While writing “Ellsworth, that’s my name”, this line popped into my head: Exploring the backyard has never been this much fun.
As a kid, I loved exploring my backyard. The older I got, the farther I explored. But I never lost interest in my backyard. It was large. It had small outbuildings with neat stuff: my father’s tools for carpentry and mechanics, my mother’s gardening tools, and our bikes, Krazy Karpets, baseball bats, hockey sticks and everything else we played had fun as kids.
Besides that, there were trees for climbing, mud for getting our bikes stuck in and bushes to hide in when playing hide-and-seek. On two sides, we had neighbours, who would sometimes pop in with their kids (our friends) and their dog when they had one.
Then there were the toads, salamanders, snakes, rabbits and other critters that lived in or near our yard. I basically had a wildlife park in my backyard.
Ellsworth’s yard isn’t as big as mine was, but there’s still lots to explore, especially when he’s too young to venture away from the yard.
I have a new project! It’s been a few years in the making. Quarter Castle Publishing has accepted the manuscript. I’ll keep you update during the process.
While writing this story, I was putting coloured pencils to paper and dreaming about what Ellsworth might look like. Here’s a playful cover I made one day. It’s not the actual cover of the book. Just something that came one day while thinking about the story.
I still love to draw and colour. I am far from an expert, but that doesn’t matter. It’s fun, relaxing and very creative. It helps me think. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a story line, I colour or draw, and the line pops in my head.
As you may have guessed, my next book is called “Ellsworth, that’s my name.
The main character in Throw Away Kitten, Charlie McBean, has had the same dream for years: to have a golden kitten of his very own. For now, he sleeps with a stuffed golden kittie.
When he visits his new neighbour for the first time, he and his sister Cavell see a car stop at the end of the driveway and leave something behind. Here’s what happens.
A weird noise came from the bushes where the stranger from the car had placed the item. Charlie was certain it wasn’t a goat. It was too screechy to be Gracie. He and Cavell reached the front of the bushes and found a closed box. Suddenly it moved, making both of them jump back.
“It’s alive!” cried Cavell.
“Boxes can’t be alive. Little sisters,” he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. He leant forward and listened. The same screechy noise he heard earlier came from inside.
“Why would anyone give Mr. Hoffman a screeching box?” asked Cavell.
“It might be an animal for the farm,” said Charlie, feeling proud for thinking up the idea. “Maybe it’s a baby.”
“A baby! Who’d put a baby in a box.” She scrunched up her nose. “Why would Mr. Hoffman want a baby?”
He shrugged his shoulders and pulled open the flap on the brown box. Inside were four kittens: one golden coloured, one grey and two black.
“This is a surprise!” said Cavell.
This is the surprise Charlie has always wanted. While there were four kittens in that box, only one of them captured his attention and had the potential to fulfill his dreams.
We’ve all heard the stories: goats eat everything. When you own a goat, you quickly learn this isn’t true. In fact, they’re picky eaters. That’s not to say they won’t taste everything but once the taste test is done, they often choose not to eat whatever they’ve nibbled on.
A scene in Throw Away Kitten reveals what goats eat and what they won’t eat when Charlie McBean and his younger sister, Cavell, visit their new neighbours and learn they have goats.
Throw Away Kitten
He sat on the stool and looked over the goat. It was watching him as if it wanted to eat his hat. He had read a book about a goat stealing a man’s hat and eating it. This goat couldn’t reach his while it stood in the milking stand. Just the same, he took off his hat and gripped it tightly.
“Goats are fairly simple animals,” said Maudie. “They like to eat grass and clover and a lot of other green plants such as fir trees. Your Christmas tree is a fir.”
“Your goat is going to eat our Christmas tree?” Charlie stared wide-eyed.
She chuckled. “Not unless you invite her into your house, but you’d have to be careful. The tinsel will make her sick.”
“Do they like spinach?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I suppose they might. I’ve never fed it to them. They like apples and corn and chives. They’ll eat it right out of your pocket.”
“Do they eat hats?” He pulled his closer.
