November 6, 2010

Cat and Mouse

I don't put cats in the farm-animal-column, but no farm is complete with out a couple of cats to chase the mice. And lord knows we have mice.

The mice congregate in two primary locations: the garage and the barn. The garage has bird food, dried corn-on-the-cob for squirrels and stored fruits and veggies. I know the garage is not the best place to store apples, pumpkins and acorn squash. Our intention is to finish the area under our sun-rooms and turn it into a "root cellar". By finish I mean concrete the floors, insulate the walls and add a door. But for now the garage is the "root cellar." Last year I didn't get the apples well stored from the mice. I went in one day to pick out a couple lovely apples for lunch and found little teeth marks in nearly every one. This fall the apples are in boxes and sitting on pallets. We'll see how that works.

The other gathering place for the mice is the barn. There are lots of great nesting spots - hay, straw, piles of bailing twine, folded up bird netting. And direct access to oats, scratch (corn/barley) and chicken feed. It's like mouse-heaven.

Our two cats are pretty wonderful animals but also wimpy about the weather. During the summer they are always outside. They catch a mouse or mole (yay!) every other day. After playing with their prey for a bit, the cats leave the dead rodent along our walking path from the house to the barn so we are sure to see it. The cats also sit by their conquest and wait for some praise, which we always give. But now the weather is cold and wet. Today, when we got up both cats ran down to the front door. I opened the door and they stood looking out for a few seconds, thought better of it and turned back inside. About 5 minutes later they were curled up by the pellet stove.

Not only do the cats dislike the fall and winter weather, they also want to be warm at night. When we go to bed we turn off the pellet stove, which means the house gets cold. So the cats come into our room and sleep on the bed. I wake up to one cat stretched from my armpit to knee and the other balled up between me and Jeremy. There is no way I can roll over without disturbing their slumber, which I just can't bring myself to do. So I lay, uncomfortably trying to sleep until morning. They better earn they keep in the spring!
Picture taken by my friend and farm-sitter Desiree.

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