Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pepper the barn cat

Unlike most farms around here, we don't have a dozen or more cats. Why? Because we have Patches the queen of the felines, and even though she is nine years old now, she still keeps other cats from calling our place home when they get dumped in the country. However, I realized last year that she was really not into the job of hunting and killing mice any longer. How did I realize this? Because our barn had a mouse problem worse than I had ever seen! And when Patches would see a mouse, she would just ignore it!

So, in spite of her highness's opinion on the matter, I called a farmer friend and asked if they had any extra cats. Of course, they did! My only request was that they be males so that they could be more cheaply neutered than a female. Although most farmers don't neuter barn cats, I do because (a) it means they will stay here rather than roaming, and (b) they won't die from disease or fighting other cats or being eaten by a coyote when they're roaming, and (c) it just takes too long to train new kittens to do the job, and I know that as long as Patches is alive, she won't let any come here to live.

You're probably wondering how I managed to over-ride her highness's objection to the new cats. Well, they spent last winter in the barn office, so they were here, and Patches could smell them, and she even saw them a time or two. By the time they actually came face-to-face, she didn't object much. I would say that she's mellowing in her old age, but we still haven't had any stray cats show up, so I'm not betting on her mellowing.

This little guy is Pepper, pictured here with Lucy our livestock guardian.

His partner in mouse control is Salt, whom I will introduce you to later. Both of them are super sweet and lovable ... and deadly if you happen to be a mouse.


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