The newest member of the Kitten Caboodle Club


This is the face she makes when I ask “Should we go see the kitties?”


This is the face the kitties make when they hear us coming downstairs.


I think there’s panic there as they hear the high-pitched squeals and the pitter patter of a one-year-old running down the hall and flopping her body down on the floor to get a good look at them under the bed.


And, well, this is how the rest of it goes.

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Notice dad’s hand working to contain the excitement.



I should really video it to give you the full effect these tiny fur balls have on my tiny bundle of energy.  But I’m usually too busy working on protecting them from that same enthusiasm and I don’t want to be distracted.
Oh, there’s nothing like having a pile of fur babies around the ranch. I’ve had a few people comment, asking why we don’t get our cats fixed out here, and the answer has to do with the fact that we live on a ranch and every animal, even our pets, serves a helpful purpose. (These days Brown Dog’s happens to be to keep us company and our arms and backs strong from lifting him in and out of the pickup.)

Anyway, simply put, farms and ranches have mice and we need cats to help us remedy that situation.

The laws and truths of nature aren’t pretty sometimes.

But these kitties are.



The other reason is that we haven’t had a stray tom cat lurking around this place for years so we haven’t had to practice cat birth control lately. These kittens were the first batch we’ve had out here for a long time, a sweet little winter surprise, and lucky too, because they got to be born in the house instead of in the barn.

Soon a few of them will be ready to go to some of our friends’ homes who are looking for pets and pest helpers and we’ll keep the rest to help us keep this place varmint free.

And there will be plenty of snuggling to go around.


This is a story I’ve told before, but when I was growing up, my cousins and I would go to the farm to visit gramma in the spring and summer and spend our days hunting around the farmstead for the newest batch of kittens. We got good at knowing the usual locations–a stack of hay bales, in the hole of an old tire, inside the old threshing machine–and we were so serious about our efforts we named ourselves “The Kitten Caboodle Club.”

We even made uniforms (a.k.a we puffy painted gramma’s old t-shirts).


So it looks like Edie is the newest member of the KCC and I think she might be a natural. All we need now is some puffy paint.

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Peace, Love and Whiskers,


Parenting on the Prairie

Good Wednesday to you all!

Just thought I’d take a little break from the frantic pace I try to achieve in my attempt to get a week’s worth of work done in the two days that Edie’s at daycare to share a couple parenting related pieces of news.

#1 Our Crazy Cat Had Kittens


Yeah. Pixie, my husband’s pixiebob cat, turned the new carpet under the bed in the basement bedroom into a maternity ward yesterday while I was out and I came home to find her nursing four squeaky, stripey, adorable kittens.

I discovered her situation early last week when she was staring at us through the glass door on the deck. I went out to give her a scratch and, well, there was no denying the cat was knocked up.

So we let her in to watch her and make sure everything went smoothly.

And the cat was thrilled.

Turned out the little person living here didn’t share her sentiment. Because while Edie loves the kitty when she’s outside, passing her by for a point and pat on her way from the car, she isn’t so keen on another creature sitting on her mom or dad’s lap or brushing by her chair. I mean, clearly the cat should know better, it has her name embroidered on it for gawd sake.

Nope. If that cat gets anywhere near that chair Edie makes a beeline from across the room to show her who’s boss.

And on Sunday, when the cat dared climb up to share my lap with Edie, I watched my sweet innocent baby stare straight ahead to divert my attention so that I wouldn’t notice her little hand reaching over to try and pinch that cat’s paw.

So now we know my kid has a jealous bone and it’s not just reserved for humans.

And now we have four more cats to help teach her a lesson about sharing.

I’ll keep you posted. And also, let me know if you want to add a stripy kitten to your family. (Warning: they are a tiny part bobcat)

#2 I’ve Been Editing a Parenting Publication

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but since September I’ve been working as the editor of a Western North Dakota based parenting publication. It’s been a fun little project that has been unfolding pretty nicely and has been available as a free publication for readers to pick up in Western North Dakota. But we’ve recently made it available online and have a nice new website to go with it, so now you can read it too if you’d like!

