Saturday, November 06, 2021



This is my foster kitty Ralph. His elderly owner was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer,  and he asked me to take in Ralph. Ralph and his human Dad were very closely bonded; Ralph has been very sad since arriving here, but the dark cloud over him is finally starting to lift a bit. Yesterday, for the first time since I got him several weeks ago, he started eating his food right away when I put it down in front of him. He had his first vet check last week and while he does have a heart murmur, he is otherwise healthy. He will be neutered December 3rd, and I hope to find him an amazing home. These are my favourite intakes... it is a privilege to be able to help people who are in palliative care or (moving to long-term care homes where they can't have a pet.) Being able to put someone's mind at ease by taking in their beloved cat and finding him or her a home is just so gratifying.

I think, however, that after I adopt out the cats I currently have, I will have to stop fostering altogether. Or I may take a long break and see how I feel. I absolutely love helping cats and spending time with them, but although most of the people I deal with are great, the ones that aren't are really wearing me down. I have literally never been so exhausted in my life, and if I'm not burned out now, I will be soon. I am going to think about other ways to help cats besides doing this. I have talked about quitting before, but I am honestly coming to the end of my rope. I don't want my health to start to suffer. I also want to have more time to devote to our own enormous collection of felines!

I find that with fostering/adopting/rescue, people are constantly testing your boundaries. I have strong boundaries after all these years, but it is nonetheless tiresome to have to reinforce them all the time. I would quite frankly rather be leading a quieter life with my animals and art.

As an introvert, I also find the constant stream of people coming to our farm utterly exhausting. I am not cut out to deal with people all day. I need lots of quiet time to myself to make art and write, and that is not happening at all right (the exception being this blog post!) Plus of course everyone wants to visit a farm, but some people don't consider that it's our home, and sometimes we don't want guests. I mean really, would you invite yourself over to someone's house? We had a neighbour showing up unannounced last week with his kids, wanting a tour! On a day when I already had construction going on AND a kids' birthday party happening. But people do that to us all the time. As it stands now, I am not getting enough rest and that really has to change. It's just incredibly difficult, as I find it so fulfilling being able to help cats in need. I think I need to find other ways to help them.

And of course, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the criminal we employed here for six years. He was finally charged with two counts of theft, one count of fraud, and one count of intimidation. He told the police he is completely innocent, which is a complete lie. He's actually just a sociopath. His girlfriend (my former hairdresser, ugh!)  enables him, and has already been sending her "flying monkeys" after me, to do some victim-blaming.  So everything gets recorded, with screenshots for the police file in case they persist in being complete *ssholes. The officer who has been working with us has been so great. This will take a long time to wend its way through the system, especially if it goes to trial, but I am so glad we reported him. Apparently he has been stealing from employers and clubs for years, but no one ever went to the police about it. He was fired, he was banned from a club, but he went on his merry way, ended up here, and completely betrayed our trust. It has honestly made me quite bitter. I hope to move past that soon, but it is hard to trust anyone right now. We are dealing with two awful human beings choosing to make the world worse, not better.

My days have just been a blur lately and I'm getting two old for this. But on a happier note, so far this year I have adopted out 38 cats, and taken in 43! I know that's a drop in the bucket given the issues we have around here with unwanted cats, but I am happy to have been able to help those cats. And my adopters are just such wonderful people. I had someone adopt a 5-month-old kitten named Richard this week. Richard will need considerable work to become more socialized as he was not handled enough by humans as a young kitten. But this woman was ready and willing to take him on. I appreciate all my adopters, but there is a special place in my heart for those that will take on a cat or kitten that is not "easy." 

Here are some of the beautiful kitties I have right now. Have a great weekend!

Dixie, 10 months old. She has already had a litter of kittens! :( Richard was hers.



Sarah - has a home lined up!

Wendy - still figuring out what to do with her. She is at best semi-feral. 5 months old

My life has changed so much since I started this blog in 2005. We'll see what comes next! Always an adventure...

Monday, March 29, 2021

"I don't know how you do it!"

"I don't know how you do it!"

