Life lessons

There have been some difficult life lessons lately after our cat, George, got in amongst the quails. First, two quails went missing and the only evidence of their existence was a small pile of feathers in the yard. We thought they had flown over the fence of their run, then been caught by the cat, so we extended the fence higher to keep them in.

Next, Emerson found the cat with a quail in his mouth. Her scream sent me running, and though the poor bird survived the ordeal, despite our best efforts, she did not survive the night. That was particularly hard on my sweet nature loving six year old. We buried the quail beneath a lemon tree and although distraught, Emmy understood that it was in the cat's nature and loved him regardless. We found a small gap where the rain had washed away the soil and the quail could possibly have escaped, so we boarded it up and as an extra measure brought a large bird net - the type that goes over fruit trees - and secured it over the hutch and run so that the birds couldn't possibly fly out.

A couple of days later Emerson's heart broke yet again when she discovered three dead quails in their run. I sent her inside to get Dada while I inspected the damage. Three of the remaining six quails had their poor little heads bitten off and all evidence pointed to the cat. We believe he had been jumping the neighbours' six-foot fence, walking along the cubby house and jumping into the run. While we had been worried about keeping the quails in, we had not realised we needed to focus on keeping the cat out. He's more than twelve years old but obviously should not have been underestimated. This time Emerson asked if we could sell the cat...

The netting is now nailed in place and the cat has no means of entrance. I am pleased to say that the surviving quails are doing quite well. We tried to replace the missing quails, but as it is Autumn and quails hatch in Spring, we shall have to wait until next year to increase our flock again. Emmy has forgiven George, while also learning much about the nature of life and death.

I took the children to see a baby barn animals petting farm and she would now quite like to add a goat, piglet and sheep to our menagerie. But for now, she will have to make do with six chickens, three quails, one naughty cat, hundreds of gold apple water snails and a mealworm farm.

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