Meet Tom. Tom is my new best friend. Tom was born in April to one of the centre’s cats, Dzina, who is a prolific breeder and also happens to have with the world’s most annoying meow. Tom’s full name is Tom Marvolo Riddle, because when you pull his ears back he looks like Lord Voldemort. We also call him Heifer because he looks like a cow (in color not size).
Generally I dislike white cats because they are always dirty, but somehow Tom has found his way to my heart. Perhaps it’s because he lets me cradle him like a baby and carry him around wherever I go. Perhaps it’s because he was the first of his litter to befriend Lou, Marie’s dog, and frequently lets Lou sniff his butt. Perhaps it’s because when he curls up in a little ball on my lap he keeps my legs warm and is just so damn cute. Whatever it is, Tom is my new best friend.
Besides the plethora of cats we have living at the centre we also have eight chickens. At one point we had twelve, I believe, but three died of some eye disease and one was carried up into a tree and decapitated (or perhaps it was the other way around). Of the remaining hens that we had purchased in February, one turned out to be, in fact, a rooster. It was a case of false advertising on the part of the seller (it took us about three months to figure it out) that turned out for the best since now we have brooding hens and we hoping for baby chicks any day. It’ll be a regular baby animal daycare around here.
In addition to our domesticated animals we have a surprising amount of wildlife considering how close we are to Lilongwe. Of an evening I have been known to carry a machete between the stables and my house due to the yip yipping of hyenas in the bush. We have also had a number of close encounters with spitting cobras and twice I almost ran over puff adders, once in the car and once on foot, the later being by far the scarier.
Small antelope and wild pigs often forage in our garden, since most of the grass in the surrounding areas has been burnt. A few weeks ago five wild pigs attacked Molly’s dog Cyder. It would have been bad news for Cyder had Molly not gone crashing through her fence yelling and waving small trees at the pigs. As the pigs turned their attention to Molly, Cyder was able to get away. However Molly got the scare of her life as the pigs started charging her. Luckily she was able to chase them away with the help of her vocal chords and the surrounding trees. After some stitches and a bad shave job Cyder’s wounds have now healed nicely.
I’ve also seen a genet, perhaps the one that decapitated our chicken, jumping through the trees and often hear bush babies crying at night, sounding more like dying birds than anything else.
But of all the animals that we have on this farm, Tom is still my favorite despite (or maybe because of) the fact that he’s always covered in dirt and is the only cat I’ve ever known with bags under his eyes.