The Circle of Life: The Other Side of the Story

We have received many messages on our board about my recent mouse blog, and we thank you all for caring so much about the cleanliness issues, but we want to assure you that we have a very clean barn, “clean enough,” says Susanna, “that were the Queen of England were to drop by for an unexpected visit, ‘ all we would have to do is neaten our hair. But we do have mice. Most barns do. But fortunately no horse or person at the MMSC has every gotten sick from one, and yes, we are constantly experimenting with ways to diminish if not banish the population.

We used to have cats. But our wonderful feline friends urinated in the barn and defecated on the hay in the loft leaving putrid smells and heaps of excrement to clean up. Not only that, our turnover rate was pretty high: Cats regularly “ran away” from our barn never to be seen again which caused us to replace them regularly with newly spayed, neutered, and vaccinated animals from a local shelter. Animals typically do not leave places where they receive food and shelter, but coyotes do roam the area and no doubt have enjoyed a meal of cat courtesy of the MMSC! We found that keeping the coyotes in good flesh was getting expensive!

We tried poisons and traps, noise makers that drive mice away and humane live traps, but as winter draws closer, so do the mice. At whit’s end, Susanna was ready to go the cat route again, despite the aforementioned drawbacks as well as a new impediment : One of our star volunteers is deathly allergic to cats which meant that she would no longer be able to be part of our MMSC family if felines took up residence in the barn. Fortunately, God had other plans.

When we leave the barn every day, it is left immaculate, aisles swept, Pinesol spread on the floor, dust and cobwebs gone. Everything tucked and tidied up. Generally, we draw the barn doors tight (as if this impedes mice!). But one evening someone must have left a set of doors cracked.

The next morning coming into feed, Melissa slipped through the door and had the fright of her life! A large red tailed hawk was perched on the rafters above the wash stall with two mice clutched in each talon. He eyed her slowly, then squished the life out of one little fellow and ripped it apart with his beak and consumed it with Thanksgiving dinner gusto. The other mouse met with a similar fate.

We call our new mouser “Gabriel” or “Gabe” for short because hawks are seen messengers in Native American medicine and every night now we leave a set of barn doors slightly cracked so he can enjoy his rodent feast, courtesy of the MMSC!

It’s all part of the circle of life which we honor here at the MMSC. Thanks to Gabe, we are winning the war on mice these days—with only a rare few found in the feed bin—and those jump in the scoop and we walk them outside and set them free.

A picture of our barn aisle way. Susanna said, "The barn must be clean enough at all time so that if the Queen of England shows up all we must do is brush our hair." A rule that we live by at MMSC.

Our feed room. Thanks to Gabe, we haven't seen a mouse since he decided to join us at the center.