Many of you are familiar with our barn cat, Bubby. Some of you met him during tours of the farm. Some saw him on the television show. And a lot of you read about him in The Bucolic Plague. We’re not exactly sure how Bubby came to the Beekman, or how he got his name, or even how old he was…he was part of the farm years before we arrived. But luckily for us, when we purchased the farm, he decided to stay on and teach us the ropes.
We’re very sorry to let you know that Bubby passed away recently. He’d been growing thinner over the past year, and had stopped eating, but was mousing right up to the end. He caught his final mouse only two weeks before his death. He died with us and Farmer John at his side, and we will bury him come spring by the garden wall, which was his favorite place to perch and scan the horizon for his next victim.
As lucky as we were to have Bubby in our lives, Bubby was also fortunate to have found Beekman 1802 Farm. Many rural cats don’t lead lives as equally charmed as Bubby did. If you have feel moved by Bubby’s story, please consider donating to the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley, a no kill shelter that takes in many many barn cats who need better care.
Below are some pictures of him, and the excerpt that introduces him in The Bucolic Plague. RIP Bubby. Thanks for making us part of your Beekman:
From the Bucolic Plague:
“My next three days were consumed with the alchemy of turning my 600 square foot neglected pasture into an oasis of silken chocolate earth. I arose at the first HERE COMES THE BRIDE and brought my morning cup of coffee out to the “garden” where the tiller waited for me, coated in dew. I’d come to learn its most intimate secrets – from the barely audible squeaking when one of the tines needed readjustment to the complaining flatulence when the gas tank ran low.
Brent came to check on me occasionally, but he’d been with me long enough to know that when I become obsessed with a task, it’s best to stay out of my way. Especially if I’m wielding a piece of heavy machinery outfitted with rotating claws.
My only real company was Bubby the Barn Cat. Bubby sat on the fencepost by the garden-in-progress and watched me toil through most of the day. Occasionally he jumped down to glide between my feet as I tilled my rows, defying the spinning tines of death in an effort to get me to pick him up and carry him on my shoulder.
Bubby was another of the animals we’d inherited with the farm. Most of the barn cats I’d known in my youth subscribed to the “good mousers should be neither seen nor heard” philosophy. Perhaps having escaped the weighted-burlap-bag-tossed-in-cow-pond fate of most barn kittens, they felt it best not to tempt further human contact.
But Bubby was different. When hewas introduced to us by the previous caretaker’s wife, she’d explained that from the day he mysteriously showed up at the Beekman he’d always been the #1 mouser at the farm. His large size attested to his skills. Back then he wasn’t any friendlier than most barn cats, she told us, but he was the best at his job. He didn’t tolerate anything smaller than a foot long within a 100-yard vicinity of the barn. He was known to sit high in the hayloft door, watching for approaching intruders in the surrounding fields. Within a split second, he’d run down the hay conveyor belt, leap onto the split rail fence, and race down the pasture, reaching his victim before it even knew it was in a war zone. We were pretty sure it was Bubby’s remarkably bright, goldenrod yellow eyes that gave him his super-feline x-ray vision.
Then one evening a few years ago Bubby was struck by a car on the road in front of the house. He survived till morning. The caretaker and his wife spotted him at sunrise dragging himself towards the barn on his front paws. Even with his back legs mangled, Bubby was not going to miss a day of work. They called the Seltzar’s, the Beekman’s previous owners, who instructed them to bring their chief mouser to the vet, and to spare no expense in his treatment and recovery.
Which is how Bubby wound up being perhaps the only barn cat in the world with his hip held together with an intricate patchwork of titanium rods. His nickname was “Bionic Bubby.”
And, as if he knew how fortunate he was, he also returned home from the animal hospital as the world’s most grateful and loving barn cat.
By the time the sun had reached its highest point in the sky on Memorial Day I’d spent three full days working the rough patch of dirt. It probably wasn’t ready for a Martha Stewart Living photo spread yet, but at least I had workable dirt, that could sustain life
“What do you think, Bubs?”
Bubby, perched on my shoulder, carefully surveyed the new garden with me, making sure that I hadn’t unearthed anything mammalian. Along the side of the garden, I’d made one pile for the rocks I raked through, and another pile of all the bones. The bone pile was easily three times as large. I picked up a shovel and scooped them into the wheelbarrow, filling it almost to the point of overflowing. I wheeled it through a broken section of the split rail fence and halfway up the eastern pasture. When I reached a spot 50 yards or so from the garden, I tilted the wheelbarrow sideways, letting the various bones slide out into the deep weeds.
I didn’t know if there was an appropriate catch-all, re-burial service for two hundred years worth of mixed remains of Native Americans, slaves, childhood victims of Scarlet Fever/Consumption/Measles/etc, cows, chickens and horses. But as I took my hands and spread the bone pile more evenly across the springtime pasture I hoped that the past spirits took some solace in my efforts to revive, even on a small scale, a part of what they contributed their lives to years ago.
Now we were a real farm.”