I get that question a lot, regarding the times I have to euthanize a foster cat, or a precious pet of our own. I am a little bemused by the comment, and I don't really have a response for it. I don't have any superpowers for avoiding sadness and grief. It breaks my heart every time an animal needs to be put to sleep, but I am absolutely committed to being there for them right until the very end. When you work with as many animals as I do, loss is constant and inevitable, and you must find a way to deal with it without falling into depression. It's not easy for me, and honestly, I can't really tell you how I do it. I just do it because it needs to be done, because I want to do it, and because those animals need someone to make these decisions for them and to be there for them,  and I manage it without letting it (so far) break me. I love these animals, and it's not like I can shield myself from the pain their passing causes; I don't push away or ignore my sadness. Sometimes it washes over me like a tsunami, and sometimes it's like the last ripple from a pebble being thrown in a pond; just a quiet kind of sadness that you knew was going to roll over you. It's the hardest part of having pets (and fostering them): the time when you must accept that improvement is impossible, and acknowledge that the kindest thing to do is ease an animal's suffering through euthanasia.

And all the foster cats who have been euthanized while under my care, become, in my mind, my own cats. Ours is the last (and sometimes only!) home these beloved kitties had, and while I had dreams of bringing them every one of them back to health and adopting them out to loving homes, sometimes it ccould not be. So my euthanized fosters are forever mine, buried here in the woods at our farm. I loved them as much as I could while they were on this earth;  I loved them as much as I love my own pets; I love them still.

 This sweetheart is Bobby, an incredibly lovely cat who came here last July after his owner passed away. He was a big grey love-bug. Sadly, he developed liver failure, and despite the extraordinary care he received from my vet clinic staff, and my own efforts at tube-feeding him, he deteriorated to the point that we had to euthanize him. I cried many tears over this dear cat. My consolation is hoping that in some way, he has been reunited with his loving owner. Bobby came to me to me with his friends Harley and Mama when their owner went into hospice care.

The past year has been really difficult in terms of losing animals. I have had to euthanize three foster cats, plus a stray that had been hit by a car and was left with a pelvis shattered beyond repair. On top of that, we had to euthanize our sweet pony Esme, and then fewer than three weeks later, we found our most beloved cat Naomi lifeless in the bathroom. When I found Naomi stretched out on the floor, a dead weight behind the door,  I broke down and cried in a way I have not done since each of my parents passed. I did wonder that morning how I could bear to lose even one more cat. Then I had to euthanize my foster kitty Scarlett in February. Somehow, you just get through these things. I have to remind myself that the good outweighs the bad, and no one gets through life without suffering. 

This little kitten is Lucy. She had FIP and when her seizures became uncontrollable, I had to have her euthanized. She was just six months old and was perhaps the sweetest little kitten I have ever known. She was found in a ditch in poor shape. I nursed her back to health, only to find out she had FIP. I am grateful for the time I had with her.

Periwinkle was brought to me by my friend Liz, who runs another cat rescue. Periwinkle was very traumatized and frightened when she arrived here. She has been found injured and was kept in a dog cage for MONTHS before her "rescuer" finally contacted Liz. Her back end was covered in her own excrement, and she has urine scalding on her  legs. We got her cleaned up and feeling better, but a couple of vet visits in, we realized that Periwinkle actually had a fracture in her spine that meant she had little control over her bladder and bowels. There was just constant leakage going on. The kindest thing to do was to euthanize her.  The one thing I am grateful for is that my friends Katie and Joey took her in to foster for a while, and won her trust, allowing Periwinkle to know human love and kindness before she had to pass over. Periwinkle refused to trust me, but she sure loved Katie!

For me, being there at the end of an animal's life (or a human's, for that matter!) is a privilege and a blessing. To be in that quiet room, stroking an animal and expressing love as they pass over is, while sad and difficult, also very moving and special. For me, the most important thing is to let the animal know that they were so very loved.

Animals have done so much for me that I feel it is a gift to be able to do things for them, like be there in the final hours. I had a terrible childhood with a neglectful and emotionally abusive mother, but through all that, animals were always there for me. (In fact, my Mum was a huge animal lover and that was something she was able to impart on me. Her own childhood was worse than mine, and animals were her refuge too.) If things were bad, I could always talk to my dog, or cuddle my guinea pig, or laugh at my gerbils playing in their cage. My dogs and cats have always been the most excellent listeners! They don't judge, and they never lie. 

I've loved animals since I was very small and I will always do whatever I can to help them. It's not heroic or brave or selfless... it's just what I want to do. It's the thing that gives me, for the most part, joy, and that joy outweighs the inevitable but sadness that come with  rescuing animals in need. You can't always have a happy ending.

