Post-Op Cats and Bobcats

It is now Monday, and I had my surgery on Thursday. Certain things are definitively better:

1. Sleeping

2. Getting in and out of bed

3. Bending my knee (I try to do 30 repetitions of bending and straightening the left knee each time I get back in bed after a jaunt around my cabin.)

4. My willingness to have my left foot touch the ground between steps.

When I am feeling positive and that there is hope I will one day walk normally again, I think about these improvements. When I’m feeling like a hopeless, injured lump, I think about the following things that have NOT gotten better:

1. Being sore ALL the time…if anything, I am more sore– unfair!

2. The effectiveness of the pain medication– at the beginning, one little pill and I would float out to sea on a lovely, cushioned raft. It did not take the pain away, so much as make me completely unconcerned about it…the following exchange happened several times the first couple of days post-pain pill: Richard: Is your knee still hurting? Me: (Carefree giggle) Oh, yes, it still hurts. (Carefree giggle followed by hearty chuckle) Now, one pill maybe allows me to stop clenching my jaw, but I can assure you there is no giggling of any kind going on!

3. Not being able to put weight on my left leg.

I do realize I am really lucky in this whole situation. Not only is Richard a very cute and faithful nurse, always refilling my ice packs and getting me water (his primary jobs), I have Chuylu (pronounced Choo-loo, named after a region of Kenya), my calico cat, who is the single best assistant nurse in the world. Isn’t her half-black, half-orange face the cutest thing?

Chuylu is a remarkable (and very weird) cat for many reasons. She chirps like a bird (seriously), so much so that her nickname is Chirples. She likes everyone in the room to watch her use the litter box– if people are in the room and not watching her, she will scratch the washing machine and howl until she has everyone’s attention. Once all eyes are on her, she will go about her business. She spontaneously erupts into machine-gun purring on a regular basis. She never, ever uses her claws or her teeth to communicate, but she will lick you until your skin is raw if you let her. She used to bring live mice into the bed as presents, but I think my hysterical tears were effective cross-species communicators because she eventually stopped that. This is where she has earned her title of best assistant nurse in the world: she, literally, never leaves the bed unless I do. (I am spending probably 21 hours a day in bed here!) When I do leave the bed, she follows me from room to room on my jaunts through the cabin, chirping at me the entire time, until I get back in bed. I have never known a cat to get less exercise than my little Chuylu. She is the one creature in our house that is absolutely elated by my injury. In fact, she has gotten so used to my new (non) routine of sloth, I really think her little kitten heart my break if I ever get better. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I suppose.

It still feels funny to have Richard doing the chores for me. Whenever he comes back to the house from minding the ranch, I always ask for an update about how the stallions are doing, or if the poultry and fowl liked the cucumber peelings I sent them. I miss seeing all the critters each day! Yesterday, he came running in at a strange time in the morning out of breath. I immediately knew something was off, and he told me he was running for the camera because Mango had treed a bobcat near the Homestead cabin. Mango had followed him to our house (looking proud as a peacock, I might add!), but I could tell it was not the best moment to ask what was keeping the bobcat in the tree, since Mango was clearly here with us. I guess Mango must have scared the pants off of that bobcat because it was still in the tree when Richard and Mango returned with the camera. Isn’t it amazing how camouflaged it is?

Richard also managed to find the home the bobcat had burrowed into the ground nearby:

The treeing of the bobcat gave me flashbacks, and not particularly pleasant ones. Last year when I was taking care of the ranch while Mel and Bayard were riding in Egypt, I encountered a bobcat on my very first morning. When I reached the sheep pen that fateful morning, I could sense that something was wrong. At that point in time, we had Barbados sheep, which are fairly wild (we now have the much friendlier Navajo Churro sheep). The Barbados sheep were pressed up against the gate, eager to see me, which was not their standard morning greeting. When I walked into their pen, they all ran behind me, which sent chills up my spine…I just knew they had been threatened or attacked. As they ran behind me, I looked for the two twin lambs that had been born, and I only saw one. My heart sank as I scanned the perimeter of the pen. All of a sudden my eyes locked with an enormous bobcat, who was eating the freshly killed lamb. I tried to shoo the cat away, first with my hands and then with a banging shovel, but he (in my mind it was definitely a HE, but who knows!) held my gaze and hissed at me. I teared up out of fear at that point! The bobcat had also seriously injured a larger sheep, who later died. Of course, I did not have the benefit of dogs the way Richard did. Mango, Kuma and Charra had all abandoned me before I even entered the sheep pen.

Terrified, I called Richard to ask for advice. He told me he would drive up that day with the horse trailer to take the sheep to the farm, where they would be safe from predators, which was a relief. He also suggested I bang a shovel against the fence to scare the bobcat away…I explained that I had already used a shovel and that it had resulted in a HISSING bobcat! Any better ideas? His suggestion: Bang Harder. I can tell you that was not the most pleased I have ever been with the man (put it this way– this year, I was armed!). I returned to the scene of the crime with the shovel and steely nerves. Banging my heart out and screaming like a possessed person, the bobcat hissed again (I almost dropped the shovel and ran, I must admit), but I narrowed my eyes and held my ground. Eventually the cheeky cat crawled slowly away. The predator expert from Wyoming Game and Fish came to the ranch to set up a trap, but we never caught the offending bobcat last year.

This year, the Navajo Churro sheep and Tardy, the llama, are back at the ranch, but they are protected by a fortress of electricity.We have a solar charger that keeps an electric fence surrounding their pen charged at all times. This is not the best photograph, but it gives you an idea of the layers of fencing and protection they have surrounding them:

They are safe from the bobcats this year!