This is Molly.
She is not our cat, but she lives on our farm. Last June when we moved here, we saw her from a distance around the fringes of the property. She seemed pretty skittish and in general she stayed far away from us.
Our cats don't like her around, so that was part of the reason she stayed so far away. Any chance they get, they chase her as far as she will run.
Late in the fall, before it had started to get cold, she suddenly started coming around our house in the evening, after the cats were inside for the night.
She was tentative at first, coming within a few feet of Papa Bear or I, sniffing our hand, rubbing against a boot, then taking off.
And then one evening she decided we must be OK. She stayed on the back step all night, meowing.
She didn't want to come in.
Turns out, she wanted food.
Every night thereafter, she came to the back door after dark, meowing for her dinner.
Of course, PB and I being totally
Sometimes she would hang around long after the kibbles were gone. She seemed just to want some company, a scratch on the cheek, some.... love.
Fall was mild and warm. Then the pre-Christmas blizzard hit us. Snow was coming down hard and winds were fierce. Over 12" of snow fell that day, some of it drifting 3' or higher in the winds. There was no sign of Molly as dusk fell, nor any sign of her long after dark.
I was, I will admit, worried about her.
We thought she was pregnant - her sides had been bulging out and of course that insatiable request for dinner every night.
A pregnant cat alone in a blizzard. I had odd thoughts about Mary and the baby Jesus on a long, cold winter's night in a crude cave-like stable roughed out of the rocky hillside. The baby nestled on a bed of sweet smelling hay, his young, exhausted mother worried but gazing lovingly at him along with the cattle and sheep.
After my last round of chores, buttoning up the chicken coop and making sure everyone had unfrozen water and lots of hay, I took one last trip past our haymow, thinking if I were a cat, this is where I would be living this winter.
I had been getting hay from this haymow every day since our first snowfall, and had not caught sight of her in there yet.
But tonight, as I walked up to the stack of round bales, she came darting out of the tunnel made between two large round bales.
She was here! Alive and well. And startled as heck that I had found her. She obviously was not expecting me.
So of course I went and got her food (she followed me out into the snow and wind to the back door) then I lured her back to the hay mow where she could eat sheltered from the howling winds and swirling snow.
From that day forward, being completely trainable as mentioned before, we bring her food and water to the haymow.
We've been looking for signs of kittens, but nothing so far. The tunnels between the hay bales go back pretty deep. If there are kittens, it may be weeks before we catch any sight of them.
Every evening I put down her food, giving her pets and scritches and she purrs like crazy rubbing all over my hand and knee then dives into the kibble.
I know I shouldn't be encouraging stray felines to live here.
But I have a soft spot for calicoes.
Or maybe just a soft spot for kitties.
Or maybe just a fondness for the philosophy that "no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
Thanks, Aesop. I'm bound to have a haymow full of kittens for the rest of my life now.