couple of nights ago

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Bebe, our resident Sunbeamer

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Jockey enjoying the winter sun… possibly a relative of Whitey’s?

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Babs and Sport on my lap a few nights ago.