As you know, we've got goats and chickens.
Well, I suppose I should have assumed this, but it was a news flash--
if you have goats and chickens, you'll also have rats.
That might make sense, but it's unacceptable to me.
But any extermination methods I could think of might exterminate the wrong animal.
What to do, what to do?
Enter the barn cat.
I did some research and called our local humane society. They assured me that even in our predator-filled Northwest woods, certain cats make great outdoor/barn cats, as long as they have shelter to return to, are fed and given fresh water, and kept up-to-date on shots and deworming. They even have a "Barn Cat Adoption Program".
Well, the word adoption gets me every time and we quickly filled out an application and waited for our referral. Actually two referrals because they prefer to place two cats per barn to form a mini-pack.
Now, these cats are in the barn cat adoption program rather than the lovey-dovey house cat adoption program for a reason. They generally don't like people and are in the "feral" or "semi-feral" category. I told the nice man at the humane society that we have a 2nd story loft in our barn and I didn't want to walk in every morning, fearing that a tasmanian devil cat would leap onto my head. I wondered if we could possibly get a rat-killing machine that wasn't also possessed?
He assured me that he could find us "social" barn cats, which I took to mean, "just a little bit crazy".
I was hopeful that the wait for this referral would be less than the waits we've had for other referrals and would involve fewer governmental hoops.
And then, before we could be matched, we found cat #1 through Craigslist.
The Humane Society is still looking for cat #2.
Our new barn cat was a stray, living outside, happy outside,
but also happy to get a pat on the back and a rub behind his ears.
He's not crazy at all, something I'd come to accept, at least in small measure, as an inevitable part of the barn cat package.
Since he's lived outside, hopefully he's a savvy fighter,
but since he's been around people, he knows they're not the enemy.
And he's active as all get-out, which will hopefully mean a decrease in the rat population.
If I was a rat, I'd be scared right now.
The humane society suggested we keep him confined to the barn for 2 weeks, giving him food and lots of attention, so he knows this is home.
The night before we got him, we talked about names.
Cholita came up with one that we all deemed perfect.
We pictured one of our barn rats, standing on a hay bale, addressing his fellow rodents:
"In a way, all of us have an El Guapo to face.
For some rats, shyness may be their El Guapo.
For others, lack of education may be their El Guapo.
But for us, El Guapo is a big mean cat who wants to kill us."
So, El Guapo it is.
And he is rather handsome, don't you think?