Sunday, 5 June 2016

animal tales and a plant postscript

We have been trying to put Our Ginger on a diet.  After the old tabby died he virtually stopped eating, and we were quite worried about him, and since the kittens arrived we have been trying to cheer him up, and he has expanded.  I was quite shocked when I read the daily recommended allowance of cat biscuits, weighed it out on the kitchen scales and saw how small twenty grammes of biscuits was.  Under the new regime we weigh his ration of dry food and put his daily allowance of pouches out at the start of the day and that's it, if and when he eats all of it he's not getting any more.

There are a couple of snags with this theory.  The guidance on the biscuit box about how much you should be feeding to cats of various weights (which doesn't even go up to Our Ginger's weight the last time he visited the vet) doesn't specify the ambient temperature, but casual observation shows that cats eat much more when it's cold.  And if we feed Our Ginger less than he wants to eat he is perfectly capable of going out and making up the shortfall for himself.  This morning I found a quarter of a mouse outside the garage, just a tail and one hind leg.  I assume the other three quarters disappeared down the cat, along with the head of the headless squirrel that the Systems Administrator found laid out in front of the television.

One of the kittens has had an upset tummy.  I would not have believed how many interesting conversations about poo the SA and I could hold with perfectly straight faces until we got these kittens.  On Friday it was definitely the energetic one, but his last recorded bowel movement was firm and perfectly formed.  So was the watchful kitten's last stool, while Mr Fluffy performed beautifully last night.  This could mean that all is now well, or that the problem is random.  Maybe they sometimes eat too much.  The energetic one ate a piece of paper this morning, which can't be good for him.

Last night's camera session showed a fox walking along the low wall in front of the dahlia bed, while this morning a large rabbit bolted across the concrete in broad daylight, after I'd been out to get the camera.  The rabbits really are taking the piss now.  One has been eating the alpines in the pots on the terrace, and nipping through the stalks of flowers it did not bother to eat, leaving them strewn around the pot.  The terrace (or patio) is all of ten paces from the cat door.  Don't they know we have a squirrel killer living here?

On another subject entirely I promised to let you know how a couple of tender plants over-wintered.  Begonia 'Glowing Embers' turns out to keep well from year to year.  They had made fat surface level tubers by last autumn.  I left them in their pots over the winter and kept them dry, then started watering them again in the spring.  Four of the five began to sprout new leaves and are growing away nicely.  The fifth didn't.  The tuber felt softer to the touch than the others, so perhaps I got the watering slightly wrong.  Still, four out of five isn't bad.  I consolidated the survivors into one large pot and stood it in the shady patch outside the conservatory, where they can jazz up the ferns and hosta.  The fancy dark leaved Ipomoea, on the other hand, didn't form any kind of tuber and by the middle of winter I decided that they were dead and I needed the space in the greenhouse.  Garden centres would like us to buy lots of new bedding every year, but I'm trying to concentrate on things I can keep from year to year or grow myself from seed.

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