Flower Art, Sunday, June 16, 2024: Starring Wildflower Star White Columbine, My Wildlower Queen
16 June 2024 | 10:30 pm

Flower Art, Sunday, June 16, 2024: Starring Wildflower Star White Columbine, My Wildlower Queen

Signing Off, see you in the Morning. I’ve got to see two doctors in Saratoga (it’s just routine) and will be home in the early afternoon. My food brace seems to be updating.

I want to share this writing from the monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Have a peaceful and restful night.

“There is a tendency to believe that this land is full of misery and we want to go somewhere without any suffering. My definition of the Pure Land, or the Kingdom of God, is not a place where there is no suffering, because suffering and happiness inter-arc. Happiness can only be recognized against the background of suffering.


I couldn’t stop taking photos of the White Columbine, which Maria picked earlier today. It hypnotized me.

A dreamy flower, loud and delicate at the same time.


If any flower helps me to think calmly and rationally, it is this wildflower and the others around it.


This is a glimpse of flower heaven.

Lots of excitement, lots of dreaming.

The post Flower Art, Sunday, June 16, 2024: Starring Wildflower Star White Columbine, My Wildlower Queen appeared first on Bedlam Farm.

Zip Report, My Lamp, His Presence
16 June 2024 | 10:08 pm

Zip Report, My Lamp, His Presence

I took two photos today that reveal Zip’s significant impact on Bedlam Farm. The first, above, shows his sudden appearance on the back porch table as Maria and I worked on rewiring an old lamp I used to call the “Brothel Lamp” because it looks so much like the lamps in the old brothels.

The wire frayed, so we put it in the basement; it felt unsafe, and then we forgot. Maria was cleaning out old records and papers from the basement, and she brought it up and asked if I might still want it. I do. I love it; it has great character.

Bud, as usual, had to come up and take charge of the project and get in the photo I was taking. He never fails to make his presence known.


When outside, and he doesn’t care to come, Zip often goes to the grass or a garden and watches quietly.  Here, he kept an eye on Maria walking in the marsh. He didn’t want to go with her.

These days, he is gone for half the day, hunting and exploring. This photo shows how he is often keeping an eye on things when we aren’t aware. He still shows up regularly for our afternoon meeting and always appears when I am outside taking my flower photos.

I love Zip’s independence; he loves to be with us sometimes and not at other times. He is a busy creature and a happy one.

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The Truth About Zip: Caring For Barn Cats: Guidance From Three Different Vets
16 June 2024 | 6:41 pm

The Truth About Zip: Caring For Barn Cats: Guidance From Three Different Vets

When we got Zip last Fall as our new Barn Cat—Minnie and Flo both died last year—we were delighted to have him.  We love him even more now.

He was affectionate, intelligent, skilled at rat and mouse catching, and very happy to have his own space in our barn, with all kinds of places to sleep, hide, and hunt. He was free to be a Barn Cat, an almost mystical animal breed to me.

He and I bonded right away; he got right to my heart. We kept talking about how lucky we were.

So I was shocked—and yes, hurt—by the ugly controversy that erupted on my blog. It seemed that a number of people—city people—started attacking me because Zip was not going to be in the house at night or at any time during the winter.

Zip would be out in the barn doing what barn cats do, keeping rats and rodents away from the animals and our farmhouse.

I was called all sorts of names and threatened with death, and I was amazed to see the sheriff come to the farmhouse and answer a call or two accusing me of animal abuse for making Zip sleep in the barn.

In the country, having barn cats sleeping in the barn was not even mildly controversial. For the animals, it was often a matter of life and death.

Still, I have learned more than once that the less people know about domestic or working animals, the more they are apt to accuse farmers and other people in rural areas of abuse.

Reality and truth are not deemed relevant.

The sheriff’s deputy reported our healthy, well-cared-for, and well-treated cat—that’s just what our vet said. He asked if he could sleep in the barn sometimes.

I fought for a while and then moved on.

We are very happy with Zip, and he seems happy and healthy to be with us.

He is the perfect barn cat—he loves us and loves to hang around with us.  He loves to hunt and live his own life.

He has adopted me as his human, and for the first time in my life, I am madly in love with a cat. I cannot imagine a better fit for us or him. I sit and stroke him at least once a day.

But I like to know what I am talking about, unlike some people who see themselves as warriors for animal rights. I am a warrior for animal dignity, knowledge, and respect.

Like so much else in our country, the rural-urban schism tearing us apart in politics has spread to the animal world. Just ask any farmer or anyone with a working animal of any mind.

