from sky to seed

For “green” rodent control, turn to barn cats

Ever since Pax and I shacked up with Jon, away went the rat poison he kept scattered in dark corners of every building he owned. It’d be nice to have the kind of life that didn’t require rat poison, but we don’t. We’ve got hay that rats and mice like to live in, and wires and cables that they like to chew. They just about destroyed the lawnmower engine last winter.

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It’d also be nice to be the kind of people who don’t really have a problem emptying mouse traps (snap! squeeee!), but we aren’t. We really aren’t. The only one who hates killing things more than me is Jon. He recently brought home a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. Poor little thing didn’t make it through the night.

So Jon just can’t say no. When a buddy of his confessed to finding feral kittens in his shed, Jon said, “Bring ’em over to the barn!” and he did. Two of them. Even though we’ve already got a barn cat. And two house cats.

So then there were five.

Five. Three in the barn, two in the house. Five.

Jon figures that if you figure up the cost of rodent exterminators and damaged equipment, he owes our one barn cat, whose name is Barn Cat One or BC1 for short, several thousand dollars. She prowls every corner of the barn for intruders and does a fine job ripping heads off snakes and scaring off skunks, too. She goes completely berserk when dogs near her cat food, which she only uses as a supplement to her primary diet of rats, mice, snakes… you get the picture. Ever since we got BC1, collectively the guys have only seen one mouse. She’s not pretty like Emmy Lou the Maine Coon, but she’s a worker. So the basically worship her. She is basically our barn’s best friend.

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She’s tough and a bit of a loner. She’ll slide up against your ankles but bristles against being picked up and she has absolutely no interest in sitting on your lap. After I got her spayed, I tried bringing her into the house for her recovery but she was really unhappy.

“She misses the barn,” Jon explained. “That’s her home.”

City mouse that I am, I just assume all animals want their plush orthopedic beds and squeaky toys. Farm life teaches me otherwise, though I still wrestle with my own desires to basically love animals into submission. Some don’t want my love. They just want you to treat their basic medical needs (for the love of God please get your animals fixed), deliver their cat food, pet them upon request, and leave them alone to do their work–must like most living creatures on a cattle farm. So in a sense, Barn Cat One is a cowboy. Well, cowgirl. Hopefully she trains our new wee additions, BC2 and BC3, to follow her lead.

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But still.

Five cats! He called last night to say he’d be late and asked what I was up to and I said, “Playing with the cats.”

He laughed and said, “Lordy. We’ve got five of them. That’s not good.”

“I know,” I said.

“We’re turning into cat people,” he said.

Maybe that’s not so bad. Not really.

2 Responses to “For “green” rodent control, turn to barn cats”

  1. Wanda

    BC1 is BEAUTIFUL! Hope she accepts BC2 & BC3 and teaches them everything she knows!!

    Reply
    • Rose

      Thank you! She was a bit tough on them at first but they seem to think of her as a surly auntie who will eventually come around if they give her enough careful love.

      Reply

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