Every issue I write a little “From the Editor” piece about what I’m learning on this new parenting journey and then my great set of writers tackle a variety of issue from staying healthy to where to get cute clothes and everything else that’s on the minds of parents out here on the prairie.


This month’s issue is about love and there’s a really cute section called “Kids Talk” where I go out and ask kids really important questions, like what are they thankful for and how they think Santa gets to all the houses all in one night.

This month they tell me what love means to them and it’s adorable. You can read their answers here:


If you’re interested, you can follow Prairie Parent on Facebook to get the latest updates.

But I’ll keep (most of) the kitten and Edie stories right here where they belong.

Well, it’s curling night tonight, so I better start stretching now!

Peace, love  and the glory of motherhood,


Sunday Column: Mouse catcher, cow chaser, heart breaker…

Well, it’s all about the pets these days around the ranch. Just in time for the snow to fall we have a couple more furry friends to help keep us hunkered down and warm.

I tell ya, between keeping the tiny kitten inside, alive and well fed and working to prevent the puppy from destroying my boot collection and all of the rugs in the house, it turns out Big Brown Dog, the easy one, the established member of the family, just wasn’t having the takeover.

Seemed like he needed to create a way to be noticed…

So last week he went out for a run around the ranch, checking things out, making sure there weren’t any giant sticks or random animal bones he missed dragging into the yard. He needed to get away you know. The damn puppy was driving him crazy with his crying and jumping, and nipping at his nose.

He’s too old for this.

So he took a hike to clear his mind. He needed his space. He needed to follow his nose…

Dog in Night

Turns out his nose led him straight into some sort of trouble, because Big Brown Dog showed up back home after dark with one of his top canines poking through his lip.

And a scrape on his foot.

And on his face.

“What the hell did you get into you poor, sweet animal?” I asked him as I kneeled down by his bed in the garage.

He just looked at me with those sad brown eyes and said nothing, because no matter how I wish they could, they can’t talk.

I called Husband out and he scratched his head, and the dog’s head, and we wondered together there looking at him what sort of adventure didn’t quite turn out as our dog had planned…

So the next morning I hoisted the stiff, sore, pathetic, sweet 110 pound dog into the back of my car (front feet first, then the back end) and we drove to the vet where they fussed over him, put him under, did a few X-rays, put the lip back in place, stitched up the hole, pumped him full of meds, prescribed enough pills to sedate an elephant, and $430 later they sent us on our way.

But not before he took the world’s longest pee outside the clinic…I mean, it was like 45 minutes…at least three patients came and went before he was done…

And then I loaded him up (front feet first and then the back end) into the car and back to the ranch where he struggled up the steps to his spot by my side of the bed and slept the bad memories away.

Poor Hondo. Always a lover…never a fighter…

8 years ago, a month after Husband and I were married, we took a trip to a farm about 70 miles from the ranch and my new Husband picked out Hondo from a litter of squirrelly, wiggly, chubby, adorable brown pups. He picked the one that seemed the most even tempered. He picked the darkest chocolate one he could find. He picked the biggest. He picked the best.

I paid $200 for that dog. He was Husband’s birthday present. He was going to be his bird dog. His hunting dog. He was the third member of our family and he’s been quite the companion, the steady link, the wagging tail when we got home.

Hondo the lab as a puppy...awwwww

Hondo the puppy…awwwww

And he’s gonna be just fine. Right now he’s under the heat lamp on his bed next to the new puppy who is likely trying his damnedest to get the big guy to play with him.

I know from experience the softie will warm up to the pup, just have to let him heal up…and let the pup grow up.

And then the two of them will be off getting into their own kind of trouble out here together.


