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Unfinished business

In to the Wind

December 14, 2010
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
MIKE GILCHRIST IN THE TOLEDO CHRONICLE

This winter season has me off my game, at least so far. There have been few of the trials and tribulations I’ve come to expect being a rural denizen. The past five winters have taught me to be prepared for the worst. Let me explain.

Last year, we had our first snowfall in October. It seemed like I was forever digging out from under yet another layer of snow, and the drifts; one after another after another! Last winter I burned an entire cord of wood during October and close to two cords in November. Yes, we’ve had some cold weather recently, but this winter is a pussy cat compared to the lion of the five winters past. I didn’t even fire up the woodstove until well into December!

What a wonderful segue to news regarding the most recent addition to Gilly Hollow.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, because Wink already has. Right now, contentedly curled up on my stomach while I pound out this missive is a new cat, a small black and white, completely adorable green eyed kitten.

Like all of the domestic animals here, Garth is rescued. Garth is not some exotic breed of cat bred for the entertainment of his human keepers. No, Garth is a plain old run of the mill alley cat with personality. He was rescued by the Tama County Humane Society. Apparently, he was found in a garage. He had suffered some extreme trauma which had to be excruciatingly painful. He had a compound fracture of one of his rear legs which had healed with the foot and leg pointing backwards. That particular appendage was like a dead weight and definitely a liability to Garth. A humanitarian campaign was launched by the staffers at the Humane Society, and money was raised to pay for amputation of Garth’s deformed leg.

The surgery went well and Garth has healed quite nicely. Because he is missing a rear leg, he can’t jump up on things like other cats, but that doesn’t keep him from running and being a terror like any other 15 week old kitten.

Wink, the little white one eyed cat has gone through a range of emotions and behavior since Garth came to live with us. The first day, Wink seemed afraid of the kitten. She would run and hide and keep that eye on Garth. By the second day, she had warmed up a little. On day three you could watch Garth come up to her in a submissive manner and want to play. Wink will play with him for a bit and then not want to be bothered any more. She is gentle with him and I don’t fear she will hurt him.

Wink is however angry with me. I think she feels she has lost her privileged status and has been ignoring me. Instead of lying right next to me on the couch, she will maintain her distance and jump up and go elsewhere if I try to bring her closer. I’m hoping she will adapt and go back to being her old self. Wink is half wild and always has had a mind of her own. I’ve told you before she thinks I’m her mom since I rescued her from certain death that frigid February morning. Maybe she is just maturing a little bit and doesn’t need her “mom” as much as she did If that is the case, then it is coincidental with Garth’s arrival.The former is probably the case, or some kitty combination of the two.

We really do have a menagerie of animals here at Gilly Hollow: Wink the little white one eyed cat, Garth the diminutive three legged cat, Paris the now too fat three legged dog, Holly the somewhat lame large yellow Labrador retriever and Frankie the overly friendly yet jealous chocolate Labrador retriever.

I started this column out by stating I have unfinished business. If I don’t, I feel like I do.Tomorrow, which will be Saturday December 11, 2010, we are supposed to be getting a winter storm – or not. Even the weatherman is being cryptically noncommittal.It just goes to show that nature does what nature wants, right? Either I’m going to be dealing with an icy lane, a snowy lane, or nothing.They seem to all agree I will definitely be stoking that wood stove, with the temperatures in the single digits after the storm passes.

I am writing this column on Friday morning, as is usual. The sun is out and the temperature is rising. Yesterday I saw 37 degrees on my outdoor thermometer. Yeah, I feel like I’m missing something or the other shoe is about to drop.

Have I told you before I love metaphors? I do! It seems I jabbed a stick into a hornets nest last week with my column about wind generators.

To further your education a bit and clarify some things about wind generators, I wanted to tell you a couple things I’ve learned.

Most people’s image of a contemporary wind generator is not the quaint little windmills that once dotted the Iowa landscape, and were mainly used to pump water for livestock. No, the contemporary image is that of the behemoths you see in so called wind farms these days and are planned for Tama County. A residential sized wind generator is much smaller and has a much smaller footprint than a huge industrial generator.

Classical wind generators and the new huge ones have what is called a horizontal axis or shaft. Vertical vanes spin a horizontal shaft. There has been a lot of development on vertical shaft wind generators lately. Some of these look like a “squirrel cage” fan set on its side spinning a vertical shaft. Designs of this sort might be just the thing for residential deployment.

Hopefully by the time you read this, all the hornets will be back in the nest.

Until next time—

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2010 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at mike@aweiowa.com via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.

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