Scarlett, euthanized in February. My vet clinic staff fought long and hard to try to save this beautiful girl. She had a truly sh*t life on the streets before she came here. My friends Joey and Katie fostered her for a year before she came back to me for her final months. She had a horrible, intractable case of calicivirus that no treatment would overcome (and believe me, we tried absolutely everything!) At the end, her mouth and tongue were still covered in horrible ulcers, and she was constantly losing weight because eating was so painful and difficult. Yet despite her horrible discomfort, she was a sweet, loving cat who always had a purr going on. She loved being brushed and she was an excellent Bridgerton viewing companion! I am still working on clearing out the room we kept Scarlett in (calicivirus is highly contagious) because I can only do so much before I start to cry. We all wanted so much for her to live. She was just a young cat of around two years of age, and so beautiful.

I have a lot of admiration for vets and vet techs, who must routinely euthanize animals. They are giving a precious gift to those creatures, a gift of compassion and love. And I have seen more than one of my vets cry at a euthanasia, particularly with an animal they have worked with over a long period  of time. I am just in awe of their ability to release animals from their suffering in such a compassionate way. It is deeply moving to share tears with someone who has worked so hard with you to save a cat in need, only to have to put them to sleep. 

 Me and my Kwazii. He was an FIV+ street cat with a heart of gold. We brought him a long way, and we enjoyed some wonderful times together, but he developed intestinal lymphoma that eventually necessitated euthanasia. No one who met this amazing boy can forget him. Just a precious little bent-eared being with all the love in the world to give.

All to say, I don't know how I do it! (I don't know why I still have Valentine's chocolate left at Easter, either! LOL) I hate having to make the decision to end an animal's life. Even telling myself it is easing their suffering doesn't really help. I worry about doing it too soon, and I worry about doing it too late. It's just something that will always be hard to do. But I think the difficulty of it is made up for by the amazing fun I have caring for and being with these furry beings. They give so much love. Whatever I can give back to them, I will.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Finding time for art

 I constantly struggle with balance in my life... I tend to do the things that scream out at me for attention, not necessarily the things that are good for my soul. To that end, I have really been trying to make time for art and poetry (although lately I have been struggling with poems... I have a terrible writer's block at the moment. This too shall pass!)

I started painting in acrylics in 2018 after taking a fun pet portrait class at a local studio. I had previously done a lot of drawing with coloured pencil, and I used to love using water colours and chalk pastels. But I needed some practice with acrylic technique. 

I've been having a blast with it, and of course I love painting animals! As much as I adore coloured pencils, and building up layer upon layer, the acrylic painting go MUCH faster and I find I am a lot looser with them!

Our Maremma dog Monty

Cat portrait I did for the OSPCA's "Portraits for Paws" fundraiser

My barn helper Joseanne's lovely horse Cookie


Sweet senior girl Enya

What I really love about painting is that I get into that "flow" state where I don't even notice the passing of time. I am so absorbed by what I'm doing that two hours will fly by, and suddenly the cats are at my feet harassing me for supper. I always feel so much better after spending some time on my art. It's like when I ride my horse; I am always in the present moment, completely involved in doing something I love. (Well, sometimes I'm completely involved in a battle of wills with my horse, but you get the idea.)

Here's to spending more time painting and less time doing mindless chores! 
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 25, 2021


 I can't tell you how many times over the past year I have sat down to write a blog post, then walked away from the computer. The things I wanted to write about all seemed sad or whiney or complaint-riddled, and I know absolutely everyone is having a hard time during this pandemic. Why add to the misery? Gordon and I have been fortunate; although sadly G lost his cousin to Covid last March, touch wood we have both remained healthy, and my mother-in-law just received her second vaccine, which allows us to worry a bit less about her. We are financially solvent, and my barn helper Joseanne has been an absolutely godsend. She makes me smile every day. Things overall are going well, and we are managing to keep our heads up.

But the past 14 months have been hard here at the  farm. Many animals, foster and otherwise, have passed to Rainbow Bridge, and worst of all, in December we had to euthanize our beloved pony Esme. Then, fifteen days later, I woke up to find my heart kitty Naomi dead on our bathroom floor. (Still don't know why, but she had had some heart issues earlier in life and I think at age 12, her heart just gave out.) Every time I thought to write about these things, it was just too painful, and I walked away. It has all been too much.

To top it all off, just before the start of the pandemic, we found out that the person that had been working here for six years, my right-hand person, someone I thought cared about our animals, someone whose partner (my former hairdresser and someone I considered a friend!) had recommended to work here (knowing full well the truth about him)... well, that person turned out to be a thief, a fraudster, and a lying, lazy cheat. I shall call that person Bloodsucker.

