Over the past few days, I've noticed the barn cats have been spending a lot of time in the chicken pen, sniffing around, going in and out, joining me in egg gathering chores, and being somewhat annoying. In fact, the yellow tom, who so affectionately twines himself around and between my legs as I walk out to the chicken pen, abandoned me upon our arrival in the hen house and parked himself on top of the old cabinet and stared at the wall.
The old cabinet is one we took down from the laundry room. Last spring, I moved it out to the chicken house hoping my broody hens would use it instead of the nesting box as a hatchery. The hens hate it and ignore it. But, it's been a handy shelf for me to store feeders and such on it; so I left it sitting on the floor.
Last night, Tom took his spot on the cabinet and again, stared behind it. I am nothing but helpful, and moved it while asking Tom, "Do you think there's a tasty mouse behind that cabinet?"
There wasn't a mouse behind the cabinet.
There was a nest of mice under the cabinet; a mouse village, home to newborn through geriatrics in one small location.
I managed not to scream, or run from the building. Instead, I yelled to Tom, "Get them, get them." And then I stepped out (while making sure no slimy mouse ran across my feet) and hollered, "Here kitty, kitty, free supper. Extra protein! Come and get it, tasty tidbits of Mice."
Four cats came running. And they had a heyday. Baby mice are a nice snack, just grab and swallow. Teenage mice are stupid, and easily caught. They're a nice size to play with as well. Older, more experienced mice make a mad dash up the walls, or across the floor. Making the hunt more fun for the cats.
Each and every hunter was rewarded with at least one mouse. Cutie came in and caught one, but took it outside and gave it to the teenage cats instead of eating it herself. Some mice the cats quickly killed and let the chickens dine on them. I like that, cats and chickens working together. Of course, the lucky hens with mice were chased around by other hens who wanted a taste...quite comical.
I did shovel out some of the babies, and I know that some of the mice successfully evaded capture. I know this because after 20 minutes of watching the massacre...I mean smorgasbord...I had to forcibly remove two cats out of the chicken house. They were stalking the grain barrel; tails twitching, but I was ready to close the restaurant and put the chickens to bed.
I'll let them back in tonight and we just might have a repeat hunt. Only tonight...I'll make sure that more cats join me and let them in the chicken house before they eat the dry catfood.