To make sure I was doing right by Zap, I have talked to three different veterinarians over the past month or so, one in a big city—Boston—and two who work in the country. One of them is my primary vet, Susanne Farriello, the best vet I have ever known or used.

The other two work nearby.

I told them about Zip, where he sleeps, and what he eats, and I brought him to Dr. Fariello’s clinic to have him checked over.

Here is what I have learned.

First, and honestly, there is always a risk with a barn cat. They might fall prey to predators, run into a road and be hit by traffic, or eat something with worms or diseases.

Some Barn Cats are taught or learn savvy about cars.

Zip never goes near the road; he hangs and explores in the other direction, out in the pasture, the bushes, and the woods.

There is danger from predators, but he is very careful about where he goes and is alert to danger. Donkeys are lovely guard animals; predators like coyotes and raccoons stay away from farms with donkeys and a pack of dogs.

There is risk for him, as there is for human beings, and risk to all life. We believe Zip is as safe as can be, as secure as any outdoor cat anywhere, and as secure as our sheep, chickens, donkeys, and dogs. Barn cats are unique; they know how to care for themselves.

The Boston vet said she knew of no barn cats in her practice, but when I described our care for Zip, she said many of the indoor cats she treated were not as well treated or as healthy as our vet says Zip is.

(Zip had a thorough vet check. His teeth were complete and robust, his weight was perfect, his coat was brushed and clean, and his fecal matter had no flees or worms. He has a tick collar year-round. I brush him twice a week.

All three vets agreed that sleeping in a barn in the winter is risk-free. Countless millions of animals live in barns in the winter, as almost anyone who lives in rural America knows. The doctors all said that barn cats adapt to the cold, gain weight, and thicken their coats.

We got Zip a heated cat house to soothe us,  but he never slept in it.

He roamed as happily in snow and bitter cold as on warm and sunny days.

One suggested a Styrofoam cooler filled with hay, which stays especially warm and is loved by barn cats. We got one for next winter. This, we know, is for us, not for him.

Dr. Fariello, who knows us well, was the most helpful. She said it was important for Zip to be wormed four or five times a year since many of the things he might catch and eat may have potentially dangerous worms inside.

She also said he needed to be kept up on all of the vaccination shots we give the dogs.

I hadn’t thought of the worming, but he was wormed the other day and will be wormed every three months. He got all of his shots when he came, and I will update you. Other than that, we were already doing what the vet suggested.

Zip is fed twice a day, but he is so successful in his hunting that he often skips eating the kibble we leave for him. We’ve cut the food back by half. In the winter, we might up it again. The vets all said the natural diet of barn cats was healthier than any cat food on the market.

They said they were well-cared-for barn cats and lived as long or longer as indoor barn cats. “Your cat,” said our vet, “is a very happy cat.”

All three vets said there is no foundation to the idea that an outdoor cat will suffer from cold weather if they have any shelter, even in the worst storms and bitterest cold. Zip likes to make a nest between the hay bales; a barn has warm spots.

We notice Zip gets lethargic in summer heat; he is the most active and alert in the cold. Like the sheep and the donkeys, he gains weight and fur in cold weather and sheds it in summer.

In short, just about everything people who claimed to be animal rights people were telling me was a lie or ignorance at best. The assaults just made me determined to stick to my guns, but I don’t run from a fight.

But I also know many people who will avoid any situation where they have to fend off the police to love an animal. Many animals pay for that fear with their lives.

How could this possibly be good for animals?

I felt very good to have cared for Zip, affirmed. I didn’t believe the almost inane hysteria pouring into my blog posts, but I wanted to ensure that I knew what I needed to know about caring for a remarkable Barn Cat like Zip. I owed it to him and to the people who have come to love him and read about him.

And yes, I owe it to me.

I am also saddened rather than angry at the almost tragic (for animals) deterioration of the animal welfare movement, which now seems to be controlled by zealots and urban people who know nothing about animals and the people who live and sometimes work with them.

At the end of World War II, 90 percent of Americans lived on or near farms. Today, only 10 percent do.  The people who make the most critical policy decisions about animal care – and their pliant legislators – know almost nothing about them. They are too often ideologues and extremists, the new American pandemic.

From the carriage horses to the ponies that give children rides to the elephants to working dogs, this movement no longer protects animals; it primarily works to drive them away from people and out of the world.

That is sad for them and for the rest of us. The domestic animals who helped humans build their civilization and kept farms safe can only be seen on YouTube.

This is an abuse of children as well as them.

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