In my area, a cat left outdoors is called a barn cat. One night we noticed a cat sneaking around, and the next thing we knew, a young cat was staying outside. She was little more than a kitten. Of course, we started feeding her.... just regular cat food. Over time, we did a good job. She started looking chubby.
It wasn't long until we discovered she'd had three kittens. I think they were born on April 1st. A birthdate I can remember.
Yes...they weren't exactly barn kittens, they were hollow tree kittens. Cookie, Otis and Barney.
Of course, I adored watching them grow. And little Cookie more than held her own with her two brothers.
(In the past, I have found unexpected feathers in the yard. I suppose it is all the hawks in the area.)
But, while I was sitting outside, watching the birds a week and a half ago, Cookie sped by me, in a straight line, heading for the woods. It was strange but I didn't really connect that something bad had happened. My husband went to investigate. Her two siblings were on point, and a copperhead was in their sights.
A lot of shouting ensued as my husband tried to get the other two kittens away —and hollow tree kittens are not trained to respond to commands.
I didn't know what to do. My husband directed me to get him a nearby shovel. This was a short shovel. Not one with a long handle. I did, and I saw my husband stabbing at the venomous snake, trying to keep the cats away. From my view, he was practically on top of it. Husbands don't respond to commands either.
He killed the snake.
By this time, Cookie had struggled back into the yard. Her eyes were shut, and she was quivering. She'd been bitten. She opened her eyes, and I was flooded with relief. It seemed she could still see. But she was terrified of us and everything else.
We tried to catch her. She ran into the woods again, half-hiding in the leaves.
A friend had taken a dog to the vet after the dog was bitten by the same type of snake, and another friend had been bitten himself. Anti-venom is usually given to people. But pets are more likely only to receive antibiotics on the bite site, and perhaps an over-the-counter-type allergy medication.
And I said a prayer for her. Copperhead bites are not usually fatal to humans, but...she was not even five months old. And the snake wasn't far from where I'd been sitting. She could have saved me from having a venomous bite.
The next morning, my husband took food outside. Little Cookie popped out of the woods. One part of her face was slightly swollen, and she ate like the little champion she is.
My guess is that the snake only got her with didn't release a full dose of venom. We could fang because we could see one mark just below the ear and the swelling was around that area. She appears to be completely over it now.
Barn cats may keep mice away, but tree stump kittens are my favorite.
I can't believe I complained about my husband feeding the kittens tuna along with their favorite cat food.
And when my husband said he forgot to buy more canned cat food, and would be going back out for it, I said, "Can't you give them tuna?" Luckily, he remembered the sardines I asked him to get for them.
A few things I did right on my second trip to Yellowstone.
For me, it was the adventure of a lifetime.
But I must admit, the first time I went in 2022, it was nice, but it didn't work out well. I had very little information because the trip started when I heard myself telling someone I was going to go to Yellowstone, and I had no idea those words were about to leave my mouth. Then, I heard about someone else having an adventure and I decided I should try to make my goal of going to Yellowstone come true. A short time later...about the time it took to text a friend and ask if she wanted to go with me, I was thinking seriously about the trip. I looked up flights and soon was booking airline tickets.
The first visit was more of a chance to dip my toes into the river (which is legal and safe at the location where I stopped.) I planned to get reservations for a hotel and a rental car and let my whims guide me.
That didn't exactly work out as expected.
The park had flooding and I wasn't sure what to do. I had been planning to go in through the North Entrance—which was closed.
I travelled around the upper edge of the park after driving that direction on a whim...and went in through the West Entrance for a few hours. I was fortunate that I found my hotel again, and that the allergies which went mountain-high at the dinosaur museum (in Bozeman) waned soon after I left, that the hail didn't damage the vehicle, and that I wasn't involved in the horrific dust storm... I could go on...
It was one of those vacations that I was thankful didn't involve paramedics. I kid you not. The number of near misses made it a vacation I don't expect to forget.
Yet the hot springs fascinated me, and I wanted to go back, even though a foot in a shoe had been found in the park a few days after I left.
The second visit was much more of a vacation and less of a survival experience.
Hot springs. Animals. Waterfalls. Photo opportunities at almost every turn, and not the kind that end up on the Tourons of Yellowstone posts.
Yellowstone isn't a theme park. It's perhaps the best of nature, and it can be the worst of it. And it is hard to remember common sense when a grizzly is in front of you. Or when you're seeing a landscape beyond anything you've ever seen before.
So glad I took a second look and was able to experience Yellowstone.
Part of the antler arches in Jackson, Wyoming and Moose Falls in Yellowstone.
What I did wrong and think I would do differently if I were to return...
FYI: I used a long lens for the photos. But for many pictures a cell phone will work just fine...or even better than a camera. But remember, if you upset the animals or fall into a thermal pool, you might not get a chance to repeat the experience.
Be safe, and keep the wildlife happy!
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