Never feed feral animals or traveling men

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Hi neighbors. Itís a beautiful day in Nevada! Spring is here; we have no snow although still some frosty mornings. Robins are here from the south. Squirrels are awake and chirping like mad. The neighborhood cottontail is making its rounds through backyards in at least a four-block area each day. Iíve nicknamed it Hopper and it will come to within four feet of me, although usually by mistake.

Although we have no regular neighborhood feral dogs, there are several indoor/outdoor cats in my little community. The two I know best are Patches and Saddlebags ó named after the black markings on their white backs and sides. I do not know their real names and canít really tell which neighbor might claim them. I have seen them begging at every door last year and had even seen their footprints in the snow on my porches this past winter.

Iíve always fought the temptation to put out food for them, but I do watch to make sure they are going in and out of some neighborís house each evening.

After years of living a life of service to many domestic and feral cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, goats, chickens, pigs, an infant raccoon, guineas, snakes, fish, box turtles (aka terrapins), finches, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, pigeons, lizards, mice and one rat, I am determined to stop being Miss Handouts of the block.

My mother always said never feed feral animals or traveling men as they get used to depending on your handouts instead of working for their own living. My mother was raised during the Great Depression and has often told stories of her family sharing meager supplies with ďtraveling menĒ meaning those ďhobosĒ who went from town to town looking for work. Those men were usually hard-working family men forced to travel away from home to find jobs to support their families. She never disparaged those men who found themselves traveling by necessity.

She explained she was referring to men who chose not to keep the same job for years and years, not to put down roots and not to settle into contemporary lifestyles. She called them social drifters. In my day, we called them Hippies. Now they are more likely your average citizen here in America.

Thank goodness we can choose our lifestyle here in this great country. Today there are few incentives to work at the same job for decades. Pensions are poor bets and often only a mortgage can keep anyone in one town for long. Many jobs are simply jobs and not planned careers, with little chance of advancement and poor incentives. Most people only hold down jobs for insurance and money to cover the bare necessities of daily life. These employees are always looking for a better job or a better climate. Who can blame them?

The work ethic I grew up with of finding a job and staying with it for 40 years then retiring from it doesnít fit our lifestyles anymore. Many employers donít stay in business for 40 years and most donít have long-term employees who have been with the company for more than 10 years.

I donít judge anyoneís lifestyle. Looking back from the security of my retirement status, I think sometimes the looser look at employment might be better. Donít get me wrong, if I hadnít stayed with my own career choice for 31 years I wouldnít have my pension payment each month now.

Still, not getting into the harness with one employer right away might have been an option most of us didnít have before the landslide of fast foods, open 24-hours-a-day convenience stores, better roads and more reliable vehicles. Before, when being unemployed was a catch-phrase for frantically dependent; when young adults didnít have to go to college to get a good job or to start a career and before they started looking for a career already thousands of dollars in debt because of those years in college, life was less complicated.

Often there was a family business established where a child could anticipate a steady job when they got out of high school.

If America wants our young adults to compete with those of other countries, higher education needs a lot of reforms so students of all incomes can attend without a life of debt for their trouble. Either that or change our attitudes about work, education and career choices. The 60s lifestyles werenít so bad were they? At least not for the hippies.

Which brings me back to wild rabbits and feral cats. No. Iím still convinced Iíll keep a protective eye out for them, but Iím not feeding them.