I now have recurring nightmares about Bloodsucker, including a very bad one last night. I think that's what prompted me to write this today. I need to get it out ad I don't care anymore who knows about it. I need catharsis. Not a lot of people know what happened to us here. I really haven't wanted to spread it around. I know how foolish it makes us look to have allowed someone like Bloodsucker into our lives. We should both have known better. Gordon is a lawyer, for God's sake. He knows full well what criminals are like. I realize these manipulators know how to target their victims, and I get that, but I have been through enough in life that I usually am able to see through narcissists and sociopaths. Not this time.

I am now convinced I had a sociopath working alongside me for six years, which is absolutely horrifying. It makes me want to vomit. In fact, I have vomited over it. This person not only stole (and damaged) many, many things from the farm (including the spotting scope and tripod Gordon gave me for my 50th birthday, now gone forever), he routinely claimed hours he hadn't worked. He went to the local hardware store where we had given him signing authority to buy construction materials (AFTER he had worked her for a couple of years) and bought himself many goodies, including a circular saw, a parka, winter overalls, and perhaps most offensive, $2.50 worth of SNACKS on a Friday night. Going over a couple of years worth of receipts, we realized he had been going there two to three times a day, wasting time on our dime. Why buy a pack of screws when you can buy three screws on three separate trips and get paid for doing so? How could we have been so naïve? In my defence, that kind of gross dishonesty is so out of my mindset, it never even occurred to me it could be happening in my own proverbial backyard.

Of course, this is in part our fault for trusting too much and not insisting on matching receipts to invoices, which is what we did in the early days. But that's how sociopaths work.  Bloodsucker gained our trust over several years, then completely f*cked us over. It was so awful to discover all this. Neither of us can believe we  were so stupid, and of course looking back, we realize how many times we ignored gut feelings and warning signs. It has been a hard but important life lesson. I will never trust anyone like that again. I honestly don't want to trust any human being ever again.

Not only that, once we fired Bloodsucker, he presented us with an outrageous, fabricated $6800 bill that he could not back up with  hours and dates. We therefore refused to pay it. This bill included a $300 excavator fee for burying our foster cat Kwazii (actually buried with a hand shovel!), and another charge for burying a goat with an excavator that was in fact buried with our own tractor, something I witnessed with my own eyes. But I guess if you are making up an exorbitant fake bill, it can be hard to come up with realistic details. He actually admitted to us that although his last bill included $3000 worth of his hours, he had not worked all those hours. He actually ADMITTED that to Gordon, but still demanded the money!

And keep in mind, we are talking foster and rescue animals here. Bloodsucker basically screwed over a rescue farm for six years, on top of being paid a hourly amount that is so outrageous, I am ashamed to tell people what it was. He has also painted himself as the victim in this situation. Fortunately everything he stole from us came from our own bank account, not the rescue's. Still, I remain ashamed to have misplaced my trust so horrifically.

After he was canned, Bloodsucker started staging sit-ins at Gordon's office, until Gordon finally threw him out. (All this in a pandemic!) Then Bloodsucker's girlfriend came in one day, making demands and threats. She was threatening to smear US!  Gordon refused to see her, and she is now also banned from the office. She is a very pathetic woman propping up a truly evil man. I am as betrayed by her as I am by him. These two use people to their advantage, then throw them aside when they are done. And frankly, they aren't even very good at it. Like a lot of unintelligent people, they both think they are a whole lot smarter than they actually are. They don't even know enough to cover their tracks.

The day Bloodsucker came back to the farm to pick up his things after being canned, he was so angry, I ran to hide in the barn with my cat Emerson in my arms. Bloodsucker was so irate, I had flashbacks to my former spouse, and I could not stop shaking and crying. I called Gordon to come home immediately. Unfortunately, while I was hiding in the barn, Bloodsucker and his helper were busy stealing and trashing our things. We found tools (including power tools!) thrown in garbage cans, things broken, things missing. This is when my spotting scope disappeared. Sadly, it took me too long to notice it was gone, because it has been hidden upstairs in our granary under a sheet while renovations were going on (renos supposedly being done by Bloodsucker, when he deigned to work.) Later someone told me it was Bloodsucker's trade mark to trash a place after being let go. Too bad we didn't know that sooner.

It didn't stop there, though. After we let him Bloodsucker go (he was never anything more than an hourly contract worker), his hate campaign stepped up. He began calling my friends to see what I was saying about him (nothing!) He stopped people we knew and demanded to know what we were saying about him (nothing.) He tried to tell "his side of the story" to anyone and everyone, which of course painted him as the poor abused fellow and us as the callous con artists. (He actually called us con artists! Talk about projection!)

