Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

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.

30 September

Zip’s Journey: Touching Noses Now, Touching Our Hearts, A Remarkable Moment In Our Lives

by Jon Katz

When we decided to adopt Zip, we never expected that he would be so affectionate or end up dozing. In Maria’s lap just a few days after, we let him out of his crate. Just after he crawled into her lap and went to sleep, he had crawled into mine to get some petting and attention. We were both shocked and touched.

He was described to us as a needy and anxious cat; we were told he would take a long time to get comfortable in a new place. He was feral yet also needed, we were told. He had no desire to get into anybody’s lap or enter anyone’s house; he had lived alone and outside for eleven months.

It seems we broke through whatever barrier that was, Maria first, me second. He hides when strangers show up and stay near his barn safety house. He won’t come near the farmhouse. But more and more, he shows excellent devotion, trust, and affection for us.

He had never lived this way with people before; it is clearly something he very much wanted, and so did we. The connection between people and animals has been one of the joys of my life, and it is at the center of Maria’s life, which has helped me learn so much.

I’m very much surprised by his impact on the farm and on our lives. And on me. Animals are a reflection of us; they give us what we need, and we return the favor.

I could hardly believe it when I saw him climb into Maria’s lap, cuddle up, lie down, and sleep. It was a touching and beautiful moment for me, and I always had my camera at hand. Maria was stunned when Zip touched noses with her, the nearly universal way friendly animals greet one another. Zinnia does it all the time.

Zip’s entry into our lives was a kind of bombshell we didn’t expect but indeed wanted. This is a testimony to love, trust, and patience; we have learned so much about those things during our lives with animals.

I was going to save his photo for tomorrow, but I couldn’t wait to share it. It brings me great pleasure; I hope it also brings you some. This was not the cat we thought we were getting, but it was the cat we were delighted to have. There are many lessons; I don’t know what they are yet.


30 September

A Brilliant Artist Lives In My Garden Bed. I Look For His Painting Every Morning. It’s Easier To Spot In The Rain…

by Jon Katz

Poetry is a fresh morning spider-web telling a story of moonlit hours of weaving and waiting during the night. – Carl Sandburg

Every morning after it rains, I look for his her artistry, it is easiest to see when the sun is right behind it or when it catches the raindrops. He (or she) is a fantastic artist; I can hardly believe what he does during the night and how graceful and elaborate it is.

Mother Nature is the most significant art creator on the earth. The spider artist has made his way into my raised garden bed, and I welcome him and thank him for the beauty of his work. Like many artists, life among people is cruel and often short. There are whole shelves of spray cans devoted to killing him.

It rained yet again last night; this web caught my breath. He shows his work all over the earth every day.

30 September

Fall Color Riot. My Flowers Sing Their Song. Seven Images To Do What Flowers Do Best: Touch Your Soul, Life Your Spirits

by Jon Katz

I went on a color and light mission this afternoon, just as the sun burst through the clouds, I walked around my garden bed in search of flowers that will life the spirits and shine up the soul. I got lucky, I think, I used my Leica and my Iphone to capture these images.

My garden took a battering with all the rain, and the temperatures are beginning to drop. But there is plenty of life and color left. It’s a great pleasure for me to pursue it. I am always surprised by how many beautiful pictures of flowers that I can take.

More rain and more sun. That seems to be the formula.

I think flowers need one another and are drawn together.

The smallest flowers are blooming now, beautiful in a different way.


The begonias are elegant, dignified, they love autumn.


30 September

Zipland: Questions And Answers About Our New And Adventurous Barn Cat

by Jon Katz

Questions about Zip continue to pour onto my blog post pages from Facebook and e-mails. I am committed to answering them as long as they keep coming in, and I thank my readers for these questions; they are challenging me to learn a lot about Zip and all cats. I’m determined to do that; it has been suggested that Zip is turning me into a Cat Person, something I have avoided almost all my life.

Here are the questions.

