Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA

Kitties & Compassion

For those of you who follow the blog & Facebook page, you probably know Puff had gone missing. As much as I'd like to say he came home safe & sound, that is not the case.  Life on a farm seldom imitates those happily-ever-after Disney-type tales.  A neighbor found some Puff-colored hair in the woods, as though there was a fight. There are plenty of things with sharp teeth in the woods, and unfortunately, they enjoy dining on pets & poultry. While we found no blood or body, he had never been missing before, and despite the tales folks have shared with me about cats showing up long after hope was lost, I've accepted the fact that he isn't coming back.  Puff had a personality much larger than his size, and I'll miss the fluffball dearly, as I'm sure many of our farm stand friends will as well. I just count myself blessed to have had 11 great years with him.

It also never ceases to amaze me how animals can show love, compassion, or whatever you want to call it, to their humans. Maxwell & Itty Bit (other farm kitties) followed me faithfully through field, forest, and along the road while I searched for Puff. I'm sure they knew he wasn't coming back before I did.

Maxwell is only a year old, and he has always idolized Puff- cuddling with him, following him around, and just generally looking at him like he was thinking that he wanted to be exactly like Puff when he grew up. Max has been my constant companion, the first week I couldn't even go to the bathroom without him! He's taken to sleeping in all the spots Puff did, including on my bed, something he's never done before. And at least, unlike his hero, Max stays off the pillows! Itty Bit has been close by as well. (She's sitting in the computer chair with me as I type right now.) Even Stumpy, a kitten born this spring, has been extra sociable, and managed to weasel her way into the house enough that I've upgraded her status from porch kitty to house cat.  And if there is any balm for a sad heart, I think warm cuddles and the antics of baby animals are right up there.  Stumpy has been tearing about the house all morning at lightning speed. It impresses me greatly, because she lost a hind foot at birth, but doesn't let it stop her from running, jumping, climbing into my houseplants, or just generally being a kitten. 

The only thing that remains to be seen is if any will step into Puff's pawprints as self-appointed farm stand mascot.  And I know that wherever Puff is, a part of him will always be here at the farm with us.  I mean that quite literally...I'm sure I'll still be sweeping up cream-colored cat hair for years to come...


Please Help! Puff is Missing!

Hello farm friends. Today I'm blogging, hoping for a little help. Those of you who have visited the farm stand have probably met Puff. He's a big, fluffy tan cat who absolutely loves people. He considers it his job to greet everyone who stops by, and is great about letting anyone pet him- young, old, special needs, it doesn't matter to Puff. Anyone can give him a pat or carry him around.

But Puff is missing.

Around the farm, cats come and go. Sometimes it's harder that others, but Puff is one that's a pet, a forever friend. Puff just turned 11 on the 4th of July, and I have known him literally before he was born; I can remember carrying around his pregnant mother and feeling the kittens move before she gave birth. Unfortunately, she was hit & killed on the road when the kittens were just 3 weeks old. I took them and raised them, midnight feedings and all. They all made it; two would find new homes. Puff's sister lived with us too, until she met the same fate as her mother, just on a different road. Puff was my sister Laurel's cat, and she spoiled him rotten while I was in college. I moved home after college to help care for my terminally ill father, and Puff was there. In fact, he spent the last day or so of my Dad's life on my Dad's bed, comforting him. If he stood to jump down, my Dad would place his hand on Puff, and he would stay, so unlike usual cat behavior. I think he knew, somehow, that those were Dad's last hours. After that, I took Puff because no one else in the family had room for him, at least not away from the highway, and Puff has always loved to be outside. I took him into my little trailer before I had even met Dan. Puff put up with my house bunny, not hurting him even when the rabbit would mistake Puff for a female of his own species. (So funny!) When I came to the farm, so did Puff. He adapted well to all the critters and the freedom to roam. We had no idea how social he was until we opened the farm stand and Puff appointed himself mascot & head greeter.

Sure, like any animal he got on my nerves. I spent the morning of my wedding cleaning an infected wound on his shoulder because he got into a fight. I've lost sleep many nights because he was sure the best place to sleep was on my pillow, purring with his tail in my face. When thrown off the bed, he comes back like a furry yo-yo. When he wants in or out, he scratches walls or doors until he gets his way. He does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. I think he has trained me far more than I ever will him.

