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Cats aren’t always jerks. Growing up in the Sticks taught me that. At around 10-years-old, our yard blossomed with the feline variety. We never sought cat adoption, and I always found it strange that stray cats found us in the middle of NoWhere, but nonetheless, they did, and their population exploded.

(If you love them, they will come. Remember that.)

Mischief was a calico mama with a patchwork of kittens. The orange ones were always my favorite. Not to tabby-profile or anything, but the orange ones are the smartest, and have a whole circus of personality.

I would spend hours playing with Mischief’s babies. She got so used to me being there, that when I arrived for my shift in the old shed, she went on the hunt.

She brought back baby snakes. Yes. She. Did. Alive. I watched with fascination as she regularly placed a snake in front of her babies, observing them as they toddler- stepped around it, then practiced going for the kill.

You don’t see that in dry-food-bowl civilization.

Not that we didn’t feed them—we did. But as any country cat knows, a night on the hunt might leave them stranded for a variety of reasons. The monsoons. Coyote entrapment on a telephone pole. They may have miles to go before they can return to their food supply back home. Outside cats are skilled workers.

I think pampered cats are too, but comfortable living dulls their brains, and comes with a price: humans are no longer friends, they’re servants. That’s what they think, I promise.

We’re trying to teach The Children to learn skills so that comfortable living doesn’t dull them. Get up and do it. Help your brother/sister. Help turn our groceries into meals. It’s not easy, but we’re making progress. The world doesn’t need our future leaders to be pampered.

By no means are we rich, but we don’t need to hunt for food, or survive on telephone poles for the night, and that’s what makes it hard for kids to understand the importance of going into the Wild for wisdom.

We just want them to bear fruit with the gifts their given.

One snake at a time.

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