To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Year 2: Part 1: Post 4: Working Cats and Working Students

One of the cats has to retire. We found out this morning, during breakfast announcements.

I forget if I've mentioned it before, but the campus has a group of working cats we keep to control rodents in the barns, basements, and greenhouses. Mostly they're kept inside, so they don't hunt birds, although the do get out sometimes--the black and white cat who comes into the Mansion to hang out with Greg is one of them.

They're not just ordinary barn cats. We get most of them from area shelters. Usually they're cats who would otherwise be killed for whatever reason, but who have a record of hunting. They get their shots, they get spayed or neutered, then they come here. I think there are six, now, but I've heard they've varied from three to ten, over the years. Most of them are mean or skittish--that's why they were given up. A lot of them will scratch you if you get close. The black and white one is the friendliest, but he hardly ever lets anyone but Greg touch him. Some of them are old, ill, or--as close to ugly as cats come, anyway. Sarah's people move them around to different buildings as needed. Sometimes, as I said, they get out.

They're only fed once a day, and not much. They're supposed to hunt. But Joy gives them each a medical exam every week, including a weigh-in. If a cat can't or won't hunt or needs more care than we can give it here, they adopt it out. And that's what's happened to this cat. Apparently, he has diabetes. He's a grey tabby, at least ten years old, and he's not violent, though he doesn't like to be touched and he's afraid of children. His name is Sam and he needs regular, carefully prepared meals, but not insulin injections. Not yet. We're supposed to see if any of our friends and family can take him.

Anyone want a grey tabby cat?

Anyway, the campus job fair was a few days ago. It kind of snuck up on me. I mean, last year I
remember it seemed like I'd been here for a while and started to settle in before they hired for campus jobs, and now Brigid just happened and here we are again.

But I looked it up in my journal--it's actually a few days later this year. Time flies, I suppose.

Anyway, as intended, I am now officially a member of Charlie's landscaping team.

There are six of us. I don't know most of the others well, and most of them, like me, are new on the crew. Two of the people from last year graduated, and one, Will, didn't re-apply because he has an outside job as a landscaper lined up and doesn't think he'll have the time to work on-campus, too. There were only five on last year's team, so that leaves Lou as the only veteran. He's in Turtle Dorm, like me, so I know him fairly well, though we've never really hung out.

Lou is something like team captain. We'll be working mostly under his direction, not Charlie's, though Charlie says he'll do training sessions for us once or twice a week once the weather warms up. And he'll inspect our work.

Now, of course, there isn't much to do. Lou has us cleaning and sharpening tools (though most of
them are already done, since Rick and I did it last fall) and cleaning and organizing the sheds and greenhouses. But we'll be done all that in a day or so. Charlie is going to start some plants in the greenhouse, and we'll help keep an eye on them, but that doesn't take six people. Apparently we won't have much work at all until the weather starts warming up, but then we'll make up the difference by working seven days a week, most weeks. At least I'll get to be outside, which was the whole point of signing up.

Bizarrely, I feel kind of sad not to be on the cleaning crew anymore. I was on it for a year, and it kind of got to be a habit. I don't know. Most of the cleaning crew didn't change--Zarah, one of the new students, took my place, but everything else stayed the same. Nickie, Jahred, Ollie, Grant, and Larame are all going on without me, and it sounds stupid, because it's only cleaning, but I'm just a little bit sad or something.

Though, I suppose this was the first Thanksgiving that I've ever done the holiday dishes for my Mom without even being asked. I guess being on the cleaning crew changed me, somehow.

[Next Post: February 17th: Ham and Eggs]

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