“No, that’s just stories people tell. Goats won’t eat everything, but they do like to taste a lot of things.” She reached under the goat and put her hands on the two dangly things on the goat’s belly. “These are called teats. They’re attached to the udder.”
A shadow leapt from a dark corner of the barn and landed on the floor near Charlie’s feet. “Ah! What’s that?” The dark animal rubbed against his leg, and he looked down to find a black and brown cat. It meowed, then leapt onto the milking stand.
“Ranger, you silly cat,” said Maudie. “Stop terrifying the new neighbours.” She glanced at Charlie. “This old tom thinks he owns the place. The goats don’t pay him any mind.”
Goats as Pets
Goats are neat pets. They love to play and frolic, and they can be trained just like dogs. In fact, I read goats are the nearest to next thing to dogs when it comes to pets. The bonus is they eat grass, weeds and bushes, and their manure is great for the garden.
Many years ago when I was in my teens, my brother found kittens in a small out building on farm property that had been abandoned years before when the elderly couple died. The mother, probably a stray, gave birth in the building and while she was off hunting or prowling, my brother stumbled upon the kittens while pick berries nearby. The kittens were crying out, perhaps hungry, and this was what drew him to this small building that was only four-feet square.
The golden striped kittens were no more than a few days old and tumbled around on new legs. When they saw my brother, they recoiled and hissed with the vigour a wee one could muster. My brother stepped back, fearful of being injured. He tried again to pick them up and bring them home but once more, the kittens hissed and scared him off.
That’s where I came in. I was home, helping one of my other brothers fix his car. When my younger brother showed up and told the story about the hissing kittens, I volunteered to take a look. We walked back the dirt road to the farm and found the kittens just where he’d last seen them. The mother was nowhere in sight, and the two kittens indeed looked very hungry.
“Watch it,” warned my brother. “They’ll hiss.”
Sure enough, they did hiss when I got near, and they hissed louder when I reached for one of them. The hissing stopped when I held it in my arms and patted it. I scooped up the other one and tucked it in close with its sibling.
We took them home where Mom said they couldn’t stay. Then she noticed how hungry they were and went for the milk. Mom never could turn away anyone—man or beast—if it was hungry. Between the three of us, we fed the kittens. Afterwards, we fixed up a home for them in a box in the shed where they were taken care of – mostly by Mom.
We returned to the old farm several times to see if we could find the mother, but we never saw any cats on the property. Perhaps she had abandoned the kittens or was killed.
We found a home for them, but the woman who came to pick them up said she only wanted one because the other one looked sickly. That sickly one stuck around and in a few short weeks, it was healthy and strong. It was an outdoor cat as Mom was allergic to animals. It lived in the shed in a box with a warm blanket, and it came and went as it pleased through the cat door. Food and water was provided and when it came to the front door of the house, it was often given a treat of fresh fish or cooked chicken.
Abandoned kittens are not new and not all of them find good homes like these hissing kittens. Stories like this and those I’ve heard since inspired me to write Throw Away Kitten.
Kittens are great fun. They love to play, chasing string, plastic mice and whatever else you drag behind you. They love to cuddle and curl into your side when they’re tired. Kittens also have adorable faces with big eyes that make me giggle.
Everyone loves kittens.
Sometimes however, kittens are unwanted, and the person owning them can’t give them away or they don’t even try to find homes for them. Unfortunately they leave them on the side of the road or in the woods, surely hoping they’ll survive on their own.
The sad truth is kittens can’t survive on their own. Many die from exposure or injuries from larger animals.
My upcoming novel Throw Away Kitten is about a litter of kittens that is left at the end of a driveway with the hope the farmer who lives there will take them in. Charlie and Mya discover the kittens and accept the challenge of finding new homes for them.
I’m Candy McMudd. I write stories for children of all ages. Sometimes my books are great for beginner readers, others are better for readers who have been reading for a few years. Psss, and sometimes, big kids read my little kid books just because they love a great story.
Stick around. I’m just starting this website, and I plan to do a lot of fun, crazy things here.