I’ve given a little love to both the bunnies and the goats on this blog already, so I figured I’d dedicate a post to the two animals who are the longest-standing tenants at the Red Barn: RC and Xena!
We’ll start with the gentle, old King of the White Barn, RC (a.k.a. Rafter Cat). RC was actually born on the Red Barn property, and has lived here for all 14 years of his life. The O’Neal family used to own the White House that the Barn recently acquired after Debby moved out, and I’ve been best friends with Joy’s son Jared since we were in preschool. Through that friendship, I visited the White House and its accompanying barn plenty when I was younger. Perhaps my most vivid memories of those visits are playing with a litter of kittens that had been born to a pair of barn cats inhabiting the upper barn.
Amazingly, nearly 15 years later, one of those kittens is still kicking. RC has seen a lot of change through his lifetime, including the entire development of the Red Barn property. But he has remained the same old sweet cat through it all. He tends to be the first animal to greet us every morning, running up and meowing until we refill his food. During stand-up, which is what we call our post-lunch planning period for afternoon lessons, RC affectionately strolls from person to person, bumping his head against their hands and occasionally crying out for attention.
He’s gotten friendlier with students as well. When I first came to the Barn, he usually hid away in the hay room except during morning and evening feed. But now he enjoys laying out in the hallway and purrs whenever a kid stops to pet him. He still loves alone time and napping on hay bales, but he’s adjusted and leads a happy life in a busy barn.
Xena (a.k.a. the Warrior Princess), on the other hand, barely needed any sort of adjustment to this type of life. She was originally adopted from the Humane Society four and a half years ago to live as a barn cat down in the red house area. A student went with Joy to pick out the cat, and he was drawn to Xena. He ended up carrying her like a rag doll, and amazingly Xena had absolutely no qualms. In fact, she was purring and seemed happy to be receiving any sort of attention at all. That sold us on adopting her.
Xena still loves attention. Whenever we have a tour or work group around she makes sure to greet everyone and that she is smack dab in the center of whatever is happening. She’ll even jump the fence into the goat pen if it means she might receive a bit of affection from a crowd of people. She can be a bit finicky, and I think anyone who has loved on Xena a few times has received at least one of her warning nips. But generally she is one of the sweetest cats I’ve been around. It takes a little time to learn her sweet spots and where not to pet her (she especially hates having her belly touched). Plus, she usually follows of those little nibbles with a lick, as if she was apologizing for acting out.
So if you ever see either of the cats roaming the Barn, feel free to love on them to your heart’s content. They want that more than anything else in the world, and will gladly offer their own love in return if you’re patient with them!