I’ve been getting the indoor tortoise run ready. I’ve one fewer tortoise than I had, I’ve given one away to my gardener, Wince – or rather to his partner. She very much wanted one and I had three and frankly I don’t really want any of them, but I only want them to go to good homes and someone I know. They’re nice little things, but I’m not really a tortoise person.
But I’m conscientious, so I’ll search them out in the next day or two and bring them indoors, at least overnight, though I might put them out in the daytime. I haven’t seen much of them all summer, in fact. Their run has lots of tortoise-friendly weeds in there now, plus a few non-weeds (sedum and hebe) and so I haven’t fed them all that much. I weighed them a month or so ago and they’d all put on weight, so they obviously are eating.
The young cats – they’re a year and a half old so I can’t call them kittens – are all thriving. They all come to be fed twice a day. They are all quite different in how they behave towards me. Zain, the tabby, is very friendly and loves to be petted. Fred, one of the black boys, is not as confident but wants to be stroked, so will be brave if I’m careful and gentle. His identical brother, Barney, will now eat if I’m there and he won’t run away while I’m putting down his food, but he’s very wary and I’ve never touched him. Betty, the only girl, is somewhere in between. She will approach me but keep an arm’s length, but I have stroked her a few times if Zain is there. He’s certainly the leader. Friendliest of them all is the mother, Mehitabel Cat. She loves to be stroked and craves affection, but she sometimes goes off for weeks at a time. I hope that she has another home she has adopted, but I don’t know. She came yesterday, for the first time in a few weeks, and she was very hungry and quite bad-tempered with her offspring, though not with me. She started eating as soon as I put food down.
I now have twenty bantam girls, as one died of old age a week ago. I’m sorry to admit that I also have three cockerels. I’d had to have several culled and I just couldn’t face it any more. So I’ve put them in with the hens, knowing that there’s a risk that they will fall out and fight. I’ll deal with that if it happens, but I couldn’t cope with choosing their death. They don’t roam completely free any more, so there’s no risk of more chicks. Some of the girls are very old and I don’t mind the thought of bringing numbers down, over the next year or two, and gradually giving them up altogether – or maybe having just half a dozen, because I don’t really care for bought eggs any more. I suppose I’ve turned into an egg snob.
Eloise cat is, of course, perfect. She could tell you that herself.