Jumbo Update 25 Jan 2013
I have had my Mum staying with us for a while and she has been reminding me of stories of previous orphans that we have had living with us until they could go back to the bush and I thought that over the next couple of weeks I would share some of these with you.
One of the biggest characters that we had was Skinky the genet cat – she was very slinky and on occasion rather stinky thus the name. Genet cats are more mongoose like than cat like in a lot of ways, very agile and extremely playful. Skinky came to us as a tiny kitten with her eyes barely open and we struggled to find a teat small enough to suck on so eventually came up with the solution to put a piece of bicycle tube over the end of a syringe which she was able to suck on and we were able to control the milk flow by gently pushing the plunger down – in more recent years I have found the most fantastic kitten bottles in a great pet shop on one of my trips to South Africa – same design as a dolls bottle with tiny rubber teats which is just perfect for little animals like these and so I bought 20 of them to keep in stock, they even have tiny bottle brushes to be able to clean them properly before sterilizing.
Anyway back to Skinky! As she grew a bit more independent Skinky learnt to drink her milk from a saucer and we were quite quickly able to start including small bits of mince meat to her milk – genets become independent very quickly, a matter of 6 weeks or so vs. the eles who take 4 years and so in a blink of an eye Skinky was a very independent little cat who had the run of the house and garden, she was never in a cage and could come and go as she pleased. When she was about 6 weeks old we rescued a little ginger domestic kitten who was a very similar age and the two of them became firm friends, chasing each other around madly and then curling up to sleep in the same basket.
Skinky could do the most amazing somersaults and if you moved your hand around above her she would do 2 or 3 and then leap up to catch you. She was a natural hunter and was very soon supplementing her diet with various insects and lizards that she caught in the garden and she loved following us on walks through the farm bush where she would scoot up trees in a flash and then wait for us to catch up with her.
One of the most memorable things about Skinky was that she like to use our toilet as her toilet and if the door was closed for some reason she would pace up and down outside and as you opened the door would rush in and perch on the toilet seat – my Dad did make the comment though that she was rather rude as she just never learnt to flush when she had finished!
At about 6 months old Skinky started to venture out further and further into the bush on her own often leaving the house just after supper and only returning in the morning. At about 8 months old she started spending the odd day away as well and by a year old she was spending the majority of the time in the bush and only coming back for the odd visit. She would bring her kittens with her on the odd occasion but they would remain in the bushes and we would just see glimpses of them in the distance. These soft releases were so easy and natural and of course possible with small animals on the farm who had come from the farm or neighboring farms in the first place and it was so special to have our babies come home for a visit from time to time ….. And pick up a free meal whilst they were about it.
It is still very wet and so the barn building is still on hold until things dry out although I did have a chat to David Kelly who is making up a sample of the steel brackets that I need for the roof structure of the barn for me to have a look at hopefully over the weekend and then be able to give me and accurate quote for the 24 that I need so am looking forward to seeing them.