I wrote this week’s column before Hondo went off and got himself buggered up, but he proved my point anyway. That these animals out here are part of the fabric of this place. Growing up out here as a kid, these dogs and horses and goats and cats and lizards we were charged with learning from and taking care of were what made the place magical.

But beyond their magic they served a purpose. They had a job to do.

Hondo’s job these days might be less bird-hunting and more companion, but the new members we’re growing up and introducing will have their place soon…

Mouse catcher.


Cow chaser.

IMG_8972Heart breaker.

Rain on a Dog's Nose Coming Home: Learning many lessons from animals
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

But for the next few days the big brown dog and I have a date in the morning for three pills stuffed in summer sausage and another in the evening before bed.

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To be a cat…

To flinch, to twitch, to leap and play
To catch a string as it’s pulled away
To tweak
To flip
To scat

To be a cat

Ears permanently perked straight up
A tail that sweeps, sleek legs that strut
Rough tongues
they lick
and lap

To be a cat

Striped and plain, spotted, plaid
Mischievous, obnoxious, bad

To be a cat

Shadow lurking, eyes that glare
Curtain hanging way up there
and smart
and way too fast

to catch them in the act

Oh to be a purring, overbearing,
whisker tickling, bare feet licking,
curiously lovely,
oh so cuddly,



Thank you to Jingle at Promising Poets Parking Lot for giving “until we’re warm again” the Perfect Poet Award last week. Thank you for creating a warm supportive  space for poets!

As part of the award acceptance, I would like to nominate another poet Lynnaima who has submitted her poem about words titled “The Best There Is” to the Promising Poets Parking Lot.

Onward poetry!


Heaven help the cat farmer…

Ok, so I realize I am running a major risk of turning into one of those ladies….

But last night, after I had so clearly declared my feelings about the state of the cats in my life and posted it with authority and a couple necessary exclamation points for the world to see, feeling pretty free and right with the world and where I stand as far as cats are concerned, I headed out to the barn to practice taking pictures with my shiny, new fancy nancy, big girl camera.

I was glowing. This machine could quite possibly be the single most beautiful thing I have ever owned (besides the pug of course, but I don’t own him….no, that’s a free spirit there…free as the wind…and I’m pretty sure he owns me).  Ok, the camera…yes, it’s more complicated than any woman I know. With more bells and whistles and mysterious features, not only is this contraption equipped to capture some undoubtedly precious moments, I am pretty sure, if I find the right button, it could very well send me back in time, or at least to the moon or something.  Yes, my life is sure to be transformed with this little piece of magic…or, you know, allow me to capture an image in lowlight for starters.

Anyway, I was out gallivanting around, looking at the world from the other side of a lens that really, I’m not sure I’m worthy of owning. And as I was taking pictures of the inside of the barn, reveling in how beautiful old things can become when you spend enough money to be able to see them in high resolution (as opposed to the resolution of real life, which, as it turns out, sometimes doesn’t seem to compare…especially if you don’t wear the glasses you were prescribed), I heard it…

The lab, who had been hot on the trail of a mole or something heard it….

The pug,? Yes, of course the pug heard it…


Faint at first, I ignored it, certain it had to be the crazy cat from the house following me again. Cats take a while to learn a lesson.

I continued my quest for a Nobel Peace Prize winning photograph…


Shrill, high pitched, panicky…

Ok, that’s not the noise of a creature I feed from a bowl.

But look at that magnificent spider web and those old horseshoes…



This is a plea for help. This is the sound of a creature that needs rescuing—this means business. And no doubt another house guest.

So, as you can imagine, even though I didn’t get around to making the pug the cape I promised him, the super-dog was all over this investigation.

Just call him the Cat Whisperer. Actually, I think his first book is scheduled for release this winter.


It just couldn’t be ignored so off we went, the pug gallantly leaped through the window of the barn and landed nose to the ground toward the pathetic squeaks. And the lab, not to miss a good hunt, squeezed all 105 pounds of him right behind.

