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When you live in the country, as most homesteaders do, you share space with a variety of critters. Some more welcome than others.
Take rodents, for example — for the love of all things holy, please take them.
With their sharp teeth and dexterous paws these furry beasts can wreak havoc chewing on home wiring and make huge messes nesting in places in which they have no business. Like an entire car. Readers may remember how a family of field mice rendered my beloved ancient Toyota Camry undriveable last winter after nesting in the trunk, upholstery, vents and engine.
So, into each homesteader’s life a cat or two must come for rodent control.
Over the years there have been dozens of cats who lived happily on Rusty Metal Farm keeping the mouse population under control. And doing so quite effectively.
So I really thought I’d seen it all when it came to cats. Then Reggie arrived.
I wrote of him when about a year after he moved here in 2017. A frail senior cat with half his teeth missing, deaf, patches of fur falling out and a veterinary diagnosis of enlarged internal organs.
He’d been taken off the streets of a nearby town by a local cat rescue group and was in need of a home to spend the remaining months, maybe even weeks he had left.
This is known as “fospice” care, in which a terminally ill companion animal is adopted and fostered in a hospice situation so it can spend those final days knowing love, compassion and comfort.
I’d never fospiced before, but it seemed like the right thing to do.
That was close to two years ago. For better or for worse, apparently I gave Reggie so much love, compassion and comfort that he decided to live. Hell, he decided to thrive.
He is now firmly ensconced as Rusty Metal Farm’s curmudgeon-in-residence. Or, Curmudgeon, Emeritus, if you will.
He is often at my side. Sleeping next to my computer as I work. Sleeping on the back of the sofa as I watch television in the evening. Sleeping on my bed at night. Yeah, he sleeps a lot.
When he’s not sleeping he’s following tiny farm dog Chiclet and me to the pond or around the farm as we hike or do chores. He follows me to the basement when I do laundry and back upstairs when I fold the clean laundry. He supervises my every move when I build fires in the wood furnace during the winter. I can’t count the number of times he’s been trapped in the garage, shop, spare apartment or other rooms after following me in and lagging behind when the doors are shut.
Whenever anyone drives up to the house he meanderes out to inspect their vehicle. He’s especially interested in trailers and will circle anything being towed by a truck sniffing the tires, trailer hitch and back gates before offering his opinion on all of the above.
Lately, he’s taken to visiting my tenant who is renting the apartment over the garage.
Without waiting for an invitation, Reggie will go into the apartment, make himself at home and even help himself to the food meant for my tenant’s English Bulldog.
Eventually, he moseys back over to my place, but not before offering several opinions on the bulldog, the food and life in the apartment.
The other day I looked out to see my tenant, who has a small garden going near the garage, discussing gardening techniques with two friends who also garden.
Right there in the middle of it all was Reggie, inspecting the plants, sniffing the plants and participating in the conversation.
Unfortunately, the one thing in which Reggie is not interested is rodent control.
How could he be? He’s far too busy supervising and commenting on everything else going on around here to be bothered with something as mundane as mousing.
So now I have a trapline of sorts I have to check and bait mouse traps on a regular basis around the house and in my outbuildings.
And, right behind me as I do, is Reggie offering his opinion.