The Farm on Oak Creek

The Mouse Loses

I took the full four days of the “Thanksgiving Holiday” off.  That meant I only handled my usual daily and weekend chores: feeding and moving birds, milking the cow, making cheese and yogurt, cleaning the coops, washing the waterers, moving bales of hay (apparently they weigh 100 pounds but someone forgot to tell me that so I’ve been moving them without thinking about it). It was an easy weekend without all my usual website work, kindle book coding and writing.  I really didn’t have much of a choice.  There was a really deep cut in the tip of my “I, K, comma” finger and it needed time to heal.  Typing is much more pleasant today. Just so you know, there aren’t as many words with the vowel “I” in them as there are words with “E” but there were still way too many for me to manage.

Before I get to the mouse story, I’m going to update you all on the Hannah weaning process.  I lost. I now know why dairy folk take the calves off their moms right away and choose to bottle feed, something I shudder at the thought of doing. Three weeks of keeping mom and baby apart and nothing has changed.  Hannah still rushes straight for Elsie’s teats at the first opportunity.  In fact, she’ll even put her head through the corral fence, twisting her neck to an uncomfortable angle, and suckle away.  I got tired of the constant bellowing and all the stress, so I decided I’d let them be together for a few hours each day.  This means Hannah has the opportunity to nurse from 1 PM to 3:30 PM every day and that I have to milk Elsie at a frigid 7:00 in the morning.  However, it seems that the artificial insemination took and Elsie is pregnant, and that really was my overall goal for weaning Hannah.  So now Elsie gives me 1.5 gallons a day, which means plenty of yogurt, cheese and hot chocolate.  Like raising kids, I decided I just need a little more patience.  Most likely, Elsie will be tired of Hannah in a few more months and by then we’ll be out of winter and onto good grass again.  More importantly, I’ll have had a few months to get my electric tape fences reinstalled and have more options for keeping them apart.

Back to the mice.  Because I had so much extra time in my day this weekend, I ended up cleaning up the hay storage area.  I’m expecting another hay delivery soon and I really wanted to rearrange the bales.  This means mice and mice means Moosie.  That dog doesn’t discriminate.  He’ll hunt anything: big, small, water-dweller, land mammal, bird, he doesn’t care.  I think he especially enjoys the mice because they’re so small and so quick.  A real challenge to catch.  The minute he realizes I’m moving bales, there he is, his tail wagging and his nose pressed to the ground, waiting for the first one to appear.  Trust me, they never disappoint him, or the three hunting cats who spend a good part of their time down there.  And, as I’m sure everyone knows, the good Lord provides more mice in the hay than three cats, one dog and now forty turkeys can eat.

Sure enough, the minute I lifted the pallet (it was definitely time to clean–it was hard to tell it was a pallet, what with so much grass crammed into its spaces), a little gray rocket exploded out from beneath it.  Moosie was off, back legs windmilling as he clambered over me and my pitchfork, hot on the trail.  The mouse darted under the corrugated roofing that serves as stall siding.  Almost as quickly, Moosie slithered under the pipe fencing gate.  Up on his hind legs he went and pounced, just like a cat.

Then he snorted.  The mouse had him by the nose.  He shook his head.  A small gray missile shot across the corral toward the clutch of turkeys who were suddenly on the alert. As I just mentioned, turkeys, like Roadrunners, aren’t adverse to eating small and tasty mammals.  Unlike the Blue Heron, the turkeys draw the line at gophers.

Moosie darted across the corral, snatched the rodent by the tail and tossed it into the air.  As the mouse returned to earth, the dog was on him again…and again, Moosie snorted as he got his comeuppance from his prey. This time when he shook his head, trying to remove the mouse from his nose, he sent the little critter flying back to the stall where it landed right in front of a little red hen.  She’s no fool.  She snatched what for her was more than a full meal, and gave the rodent a quick shake.

By this time, Moosie had joined her in the stall.  He reached down toward the tail hanging out of her mouth.  Dog or not, she wasn’t about to give up her prize.  She feinted one way. That took Moosie by surprise.  He’s not used to uncooperative chickens.  They usually scatter when he gets close to them.  This one simply turned her back on him, making that chirping sound that chickens make when they’ve found something they’re really looking forward to eating.

Moosie wasn’t ready to give up.  He came at her with–I swear I’m not making this up–an outraged “Hey that’s mine!” look on his face. The hen didn’t care.  Killer dog or not, she took off, burrowing under this bit of fence and around that bale.  That mouse was hers.

Still laughing, I called Moosie back as he started after her.  He came reluctantly, but then I started to pick up the next pallet.  His tail begin to wag and down went his nose. Sure enough, another mouse dashed across my shoe and he was off.


© Denise Domning, 2023