Well of course I couldn’t be left out, and going around to the door and out to the source of the “mews” would waste precious time, so I squeezed through too….you know, all of me…somehow…

Anyway, after the nose of the lab and the nose of the pug took them screaming through the barnyard, weaving in and out of the hay bales, very dramatically collecting burs and kicking up birds, I took two steps and looked down at my feet to discover what I had expected:

A tiny, fluffy, noisy, pathetic, desperately adorable, fit in the palm of my hand, kitten searching high and low for her momma, you know, in an old tire.

Oh, I’m no momma, and I couldn’t find one around anywhere, especially not in the tire, so, well you know what happened next.

I mean, how could you leave something like this out alone in the world?

Not possible.

So I swept her up and pulled her close to my face and said a few things like:

“Oh, hewo widdle kiddy kiddy…awen’t you the cutest widdle kiddy kiddy…whews yo mamma? Huh? Whews yo mamma?”

Yup, I was her.

I was that.




Crazy cat lady.

Fast or slow, punctuation or no punctuation, any way you dice it,  it always spells:

C R A Z Y.

And that kitty kitty, I’m sure was glad to be saved.

It took me .5 seconds after that to get back to the house, which was not nearly enough time to concoct a story to tell husband about why oh why I was bringing yet another furry thing into our tiny, tiny home.

But as soon as I opened the door and sweetly presented our little gift from the cat gods (or from someone who is playing a dirty, nasty trick on me for ever having said an ill word toward the species) husband grabbed her up.

And when I began the inevitable photo shoot of the new addition?

getting acquainted...not going so well at this point...

He told me to stop.


Yes stop.

“You are scaring her.”

And then, after my failed attempt at giving her milk, he fed her spaghetti.

And put her in his pocket.

And told me to stay back.

“She’s mine. “

Good Lord, what have we become?

The crazy cat lady has created a monster.

Or a cat farmer.

I wonder if this one will get a name?

Heaven help the softhearted.

I give up.


Crazy (insert animal) lady…

So I am officially crazy. Or have gone crazy. Or maybe I was there already.

Yeah, I think that’s it.

Because in this tiny house lives two humans, two dogs, probably a million spiders, a couple mice I’m sure, and now, two cats.

Well, kittens for now, but someday too soon they will become cats. And that is the problem with kittens.

But I needed them. You know, because of the alleged mice. And they are supposed to be barn cats. When I entered into this agreement with the previous possessors of the kittens, this was the plan. Out to the barn.

Well…they have been here for two weeks, living wild, bouncing off furniture, hanging from the curtains, running from the pug, jumping on the pug, scratching at the carpet, and today I caught one on the inside of my partially open window, making his merry little way up the screen. Yes, they have been here, in all their grey striped, fur-ball, squeaky, jumpy, frantic and dare I say charming and completely loveable ways…and they have yet to see the inside of that barn.

See I claim to be a dog person and have stood my ground on this for a long enough time, but here, friends, is my confession. I am not a dog person. I am not a cat person. I am not a hamster person. I am just a plain, downright, head over heals, stupidly obsessed, animal person.

And the proof is in my colorful past spent catching, finding, taming and raising ridiculous creatures. Yes, I had the occasional cow puppy who I would take over and try to train to do everything but chase cows (which turns out to be the only things cow dogs are really good at, besides eating poop). I had pups that bit my little sister’s ankles, pups that never learned to fetch and pups that would come and lick my face when I would try to get them to pull me on my sled.  I even had a runt puppy that made it into an elementary school play dressed in a tutu.

Yeah, I did that to him

Of course there were horses (although we don’t really consider them pets), and the occasional bottle-fed calf that would be fun and cute until it was big enough to escape the fence and chase me home, nudging and knocking me over as I ran for my life doing everything it could to get the last drop of milk out of the bottle I stupidly still clenched in my hands.  No, I was not his mother, but I could never convince the calf of that.

