Too Much of a Good Thing

Cats and peaches. We have too many of them. There are cats and peaches in buckets. Cats and peaches rolling on window ledges. Cats and peaches always under our feet. They are soft and furry and everywhere you look.

The peach tree did very well this year. Too well for its own good in fact. Its branches eventually became so heavy with burgeoning fruit that, one after the other, they collapsed. The peach tree is now more of a peach tent, with props of hazel supporting the snapped branches to maintain the remaining lifelines to the trunk and roots, and to keep the ripening fruit from spoiling in a crush of wet leaves and grass on the ground.

When the fruit is done and gone, the tree can have a thorough pruning, and start fresh and stumpy ready for next year’s growth. But for now, any trip to the vegetable garden requires a stooping shuffle through the peachy obstacle course, with rosy ripe fruit raining squishily onto shoulders and into wellingtons.

It’s a Jolly Good Thing that pigs like peaches. Every day I collect a bucketload of fallen plumpness to hurl wildly into the pigs’ pen, so that I can stand back and enjoy their mad dash to snuffle as many as possible before each other. Then they return to the scene of each guzzly crime a few minutes later to polish off the stones, with a bone-chilling crushing and grinding of piggy jaws, that always makes me think of pigs devouring the evidence in countryside murder stories.

I’m not sure what we should do with the surfeit of cats though, (no comments about kitten chow mein, thank you).

Closer inspection has revealed that Barn Mother has five (yes FIVE) little bundles of feline fluff keeping her wriggly company amongst the hay, while she awaits the delivery of the next instalment. This time around she has one tabby, two black, and two black-and-gingers.

And they are, each and every one of them, totally and utterly gorgeous. Argh….! Sucker!

This has to stop. But at what point? And how exactly? I can just about imagine how we get Barn Mother into a cage for her first snippy trip to the vet, but I somehow can’t imagine her sticking around and then coming willingly for the return visit to get the stitches out, eight days later. And if we wait till she has finished nursing this litter, she’ll be giving birth to the next lot, before you can say Jack Robinson. And what then? Another five perhaps? There is a limit to just how much cat food you can get in a shopping trolley at any one go.

But, for the moment, Things are As They Are, and we are back up to the ten cat count. Five in the barn, four in the house and one Little Tom dispossessed, and wandering sadly and twitchily between the two, trying to fill his belly whenever the opportunity arises, without incurring the hissy wrath of the smug house cats or the ranting hostility of his Own Mother, who thinks it’s high time he got himself a job and learnt to stand on his own four feet.

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