I grew up on this land in Iowa. Full of rolling hills that are every color of green. My mom still lives on the farm, and I used to run on this very lane around our house and down to the barn, my playhouse that I created, and that the animals shared with me. Some not very willingly.
This Post will tell you that story . It’s not there anymore. Just like my Dad’s shop and the corn crib that I hung out in quite a bit.
But it’s home. And my Mom still manages the land quite well. Family farms it, and she oversees all the decisions that come with that. Back in the day, Mom and Dad, and my 3 older sisters braved everything from blizzards to intense heat to care for cows that were calving, or pigs that needed their pens mucked out. When my Dad died, all the livestock was sold.
The only animals left now are a special group of wildlife that for some crazy reason loves to hang out at the farm.
I’ll get to them in a second.
Pretty Kitty is Mom’s cat that she begrudgingly decided to keep after it showed up quite a few years back. I’m pretty sure he’s a boy. But he remains Pretty Kitty. And doesn’t seem to mind.
He’s the Outdoor Cat that sometimes gets Indoor privileges. He has a food bowl on the deck that is usually filled with kitty food.
But on any given evening, you could find bread crusts, leftover egg yolk, coffee cake that’s lived in Mom’s cupboard one day too long, or the milk that she buys even though she hates milk; even though she has no cereal eaters left in the house.
My kids love going to Grandma’s house for so many reasons, I can’t even begin to tell you. One of those reasons involves her attitude about food. Nothing is ever wasted. There are animals who will enjoy what you didn’t save room for.
At Grandma’s, there’s no need to hide your broccoli under your plate. If you leave food uneaten, she will happily instruct you to:
Throw it out back! The birds will LOVE that!
And they do.
My mom attracts the most amazing birds with brilliant colors to her yard.
But, that’s not all she attracts.
Over the years, she’s complained about possums, porcupines, something that looked kind of like a mole, and mice.
She doesn’t seem to get the connection between all her pig slopping food, and the creatures that come to dine on it. She’s like Glenda the Good Witch meets Hansel and Gretel.
Today, she related a story, that had my whole family rolling. And I just had to write it down so that I won’t ever forget.
Mom was doing some work outside, and came up to the deck to find a large, bushy-tailed skunk eating out of the Pretty Kitty’s bowl.
Oh my! were her words of surprise.
The skunk was startled, and began ambling away.
In that moment, Mom felt sorry for the old fellow. And before thinking, she goes on to say,
But it’s ok. It’s fine. You can stay.
The skunk looks back, and as if seeming to understand my Mother’s sentiment, goes back to the bowl and resumes eating.
Later, Mom gets distracted with something else in the house, and opens the door that leads out to the deck, and Kitty’s food bowl. As Mom recalls it, I’ll be darned! she mutters as she realized the skunk is still taking his time, enjoying his unexpected feast.
He starts to leave.
Mom begins talking to him, in the same voice she uses with small children. She tells him that he can stay. What’s it going to hurt. He just needs to leave Pretty Kitty be.
Dear readers, I swear to you on all the cans of diet coke in the world, that skunk just sat back down and stayed a spell.
And something about that just makes me happy.
Our farm used to be home to many animals long ago. I guess I love that it still is.