But my love for the non-human did not end with my furry friends. No, I did not discriminate. I spent much of my childhood searching for and trying to capture frogs and salamanders living in the creeks behind our house. I also had a couple of pet turtles that had brief stays in mom’s crock pot (for a cage, not for soup) and one snake our hired man found in the yard.

And then there were the lizards. All six of them. The kind that would change from brown to green. So cool.  No, I didn’t have all six at once, just one unfortunate lizard soul at a time, each one a replacement for the previous lizard that died a mysterious death before; each death a little blow to my tender, animal loving heart and each death over analyzed:

“Perhaps it was the giant wasp I tried to feed him?”

“Maybe it was the cat?” (those damn cats)

“Maybe it was old age, I mean how do you tell the age of a lizard? That must be it.”

“Maybe mom shouldn’t have left the terrarium out in the sun on a 90 degree day while I was away at Bible Camp (and then try to trick me with a replacement lizard. I was at Bible Camp for crying out loud!)”

Oh, and I almost forgot about the baby goat, Filipe, who wasn’t really mine, but a baby…errr…goat sitting project during Christmas break when I was eleven. Nevertheless, I put him in diapers and took photos of him under the Christmas tree.

I am pretty sure they enjoyed this...but I can't quite tell...

Anyway, all of these critter experiences were little lessons for me about death and self-control and frustration management and the fact that it is a miracle if you can get anything to listen to you (especially when it comes to pulling you in a sled), you bring it home, you feed it and life generally doesn’t turn out as planned.

Hence the cats.

Oh, we had cats when we were growing up too, but I try to blame that on my sisters, especially when I reveal to those who show any kind of interest all of the incredibly random names we gave them…I mean, we had a cat named Belly who had kittens that we respectfully named Button (get it?) and Head. Really not quite sure about that one.

But the truth is, I really loved cats too. So much so that when I was in diapers, and had yet to learn my own strength, I would pick up the kittens my grandma would bring in from the barn (where they are supposed to live) and love them so much that, unsupervised, I would literally squeeze them until they puked.

I wouldn’t believe this either, but unfortunately I was born after cameras were invented.

Poor kitties.

Anyway, luckily I have grown up into a non-sadistic, animal loving adult (I am sure my parents were worried there for a bit) and I haven’t squeezed these kitties to death yet. I think I can control myself. But I am not sure what I am going to do about the four animals in the house thing. I am eating my words for making fun of my sister for her four cats. I am not sure who is crazier here.

But they have made their home. They have found their little nooks and crannies and favorite blankets to curl up on. They chase each other around the coffee table, they purr when I pick them up. They lick my toes. They dart around after little glints of light and bask in the sunspots that shine through the windows.

Even the pug loves them, although it might be because they are so good at hide and seek, but he is appreciative enough to let them have his spot on the couch and that is serious business. And the lab doesn’t mind as long as they leave his tail alone.

I think this is where he developed his annoyance--with our first attempt at a house cat...see how she's going right for the tail.

So what’s a girl like me to do? I am an adult now and know better, but the truth is, these animals I surround myself with make me feel…

…calm on a crazy day and crazy on a morning when I’m running late and one of them puked…frustrated when all of my screams will not succeed in getting the lab to cease in chasing after the deer he will never catch…completely enthusiastic about inanimate objects like sticks and Frisbees…absolutely disgusted when what goes in must come out–on the living room floor…totally relaxed on a winter’s evening with a good book and a fur ball at my feet…absolutely loved when I come home to slobbery, jumping, balls of energy who couldn’t be happier in any other moment….and human for knowing that no matter what, these are just animals and they will never be able to tell me if my ass does indeed look big in these jeans.

So I think I’ll keep those kitties in the house a while longer, if only to make up for the ones I may have squeezed too hard. Besides, they need a few more good meals before they go out on their big mouse hunt…you know, in the barn…