Tag Archives: Gatsby

Mouse in the house

As it’s a good season here in South Australia with rain, crops and hay so much so that the mice are breeding rapidly. Farming and mice go hand in hand and I dislike it very much. Most farm houses have cats for this reason, they catch the mice, they eat them and keep the numbers down.

Not so much in this farming enterprise, we have 4 cats, they were born feral, by that I mean feral. They were wild and as kittens my husband found them in his header and shed and got the dogs to help catch them. They lived in a cage in the shed on old woollen jumpers / sweater, then they were moved by the hay forks on the tractor to the back porch, then inside as it was a very cold winter. The farmer use to sit there and put his welding gloves on and pick them out of the cage one by one to pat them. They now after 7 years living with us, like the comforts of home, sleeping on beds and chairs.

The fourth cat Gatsby was caught, mid winter cold, starving and on the road, he now also resides inside and his favourite sleeping spot is on the top bunk. He climbs up there and sleeps. But what these four cats do is enter the house through the two cat flaps that my husband has had installed. They bring with them mice, hares, rabbits, the odd bat and reptiles of the lizard kind. They are so well fed they sometimes bring these mice in via their mouths, cough like they have a fur ball and spit the mice out, 8 out of 10 are eaten  and the other two are left to run free…. in my house.

It’s not abating, I had to travel to our major city the other day 300kms where I picked up our reusable shopping bags, left them in the car overnight. I drove to appointments and then at the end of the day without thinking about it, I grabbed them out of the car, put them in the trolley and went about my shopping. I came to the cash register, handed over my bags to the gentleman, started unloading my trolley to hear the cashier saying “ooo, ooo, umm” and as I looked up towards him I could see he was backing away from my bags. I did the eye roll and asked “is there a dead mouse in there?” he turned and looked at me “oh no love, it NOT dead.” he said I walked up to the bag, took it from him and walked it outside the shops. I emptied it into the carpark, watched the mouse run off and went back inside to complete the transaction.

The cashier looked at me and I said “it’s a country mouse and not likely to survive in the city, it’s travelled over 300 km’s to get here. He said “OMG, the last time I saw a mouse my partner saw it and screamed like a girl!’ I laughed and said “I think you nearly did too, didn’t you?” “oh yes, did you notice that?” it was funny as everyone within earshot stepped back as I went to take the bag outside to empty out the mouse. I have no idea how to be rid of them, I wish it wasn’t standard practice in farming hat you need to adapt to them, any ideas how to keep the cats from bringing them in? If you do feel free to let me know.

frank-look-alike-caryying-a-mouse

Today is brought to you by 3am and 4am slaughter hour

The farmer is an animal lover and as such has cats, dogs, cattle, sheep and anything else that comes along. One day he sent me a photo of two baby foxes he saw living in our cattle yards and I banned him from bringing them home. We have a property that has kangaroos and he won’t go out and kill them because they eat minimal crops, he will occasionally shoot predatory birds that peck at baby animals that are being born so other than that most animals are welcomed into our home. I am currently hand rearing 2 calves Rosie & Delila and a Lamb – Josie who now live in my vegetable garden

2015-06-27

We also have the 3 lovely shed cats (called this because he found them in the shed and they now don’t live there) rescued from a freezing winter in 2009, Gatsby (a ginger cat)was rescued 2 years ago this month. All of them are desexed as I didn’t want excess of litters all over the farm and in the cold months of winter (and the hot days of summer) they live inside.

Many a night we have had parades of mice: alive and dead, rabbits: alive and dead birds alive and dead, bats 99% alive, gecko’s mainly alive that we have put outside and frill neck Lizards alive that leave alive as the cats have not worked out how to get through their tough exterior and frill when they protest. Our motto is that if we catch any of these things alive we lock the cats inside and let the animals go free outside.

Many a night I have woken to the sound of crunching and am so none fussed about it now I roll over and go back to sleep. If we hear noises we will get out of bed to try to chase the cats outside with the animal intact. Other times there is a “look at me, look at me” flinging and rolling with the animal (dead) in the spa bath. Where the cat shows us the prey and then eventually the creature is left intact and we are left to clean up the mess.

We have watched as these cats over-estimate their abilities and their prey – the farmer has seen Frankie stalking a kangaroo (as if she was ever going to catch it) we have seen Gatsby jumping in the air to catch swooping birds as if they were going to fly into his mouth, Matilda has on a few occasions stalked the chooks when we use to let them out, the chooks are confined to their pen as the working dogs try to round them up and chase them till they die.