Keep them coming on my blog posts, in e-mail – [email protected] – or on Facebook, where the blog also appears. The questions will only be answered here on the blog. I can’t respond to all of them on different platforms in real time, I don’t have the time. But I will try to answer everyone here, and thanks for asking them. Zip is a big deal for me and, obviously, for my readers.

I am learning as much or more as I am answering as I research them.


One: Who named him Zip?

The rescue group did. It was a brilliant choice, I never would have thought of it. He is a Zip.


Two: Do you think Zip is more affectionate than your female barn cats?

He is more affectionate and demonstrative than our two female cats, Flo and Minnie; they were mostly feral. Zip is an outdoor cat, but he seems needier than they were. He loves to rub against my leg or Maria’s and is beginning to get into our laps. Flo and Minnie never wanted to do that, although they did want to be rubbed and scratched. Minnie and Maria got very close, and Flo relentlessly subdued me.


Three: We accidentally rescued a cat as smart as Zip and wonder what you would suggest for getting our next cat as delightful as Zip (and our Molly).

This was a matter of luck, but it helps to call an experienced rescue group and tell them the kind of pet you want and how you want to live with him. This is true of all pets; the more information we give breeders, rescue or shelter people about what we want, the better the odds you will get that. We told this rescue group, Salem Community Cats, what we wanted, how he or she would live, and Zip fit the bill.

We knew he was the cat for the minute we looked at his picture. People often get pets emotionally or impulsively without doing much thinking or research. The harder we work at it, the better we do. With cats, the best rescue groups will always try to match you with the dog or cat you want for the animal’s sake and yours. They don’t want their pets to be returned or abandoned. That happens all the time.


Four: I have never had a cat, as I am allergic to them. I know there are different breeds of cats, but I don’t know much about them. Do you have any idea what breed of cat Zip is, or is he a mix? Genuinely wondering as I am cat-ignorant.

No more than I am. I’m unsure of his breeding history; Zip was abandoned or escaped early and has lived outdoors all his young life. People call him a Tuxedo Cat, but I don’t think that’s a breed. Maria would call him a domestic short hair, but that’s the best we can do. There is no one to ask. Some cats work for people with allergies; they don’t shed. Ask your vet about it if you are interested.


Five: Question about Zip. I’m confused. You say you feed him regular cat food, but you expect him to live longer than house cats because he is not fed processed food. Isn’t regular cat food processed?

We feed him daily if he wants to eat, but he is free to go out and hunt, which he already does. If he follows Barn Cat precedent, he will catch and eat birds (once in a while), baby rabbits, moles, and chipmunks. This varied diet, say our vets, is very healthy for barn cats and why they live longer than house cats when fed and cared for.

If he catches something good, he’ll ignore the food we give him as time passes. In Spring and summer, most of their diet goes to nature, but there is always food for them if they want or need it, and the vet approves the food as the best available. Eating their natural food is clearly healthy for them, but when there are blizzards or storms, it’s good for them to have an option. We offer him food every day. All commercial food is processed in one way or another, but it won’t be his full diet, not if he is the barn cat we think he is.

By feeding him regularly now, we made sure he attached himself to us and didn’t take off the second he got out of the crate. Food is essential to the human-animal bond. We ensured he knew this was home; for almost all animals, home is where the food is.


Six: How Does Bud Like Him?

We don’t really know; they stare at each other between a fence, but they haven’t met nose to nose yet; we don’t want to rattle Zip when he’s so new. I’m sure Bud will not like him and try to run him off as he does all strange and new things to the farm. He won’t get far with Zip, who seems fearless. I predict when they meet, which will soon, Bud will get a scratch on his nose and then mind his own business. Bud thinks he’s a lion but is often reminded that he isn’t. But loves to chass things, but they must be small for him to catch or eat them.

He stared at Minnie and Flo and often barked at them, but they just ignored him. Flow gave him a whack once, and he never got close to her again.



Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming, and I will continue to answer them. They do me and you good. I’m learning a lot from them and my work answering them.

Email SignupFree Email Signup