Before I started gardening I knew that spring was right around the corner at the first site of a robin. My mom and I had a contest to see who saw the first robin of the year. I always won, but in looking back, I'm pretty sure she let me win every year. That was just the way she was and I miss her for that and for so many other things too.
But on to spring. Now that I am gardening, the first sign of spring is the arrival of all the spring seed catalogs. This year they arrived just a few days after Christmas! They are already worn out from reading them from front to back several times. They get me started planning the next garden and help me ignore the cold winds, snow, sleet and rain and grey days of winter.
In other garden news, it has been an odd year for weather. We are still officially in a 'dry year' but rain and mud tend to fool us into thinking all is well. But in reality, we have no snow pack to slowly melt in the spring warm up. I wonder if the garlic will survive the wet weather. Will the cloves rot in the ground because there is no snow to protect them and 'let them sleep'? I don't know.... but will be finding out in just a couple of months. I also wonder what the Jerusalem Artichokes are doing. We planted them at the end of the season last fall as an alternative to potatoes that also offered a perennial option.
The strange weather has also caused some flooding in the barn that has never happened before. While the surface is thawed and muddy, the ground is really still frozen just a few inches from the surface. This prevents the rain from soaking in and it has to go somewhere, and this year it went into the barn. Things are under control but it is just one of those things that makes "farm life" more complicated in the winter.
The TNR program continues on with hardly any interruption. The start of the new year was met with about 35 cats waiting in line to be fixed, vaccinated and rereleased back into the colonies. Winter makes things more difficult for this program as we don't send them right back to their feral colonies. Our trapper (we need more trappers!!!) cares for them for about a week to make sure all is well with the females, and then takes them back to their colonies. The males undergo minor surgery but the spay procedure for the girls is major and they need more time to recover in a warm place before going back to their outside homes. While winter trapping requires adjustments to make sure the kitties are safe and healthy, we know that anyone we can get done prevents one more litter in the spring. The extra work and precautions are worth the extra effort.
We (Paws & Claws Society, Inc and Gemini Farm) look forward to continuing our kitty placement program with CATS in Ocean City, NJ and Kizzy's Place in Vineland, NJ. These two rescues have the same adoption criteria that we have and so far the partnership with them has found homes for seventeen kittens that had little hope of placement here. This program is always in need of local foster homes (Thank you Kristen R for volunteering to be a short-term foster home) and donations of gas cards. Every transport costs between $100-$150. Local donations have so far covered either all or much of the cost of every trip to NJ and we feel blessed by the generosity! Our next transport will be coming up the end of January and so far, will be for four kittens. Trips are dependent on space available at the rescues in NJ but if all goes well we anticipate a trip every month throughout the year.
The partnership between us and the NJ rescue groups helps us place kittens but it also indirectly helps local rescues. The kittens we send out of the area are not competing with kittens sitting in local shelters and rescues for homes. We will continue to search for other, out of area, rescues with the same adoption criteria to make sure that local kitties have more quality homes available to them. Of course, we do adopt locally if we are contacted since the rescues we work with take our kittens as space is available in their rescues. That means that some months they can only take a very small amount.
Time to get to the barn for morning chores. Remember, the best way to show you care is to spay or neuter your furry family member. Preventing the birth of unwanted kittens and puppies prevents future cruelty, insures that all animals looking for a home have a much better chance of finding that special family, and it shows that when you say you love animals that you are willing to take action to prove it.