Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

The Hague (or “Casey Comes to Catville”)

Desirous of spending a few months in Europe, but less-than-desirous of paying Euro-zone prices for food and accommodation, I was looking for options during my 4-month internment in the US.  Through a friend, I ran across a few different sites offering free room & board in exchange for 20-25 hours per week of work.  (The site I used is Help Exchange – http://www.helpx.net/.  Also recommended are http://www.workaway.info/ and http://wwoof.org/, the latter of which is dedicated solely to organic farming.)  In addition to staying in a location for a longer period of time, this would allow me to have a more “local” experience, in addition to saving some money.

I communicated first with a couple of families in Slovenia, knowing I wanted to spend some time there later in the summer.  The couple I was most interested in had just purchased a farm and were in the process of making it into an organic vegetable haven.  After 12 or so emails back and forth, we agreed that I would see them sometime in August or September…at which point they revealed, “By the way, we are fully nude on our farm all day.  We hope you are alright with that.”

Well, first, are you telling me you plow the field, dig the fence posts, and shoe the horses naked?  That just seems like a recipe for a gruesome injury.  Second, you have two small children and you want my stupid ass running around them naked?  Third, why the fuck did you wait until email #12 to reveal that you are nudists?  Isn’t that something you would want to just lay out there up front…you know…just in case people aren’t looking for a naked farming adventure?  I don’t technically have a problem with it, but I am quite suspicious now because you withheld that information for so very long…

Meanwhile…I had created a profile on Help Exchange and mentioned that I was flying into Amsterdam and received an email from a woman asking me if I wanted to stay in Holland for a while.  (Sounds great, as long as it’s not a nudist welding collective.)  I asked her what she had cooking and she sent me a link to her website:  www.abcsavannahcats.eu

I took one look at those cats and emailed her back.  “Hell yes, I’m coming.”  I’m gonna be a motherfuckin cat farmer!!

Just to clarify, I have never had a cat, lived in a house with one, or otherwise had a desire to be close personal friends with one.  I am aware that cats exist.  I know what they look like.  I just never liked them much.  To be honest.

My first day was devoted to meeting the animals:  4 horses, 16 boarded horses, 4 dogs, 6 Savannah cats, 14 boarded cats, and 3 mama Savannahs with a combined 11 kittens (that’s a total of 58, if you lost track).  Standby for Feline Cultural Immersion…

As a side note, after meeting the animals, Karin (my host), Gert Gan (the boyfriend, pronounced “Hair John,” at least by me) and I headed out for dinner where the menu of the day was listed as “Tartare of Angus Beef.”  I say, “goddamn right.”  Turns out, in Dutch that translates to “undercooked hamburger with mushrooms, onions, and cheese on top.”  Still, I’m not picking up the tab…  (But don’t fucking tease me like that!  On my first day??)

I spent the night alone in the house with 21 of the cats, including Francy and her 5 five-day-old babies sleeping in my room.  All of the bedrooms are currently serving as separate kitty nurseries, so I guess I better get used to it?

On day two, we took a trip south to pick up some kittens while I made two entire pages of animal name notes.  Harder than learning Dutch, at this point.  Also, Candy, mother of three-week-old kittens, began dragging them down the stairs by the scruff of the neck during dinner – “Whack.  Whack.  Whack.  Whack…”  I guess that means she’s done with being sequestered upstairs.  I do like self-directed pets, I must say.

On day three, I de-constructed a cat pen in the yard and then laid down for a quick siesta.  Without a shirt.  Important reader note:  DO NOT take a shirtless nap with semi-wild cats living in your room.

The Savannah cats are a custom crossbreed between an African Serval (in the same family as a leopard or cheetah) and a domesticated cat.  The earlier generations (i.e. closer in line to the Serval) are certainly very large, whereas the later generations tend to be more normal in size, but still quite unique in temperament.  I find them to be much more personable and expressive than normal cats…but then this is the first time in my life I’ve really paid any attention to the damn things, so my opinion doesn’t really amount to shit.

And any domestic animal that eats dead baby chickens, raw chicken legs (including the bone), and raw burgerz (no chez, unfortunately) has got to have some sense of style.  Karin told me, “They love steak, but it’s a bit spendy.”  Indeed.

The “last straw” for my vegetarian predecessor was, apparently, finding thawed dead baby chicks in the microwave.  Goddamn, I wish I had been there…

I’m staying a suburb of The Hague and we are only 20 minutes from here to Amsterdam or Rotterdam and 10 minutes to the North Sea.  There is a city tram out the back door, and out the front door is the train station which will take me anywhere in Europe.  This is most certainly a place I could live for a while.

I’m quite pleased with the work exchange experience (shit, I can do just about anything for 20 hours a week) and would certainly do it again.  And I do love the cats, I must say.  (Let’s be clear.  I love these cats.  I do not love your cat.)  I am meeting people, visiting friends, traveling regularly, and Karin takes great care of me.  As long as there are ham & cheese sandwiches, cookies, and wine in the house, how could I complain?

 

4 Responses to “The Hague (or “Casey Comes to Catville”)”

  1. kevin says:

    How big do those guys get? Saturday was the first 90′ day of the year. 87′ today.

  2. Ottke says:

    And how far away is the nearest coffee shop?

  3. How did that kitten taste?

    Absolutely tweeted this post out using the “Tweet” button above, though it gives no sign of the transaction.

  4. Dude that’s a riot…cat farming nudists would have been a prickly one, really enjoyed the blog and laughing still….Thanks , looking forward to more !

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