Today I walked into my barn and panicked.
One of my adorable Silver rabbit babies had escaped from his mother and was enjoying his newfound freedom, racing around the floor like a teeny Mario Andretti. This would be a perfectly simple problem that could be solved with a net or a little coaxing, except that I had just brought home a new tomcat about a week and a half ago. This tomcat, whom I dubbed Rowan (Roe for short), was proving to be a first-rate mouser, but I've learned that first-rate mousers also tend to be first-rate bunny killers. I don't blame them, considering it's natural instinct and all that, but that Silver baby is a little young to face death.
I spotted Roe out of the corner of my eye, and quick as a flash he bolted towards the baby. I yelled, "Roe, no!" just as he ... flopped over on his side and let the bunny run all over him. The bunny bolted over him a few times, Roe half-heartedly batted at him, and then gave up to allow himself to become essentially a furry jungle gym. It appears that I don't have a bunny killer after all. I watched this cuteness for about 2 minutes before ruining Baby's day and putting him back in Mom's cage.
Needless to say, Roe got fresh goat milk and a solid petting session this morning.
Roe came to me from a former coworker's house to replace Sam and Tom, our last barn cats. Tom is retired and Sam has since passed, leaving my sister's gray female, Kitty, to take over the barn. Kitty is a terrible mouser, but is great at catching birds, which is no help to anybody. It took my parents some convincing before they finally let me go get Roe – the last straw was finding a mouse swimming in my milk bucket when I came back from putting the goats away. I went and picked Roe up that afternoon and have not seen a mouse since.
Mousing is not Roe's only skill. This weekend my family threw a party for my brother, he just graduated from high school (Woohoo! Go J!), so, naturally, there were toddlers running everywhere accompanying city parents who wish that their little ones could get a nice "farm experience." That experience consisted mostly of little voices screeching, "KITTY! BUNNY! DOGGIE!" Roe was the belle of the ball. He not only tolerated abuse from chubby, tugging fingers and endless kisses, but gave kisses in return. Not a single Roe claw was unsheathed that day. He greeted every family as they arrived, accepted gifts of egg salad and taco meat, and joined in each conversation – quite literally, by sitting under people's chairs and putting in his two cents.
I think sometimes I forget about my four-legged farm hands, because they aren't pets. Roe isn't a pet, he's the tenant in my hay loft. He pays in services, and in turn I feed him far higher quality cat food than any typical barn cat should get. Roe does NOT eat rendered bone meal. We've had a lot of barn cats in the past, and I'm sure we'll have more in the future, but I have a feeling that this little tomcat is going to be welcome for a long time.
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