He stopped the guy who mows our lawn and started telling him lies about us until our guy said he didn't want to hear it. He sent "anonymous", threatening hate mail to our mailbox. Our beautiful farm sign was mysteriously egged for the first time in 14 years. 

When Gordon and I were walking down our road one day last summer with the dogs, Bloodsucker came up behind us in his truck, honking and accelerating and veering over the centre line to startle us. It was not long after this that we went to the police. The OPP have warned Bloodsucker to stay away from us while they investigate our complaint. Now when Gordon occasionally drives by Bloodsucker (small town, hard to avoid), Bloodsucker backs down the road in his truck in an exaggerated and dangerous manner. 

Unfortunately Bloodsucker is not one to let things go. He has been harassing his next-door neighbour for years over a fenceline dispute. The neighbour once called the police on him, and Gordon actually went over there  at the time to help Bloodsucker deal  with the police. That should have been our sign to cut and RUN. I heard so many stories over the years from Bloodsucker himself about people he hated and wanted revenge against. I think part of the reason we kept him on as long as we did was that we were afraid what would happen if we ever stopped requiring his services. Turns out our fears were justified. I know for a fact that Bloodsucker likes to go as close as possible to his neighbour's house and run his chainsaw just to be annoying, because the township ruled against Bloodsucker in the fenceline dispute. That's the level of ridiculousness we are contending with.

We have now spent $3000 on security cameras for the farm, and for the first time in my life, I thought maybe I WOULD like the own a gun for protection. That thought has now passed, in part because I would probably accidentally blow off my own foot if I had a gun.

I'm not sure what hurts more; knowing that I treated this criminal well and trusted him with my precious animals, only to discover he was screwing us over, or the fact that his girlfriend, someone I let cut my hair, someone I considered a friend and ally, saw us as an easy mark and sent Bloodsucker over here to work for us, knowing all about his criminal past and thieving ways. Of course it's only now that Bloodsucker is gone that everyone is coming to me with the stories about him, and her. I'm just in a world of hurt, although I am working hard at moving on. I just want the nightmares to subside. I don't know who I am angrier at: them, for using and abusing us, or me, for being kind to both of them for far too long. I will never be that stupid again.

I do believe in a sort of karma, in that you get tend to get out of life what you put into it. I know these two particular people are not happy. How could anyone like that be truly happy? My hope is that the OPP will at least lay some kind of theft/fraud charges, because Bloodsucker has gotten away with a lot of things in the past, and he is very cocky. He truly thinks he is smarter than everyone else. And no one has ever stepped up to stop him, short of one criminal charge when he was younger.

His evil then came to rest on us.

I am trying to move on from it all, knowing the outcome of the police investigation is pretty much out of my hands. I treasure my animals and get much joy from being with them. I still want to believe there are good people in the world, although those I trust are few and far between. I have been spending time writing poetry and painting and riding my horse. I am doing all I can to make sure I listen to my gut and keep these kinds of people out of my life in the first place. Really, it's all we can do now. Learn and move on. Be with the people who truly matter and have your back, as you have theirs.

On a happier note, I finally have a pet cow. I have wanted one forever, and it was in fact Bloodsucker who refused to accommodate a cow here, because he would not build a stall or fencing for one. That's how bad things got; he ended up dictating to us like he owned the place. It is so much better here now that he is one. It's like a dark presence is gone from the farm.

My cow is a Simmental named Eve who was given to us by Joseanne on Christmas Eve. She was born on November 24th and is simply a pet to be enjoyed here. I just happen to love cows. Eve was not suitable for Jo's uncle's breeding program, so she came to us. She is growing like a weed and is so fun to have around:

And here is my other reason to smile:

This is Hannah. She is about five months old now. I found her in a barn with her eyes crusted over. At one point, we thought she was going to need her left eye removed, but both eyes have recovered sufficiently that she can keep them, and she has vision in both. Like that wasn't bad enough, shortly after we got her, she fell off my desk and broke her rear leg! She has a pin inserted and has healed up great, as have her eyes. All she needs is an eye pressure check every three months to make sure she isn't developing glaucoma.

That cast is gone and she is running all around like a little kitten should!

Her eyes have improved quite a lot since this picture was taken!

Hannah  is fearless and she loves the dogs! She makes me laugh and I love her for it.

I hope you are all well and healthy and managing okay through these difficult times. Life will get back to normal eventually, whatever normal is. I try to keep that in mind. It is true that nothing lasts forever.

 I wish you well, and if you have read this far, thank you. I will try to get back to regular, happier posts. I have missed writing in my blog!