I don’t mind it during the day but in the middle of the night I could do with out it, you know when you have to get up early, you set your alarm and you wake almost hourly hoping you don’t miss it? That was last nigh t and I was back into sleeping when I could hear a growling, at first I asked the farmer to roll over as I thought he was snoring  loudly so he did but the noise got louder and I realized it was coming from his wardrobe.

Bloody Cats fighting in the wardrobe, so I spring out of bed, turn on the lounge room light so as not to blind myself or the farmer but to shine light on the area, open the door and see nothing, I move clothes around to see if I can catch them hiding but I see nothing, so I shut the doors, stoke the fire and as I go to turn off the light I see 3 cats casually walking around the lounge room, squinting at the light with the innocent look of no it wasn’t me, I glare at them as I go to back to bed, it’s 3am. I’m back sleeping when the slow and loud growling starts up again, this time I’m cross I jump out of bed, step on the remote control, stub my toe on a laundry basket I have left in the way, go out to the fire, pick up the poker and come back to the wardrobe and one by one open the doors and thrash it about (hoping I can collect one of these cats as I do it). I look to see Gatsby’s tail disappear out of the wardrobe and run around the corner to get away and Rita slowly slink out heading towards the door. I shut the wardrobe put the poker on the floor and go back to bed, I note it’s now 4am.

Gatsby the only male

Gatsby the only male

Both of these cats go outside and as I drift back to sleep I become aware Gatsby is back in, he has jumped on my foot, shaken himself off as he is as wet as anything and flops down on my bed at my feet. When I do get up at 5am I note Matilda is standing by the wardrobe door, sniffing and I begin to think perhaps the other two were fighting over a late night slaughter. I didn’t have time to check before I left the house and I bet whatever it is will still be there when I get home this evening.

We have a spot I call slaughter corner, where some mornings we can wake up to find no evidence of the animal except a blood stained wall. We occasionally have a kidney or the bottom half of a mouse, if it’s a rabbit sometimes I get the entire gastrointestinal tract with pooh intact. Feathers of a bird are common and is the foot or tail of a rabbit. These can also be found out by the cat flap if they can’t carry it in or in the spa bath if we don’t hear them. Anything and everything is foul and I wish they would stop, once I asked the farmer “what’s with the green feathers in the corner?” without missing a beat he said “I didn’t like that grass parrot anyway!”

I occasionally say to birds, “You all need to live 1km away from the house as these cats will get you if you are closer. I feel exhausted before I even left the farm, getting home tonight will be a bit of a struggle, it is about 220km’s away.

3 cats on the car

3 cats on the car Rita on roof, Matilda in front of steering wheel & Frankie other side

Rain

Rain, Isn’t that a beautiful word? especially when one hasn’t seen it for a while, in our case it is only a matter of some months but in other areas of Australia is means years. No rain for long periods is not only financially destroying, it is also mentally disabling. Farmers de stocking so as to save animals lives and to save the financial burden of feeding them daily to keep them saleable. That is ‘fit for loading’ fit for human consumption’ ‘there is so much criteria one must know in farming and having drought on top of it all makes things difficult.

We have had rain over the last couple of weeks and of the 60mil kind, this has been enough to add tinges of green to our parched paddocks, put some water in dams and freshen up the earth. It has also added a layer of carpet to our chicken coop. It looks beautiful, it actually looks like someone has come in and laid down 3 inch high grass for the chooks to step onto. It has grown so much we have had to clear from the pen opening as it was too high to swing open the gate.

I like to go up and check the chooks daily to ensure they have fresh water, straw, feed and of course to collect eggs. They are great to give scraps to, currently they are eating or pecking at cat food, our four ‘shed cats’ Matilda, Frankie, Rita & Gatsby grew up with the privilege of eating Bully’s Beef prime grass-fed mince and whiska cat nuts, so if we try to give them anything else they will sit next to it and look at us as though we are giving them arsenic. it is quite funny how they do not remember being rescued from the freezing cold of winter 100kms from no where, given warm beds, baskets, food and shelter.

They cats follow me to the chook pen, they run between the rye grass, run up trees and are highly camouflaged due to their colourings. They meow loudly at you and they have occasionally been in the chook pen lolling about waiting to catch the mice that go in there, they are not predators of these largish birds, the dogs and foxes are. Our cats like mice, bunnies, frill neck lizards, but have to date not been able to eat one due to their (the lizards) protection mechanism of hard scaled skin, we have had bats, moths and skinks as well as baby birds, ones I won’t name here as it is distressing to me. our motto is if they get brought in alive and we catch them then they are set free to get away from cats, it is up to them.

Frankie

Frankie

Matilda

Matilda

Chook pen following the rain

Chook pen following the rain

Gatsby

Gatsby

Rita

Rita