Joy has been working for the past few months creating an outdoor compound in which our kids can play. They used to run free but there have been injuries and some have gone missing. Zot came home with a rattlesnake bite on her hand, Luna came home with a sizable bite out of her tummy, Roadside, Blinky and Luna eventually never came home. It's too much. We don't like keeping them cooped up, it's not their natureespecially the Bengals, but the alternative in these wild surroundings is just too serious.
We have Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Foxes, Raccoons and Great Horned Owls living on our mountain. I wrote a series of posts on my blog a few years ago when a Mountain Lion and her cubs were feeding on a deer that she had chased onto our property. Cool, not so much for the deer, but pretty scary for us who happened to see eyes glowing in the flashlight beam one night; large eyes, far apart. Nature is close. We need to keep our kids closer.
The KittEnclosure has been growing and expanding, all the while being perfected as far as escape prevention is concerned. Zot has shown herself to be quite the artist in this regard. Figure you've got everything secure and, poof, she's gone again; only to arrive on the fence outside the studio where she sits to get our attention when she wants to come in. Clever girl.
Her partner, Moe, is as single-minded and driven as they come in pushing the envelope. When she gets out, she comes home at dusk, like she always has, but she goes so far away and across the road, that it's a worry. Sometimes, she comes home without her collar and we have to go find it; usually in someone else's yard caught on a fence or a bramble bush. Thought we had the exit avenues all plugged, as there haven't been any escapes for a while, but she got out yesterday. Fixed another hole, this one on the tree trunk up above the Branch Bridge. The cameras, seen below, are how we learned of her exit strategy.
Joy wanted to connect the original enclosure with the corral that sits between it and the house. A couple of ladders and ramps were tried but weren't successful. No one would get on them. Then I got an idea about a tower that they could climb to reach a large branch that extends over the corral from an oak that stands in the enclosure. This branch has been the primary escape route for a few of the kids and we decided that, rather than try to prevent them from getting to it, which was never very successful, it would just be best to make it a path to a destination. Heck, everybody knows where it is and that it goes somewhere fun.
I modeled up the tower, so Joy could see what I was thinking about and she built it. It's platforms are fastened to a 2x6 standing on stilts and is attached at the top to the branch with a swivel bracket to allow movement when the wind blows.
With this in place, the only thing missing was a way to get the kids in and out on their own, instead of us carrying them every day, a few times a day. We figured out a drawbridge that crosses the walkway that can be lifted up if we need to move some big and/or heavy stuff from the garage. It connects to a covered bench that leads from the cat door in the coldworking studio window. It has a gate that closes off the pathway to the KittEnclosure if we want to limit them to only the bench as the Sun begins to set.
Now the house, the corral and the KittEnclosure are all connected and the kids go in and out and over the bridge all on their own; some many times a day. Toothless hasn't quite figured out the Tower/Bridge thing yet. If he is placed in the KittEnclosure, that's where he stays. He likes that area best. If he goes out the door, he spends the day pacing: through the corral, pining through the fence at the KittEnclosure, back inside, through the house, back out to the corral, pine at the fence, back into the house.... Seems to be looking for a way to his favorite spot. He's watched Carbon go up the Tower but just doesn't connect the dots. He's a special needs boy.
We began mounting a set of IP cameras in order to monitor how they are doing out there and enjoy the fun while working. People began hearing about the project and it seemed that streaming video of the kids out there would be a good idea. The KittEnclosure is extensive and is filled with plants and trees. It's pretty difficult to make out what is where in the videos when you aren't familiar with the layout. I was going to make a map, and probably still will, but I thought that a walkthrough might be a good start. The actors cooperated and made it pretty entertaining; though they don't take direction well. We hope you enjoy it.
It's shot in 1280x720, so the sharpest view is to go Full Screen then click the View Actual Size button. Full Screen gives a better sense of being here, but it's slightly softer if you have a 1920x1080 monitor.
There'll be periodic streaming of live feeds from the three cameras on Livestream.com/BengalMania. Follow us and you'll be notified when one will be starting. After each feed is completed, they will be archived there for viewing any time.
We're also posting higher resolution versions to our Vimeo Collections: Vimeo.com/BengalMania.
These usually cover longer time periods and are edited to take out stretches of inactivity when the kids are taking a siesta.
The first of these can be enjoyed on its own page.
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