Puff comes & goes so much in the summer that I can't remember exactly when I last saw him. Definitely Thursday, maybe Friday morning, but I just can't remember. I didn't see him Friday night, and he missed “work” yesterday. All the kitties were MIA, but my Mom was visiting with her dog. That was scary to the other kitties, but Puff lived with Pepper the dog for years. Puff used to wrestle with our other dog Penny, so I didn't think that was why I didn't see him. I've checked & rechecked every room and building on the farm, no small task. No Puff either. We found the other cats hiding the day away in the cornfield, but no Puff. I've walked the road and checked in the weeds, no sign of his body, no blood on the road, nor any sign of a struggle that might indicate he met a bad end with a coyote. I've called and called, but he doesn't answer.  I just keep expecting to walk into a room and see him curled up napping on a bed or a chair or the carpet in a room he's not allowed to be.  It breaks my heart a little each time I turn a corner and he's not there.  Mom said she dreamed of him last night;  he was just sitting on the porch, waiting to be left in, looking at us all like we were silly for wondering where he was and when he'd be back.

It's so hard not knowing. He is 11 years old, perhaps he was sick, knew his time was up, and went off to die without telling us. But he appeared to be in fine health as always. Perhaps he followed someone, maybe a nearby camper, back to their place. He hates cars and yowls like crazy; I have a hard time believing he was catnapped and taken away, but who knows. If he was, I hope they bring him back, or at the very least give him the love that I did. I've put flyers up around the neighborhood, alerted neighbors, posted a sign on the farm stand with his picture, offering a reward.  I posted to both the farm's Facebook page as well as my own personal one.  Now I'm asking you, my blog readers, for help, too.  I hope he comes back, one way or another, but my heart is breaking because I don't think I'll ever see him again. I worry he's hurt somewhere. I'd want to know, to be able to bury his body, if he is dead. But most of all, I'd just love to hear him purring in my ear again. I love this cat. And as much as Dan isn't a cat person, he is upset, too, but is the one trying to reassure me and tell me not to think the worst.

If you see ANY sign of Puff, please, please let us know. Email at , call anytime at 814-755-3911  or just stop by the farm.  A reward is being offered!


Love Your Country? Shop Local.

The Fourth of July is here.  Around here, it's the time of year for the local county fair, plus fireworks and parades here and in nearby towns.  When we celebrate America, we seem to start by being more active in our communities- I think that's why when we think “Independence Day”  we associate it with the kind of neighborhood get-togethers where family, friends and neighbors congregate.  The kind of events that center around food, conversation, and games like horseshoes or volleyball.   

There was an editorial article in last week's daily paper commenting about community and buying local. A woman had recently opened, of all things, a bookstore.  The odds of a bookstore succeeding in the age of Kindles and Amazon is shockingly slim.  The only ones that do are the ones that have a group of loyal customers who value personal service above cut-rate prices.  They appreciate the personal service, and understand that paying the full cover price is the difference between having quirky little shops thrive and empty, boarded-up storefronts.   

The same is quite true with your food.  Although the farmer's market hours may not be the most convenient,  the quality and freshness are unbeatable.  The price at the local farm might be a little higher than the Super Mega Mart's, but your money is staying local.  You know it's going straight to the farmer that grew the crops, instead of corporate execs who pay the laborers out in the field slave wages.  And any time you can spend locally, your money stays in the community.  I know here at the farm, we patronize lots of local businesses.   Obviously, the businesses where we get the cheese and coffee, but lots more than that too-local, family-owned (not chain) business: the gas station, grocery store, hardware store, feed mill, restaurants, our Amish neighbor's saw mill.  And keeping money in the community means jobs for our neighbors, who can then choose to buy locally, too. 

Sure, there are plenty of times where we run errands and go to places like Home Depot and Wal-Mart.  Sometimes it's because we can't find what we're looking for locally, and sometimes we just need to watch our budget like everyone else. It's not a crime to do so.  But if all of us made it a point to spend a little more money in our own communities, at business owned by local folks, we can make a difference in the amount of small business that serve our communities.   

So on this July Fourth, it a great time to remember all the things we love about our country, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. But loving our country should be a year-round feeling, and one that truly starts at home.  We wish everyone a safe & happy holiday, and hope your picinic has some local flavor to it...there is so much delicious in season now!
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