|Bow enjoying a strawberry|
|Rue anemone growing in my woods|
I do patrol my land daily, and I take note of many things, like new flora that I have not noticed before. Did you know there are wild grape vines growing in my woods?
I will stop and take pictures of little bees as they enjoy the dandelions.
It is harmless voyeurism on my part.
But the majority of what goes on on my own property is not known to me, and that is just as it should be. Should I mourn the passing of every little sparrow? I am not cut out for that. Anyway, yesterday, late in the afternoon, I was chasing a colorful beetle, because I wanted to take its picture, but the beetle got away and it led me to the barn. I opened the door to the barn, and I forgot all about the beetle.
There, inside my daughter's old stroller, a tiny orange kitten was cowering.
As I tried to come in closer, to get a better look, it hissed at me. It was at once so tiny and helpless, yet so fierce. At first, I thought: "An abandoned kitten!" But then I realized it was probably not abandoned at all. Its mother was probably lurking just out of sight.
There is no way that a human being -- of the evil sort we imagine when we think of abandoned animals -- trekked all the way through my tick and flea infested pasture through the brambles and the briars in the dead of night when no one was looking just to very conveniently dump this kitten in the padded stroller in my barn. It is much more likely that a feral cat gave birth to the kitten on my property and chose the stroller for its safe place. And if I were to even so much as touch the kitten, the mother, who might be watching from the loft, would pounce on me.
I bought that stroller before my daughter was born, in preparation. We took it to Taiwan, where it proved to be way too broad to navigate the narrow, teeming streets without sidewalks. It was built for sturdy American notions of safety, but it was not practical for a country such as Taiwan. Nevertheless, it was the only stroller I had, so Sword used it for two years in Taiwan, and we brought it home to the United States where, in time, even Bow got to use it. Eventually, we didn't need it anymore, and it has been sitting vacant in the barn for many years until now, when another mother has found a use for it.
The animal rights activists think that being tame or wild is a genetic issue. The cat is a species that has been "domesticated". The chimpanzee is a wild species that has not been domesticated. But there are wild cats and tame chimpanzees, and it all depends on how they were raised. For intelligent species like cats and chimpanzees, it's nurture as well as nature, and culture is just as important as biology.
I'm not telling my daughter about the kitten in the barn, because she will want to adopt it. But as long as the kitten has a mother, I think I had best leave it to its mother's care. I put out a bowl of milk in the barn, not for the kitten who probably can't drink it, but for the mother who might like to know that I pose it no danger. As long as it stays in the vicinity of the barn and hunts for mice, I have no quarrel with the cat.