Ever since we moved in here I’ve been saying we needed to get a barn cat to help keep the mice in check. Even before the house was built, I was certain we would have problems because as I was clearing the land and cutting the brush and undergrowth the path in front of my tractor would almost look like the ground was boiling with all the mice and other vermin scattering in fear of death by power shredder. Since I cleared off most of their cover and food supplies I wasn’t all that surprised when they moved into the garage to gorge on the chicken feed and anything else not securely enclosed in metal containers.
Not being all that partial to cats I tried trapping. At first it looked like success because I was averaging half a dozen mice a day and didn’t think they could last much longer at that pace. However, I was wrong. The mice turds kept piling up, and the mice who had survived had apparently figured out how to avoid the traps. The final straw was finding a rattlesnake in the garage.
Now, the environmentalists will tell you that you shouldn’t kill rattlesnakes because they are highly effective at keeping rodent populations under control. While that may be true in a strict sense of the word, it seems to me to be about as accurate as saying that burning down the house is an effective strategy to prevent it from being burglarized. If I have a choice between venomous serpents and disgusting rodents, the furry critters win. Luckily, snakes aren’t the only things that eat mice, and some of the alternatives are a whole lot cuddlier and less poisonous.
One thing we’ve found out here in the country is that there isn’t a shortage of free cats. A friend of ours connected us with a lady nearby who had been feeding a large collection of feral cats out of pity, and wouldn’t mind getting rid of a few of them. A couple of them had even been “fixed” so we wouldn’t need to worry about any more little kitties floating around. Sounded like a deal to me, so we went over to check things out.
Round one: We only managed to lay hands on one of them, because as soon as we got one, the rest caught wind of what we were doing and took off. That was okay, one was a start, so we took him home. Within 24 hours, it had taken off to who knows where. Apparently it didn’t like our dog, or kids, or food, or whatever.
Round two: Thinking it might have gone “home” just a few miles from our house, we went back to the cat lady a few days later to see if he’d shown up. Nope. “That’s okay,” she told us, “there are plenty more where that one came from,” and this time she had a plan for catching more than just one and was convinced they would stay better if there were two to keep each other company. A few minutes later we had two more friendly and cuddly demonstrated mouse killers in the truck. Thinking it may take a day or so to acclimate, we kept these two in a crate for a day to help them get the idea. As soon as we opened the door, they were gone. I saw one cross the road from one field to another the next morning, but he never came back.
Round three: We gave up on the cat lady’s cats. I didn’t have the heart to tell her we lost two more. However, one of Liz’s friends volunteers as a “friend” of the local animal control, and had two lovely cats who were looking for a home. As I sat here originally drafting this post, it had been a couple days, one cat was perched behind me taking a nap, and the other was running around with the dog playing. These ones looked like they planed on staying and didn’t seem to mind the aggressive three year old too much, or the dog that thinks they are a self-mobile chew toy.
In the time it’s taken me to take a picture and download it, one of the two new cats (named Jane Eyre) has wandered off. It kept trying to come inside and seems to have gotten miffed when it didn’t get to follow the dog inside. All we are left with is Mr Rochester shown in the picture above. After two days of waiting Jane hasn’t come back. Maybe she’s just trying to play out the story of Jane and Mr Rochester and will come back after his crazy wife burns down the house, kills herself, and leaves Mr Rochester blind. Wouldn’t that be dreadful?
Hopefully the one remaining is good at killing mice.
As a side note, any and all cats we happen to feed are OUTSIDE cats. I hate litter boxes almost as much as I hate snakes.