1 October

Bedlam Farm Journal, Sunday October 1, 2023. Photographer’s Light, Farmer’s Market, Protecting Birds, Out To Breakfast, Home Reading, Blogging, Gardening

by Jon Katz

I woke up this morning to a different landscape; a black and white cat was sitting on the slate steps, waiting for me to come outside. Last night, I looked out the bathroom window and was startled to see a cat staring at me; he was sitting in the wicker chair that Minnie always sat in, looking in. Our world has changed. The farm is full of excitement and hope and magical, as always.

Some bird associations are unhappy with our decision to let Zip live outdoors.

Our barn cats have never been interested in birds; plenty of mice, snakes, moles, and chipmunks are here, but I understand their concern.

Cats eat a lot of birds when they go outside; I can empathize with their concern. Bird lovers are welcome to post their worries on my blog posts as long as they are civil and direct. That might be too much to ask for, but those are my rules. No more nasty messages here or self-righteous ones. The world is not perfect, and nature is not a gentle part of life.

One of the bird lovers asked me if I was willing to take responsibility for wanting Zip to live outside. I deleted her message; I have no tolerance for pompous or self-righteous people (and was accused of being nasty, of course). As my blog readers know, I am happy to take responsibility for everything that happens here, from typos to bad temper to barn cats living in barns. I’m not campaigning for Sainthood or politics.

No one is forced to read what I write, like what I like, or agree with my decisions. Maria can speak for herself.

I make my own decisions and own up to them. I’ve given up Middle School name-calling—part of my Civil Recovery Project. No one else will tell me what to write, think, say, or do.

But Maria and I – bird and nature lovers –  are standing behind our decision to let Zip live outdoors, as barn cats have been doing for thousands of years. No living thing on earth kills more humans and animals than people. Perhaps we should keep them inside.

Sadly, that is nature’s Darwinian way, but I am standing behind it. Zip will not live indoors like the barn cats who preceded him. Our bird feeders are high up and in the open and not filled in summer or Fall. Barn cats face risks and kill things. Birds are fortunate to have advocates who work to keep them alive rather than separate them from us.

I feel strong this morning, a sign of healing. I weaken quickly in the afternoon and need periodic rests, but I’m driving again and walking more steadily; my brain wobbles are fewer. I get dizzy standing up, but it goes away more quickly than in the past few weeks. My back still hurts; I’m going to see a chiropractor.

I am healing slowly, patience,  patience, patience, rest, rest, rest. I’m not too good at either. Writing and photography are not problems.

We’re going to the Farmer’s Market this morning. Maria is taking me out to breakfast, and we plan on a peaceful afternoon. I hope to blog and read and sit outside with Maria. Walking has to wait; my surgical bandages are coming off on Tuesday, and I’ll be able to walk freely again with my brace then.


  1. I’ll have to admit that I am one of the bird lovers that hates to see outdoor cats. Cats are un-natural predators for birds, at least here in North America. Birds have lived here for millions of years without cats as predators and they haven’t evolved any natural defenses against them, so cats do take a toll on bird populations, which are under threat for other reasons as well – too many people, too much habitat destroyed, global warming. But, my goodness, Zip is such a delightful cat! He will probably take an occasional bird, but I don’t think that he is a major threat. The cats that I worry more about are the feral ones that often live in large numbers and have to hunt to survive. They can devastate bird populations.

  2. I’ve had indoor/outdoor cats (in at night, out in day unless bad weather)for 50+ years, and we had barn cats in my youth on the farm. In all those years, I’ve only observed one bird murder and that was on a cool, very misty morning, catching the bird unaware. So, in my experience, despite cats’ agility, catching a bird is extremely difficult! Mice, voles, rats, yes, but birds are generally quicker, and can fly!

  3. Hi Jon….your pictures today are especially lovely.
    Thanks so much….and for the thoughtful
    decisions you’ve made.

  4. My birds flee more quickly and return more slowly when the hawk goes after them than they run from either my cat or dog…

  5. I love reading about the life of Zip!!! It is so nice to read about the love and joy that you and Maria feel for Zip.
    I also believe he is overjoyed with his new home !

  6. Wow. What a GORGEOUS picture. Wonderful way to start the day! And the complaints about having a barn cat? Almost laughable….

  7. Loving the evolving story about Zip! He really fell over backwards into the very best life a cat could ever want.

  8. Living in the country we have created a bird sanctuary. We cannot have cats, however it appears that 2 feral cats have taken up residence. They keep our mice population down. We are noticing that a the hawks around here take out far more birds than the cats do. In fact I have never seen the cats kill any birds.

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