Meet our new woolshed kittens. Their names are Dave and Bill. They’re actually girl cats, but they’re such best friends that we needed two names that went together. Muffin and Puffin didn’t quite fit, so we went with Dave and Bill. It’s a bit of a permaculture thing.
Dave and Bill’s chief responsibility in our woolshed will be catching as many mice as they possibly can, and providing occasional entertainment with their kitten antics. They’re doing quite well so far…
I never thought I’d voluntarily get a cat (or cats) on a farm but the mouse and rat situation is such here that we need some help. It’s not very bad, and certainly not as bad as the farmers out west with their mouse plagues. Still, we like to keep things in balance here, if we can.
I don’t expect Dave and Bill to take on the rats known to lurk around farm buildings head-on, exactly, but I’m going on the theory that a woolshed with resident cats will naturally have less rats in it than a woolshed without.
The other clincher was chatting to Joel Salatin (yes I know I’m mentioning him again, but he really did say an awful lot of interesting things that got me thinking, while he was with us) about the Polyface Farm cats. And farm cats in general. Namely that they’re great in their place, and do a great job with pest control.
So despite being fairly anti-cat most of my life (based on a love of small birds) we’re giving it a shot. Dave and Bill, it’s all up to you: i give you the woolshed.
Any successful cat-in-the-shed stories to make me feel more resolved about this decision?
Hello…and congratulations on your two new workers. We have had cats most of our lives…. working cats, that reside in the feed shed and have always helped keep the rodent numbers to a minimum. The cats we have had, have always been desexed prior to maturity, have learnt/accepted that night times are either penned in a purpose built cat pen, or locked into the feed shed, and that the litter tray was their friend. As with all our working animals, they reaped the rewards of their efforts, by getting a share of the goat’s milk, a varied and healthy diet,… Read more »
thanks for your thoughts, Lee…
No stories, but look at those little faces, that’s worth it! Go get ’em girls, and make your mama glad she got you (and don’t eat wildlife, or I have a feeling you’ll be out on your little furry butts faster than you can meow “Folks, this ain’t normal”)!
Yep, that’s the deal, prettymuch! Well spotted 🙂
When we got our chooks they left scraps which attracted rats which in turn attracted a feral cat which now lives unattended in and around our woolshed. Whilst this is far from ideal for native fauna we do take some comfort that it will also manage snakes. Last summer we had a 1.5 metre Diamond Python not that far from the house and sheds which we left alone and hope to see again. I’m told that these are awesome ‘rats and micers’ and harmless to humans … but certainly do take adjusting to having around!
The only prob with cajoling diamond pythons to our woolshed would be that we need rat/mice hunters active on cold winter nights, when the rats and mice are trying to build nests… which I’m assuming is not a good time to expect a large reptile to be very active… but in the summer, that would be a great solution! Might freak out the students a bit tho…
One to share (for the safety of cats or dogs, for that matter) is that my Nanna who is out on a station used to rig up a small battery to a dead snake and ‘let’ the new dog find it. One short sharp shock and they usually left snakes alone after that – in that they wouldn’t try and attack them, rather they would stand there and bark at them until Nanna came in to sort them out (ie these were snakes that got into the house as the floors and walls don’t meet, so a snake under the… Read more »
I should add, it sounds a little … cruel… initially but it’s far less cruel than dying an agonising death somewhere on your own (as the dogs usually go somewhere to hide and die) and it’s much less cruel than a snake bite.
I don’t think it sounds cruel, I think it sounds like a brilliant way to train your dogs not to die! Wish we’d figured out the 1080 aversion therapy version of that trick before… but cheers for the tip…
Coming from a NZ farm originally, our cats like the dogs were working animals and both were integral to pulling their weight and were never treated as pets in the sense of constant companions. When pregnant, the mums became totally viscious killers defending their patch, bringing home weasals, small opossums, eels, ravens & assorted other bits & pieces. On one occasion I found what was left of a goose although this might have been the kill of a hawk. When the kittens were born, an older male neuter babysat while mum went off hunting to ensure plentiful milk for kittens.… Read more »
Thanks, Rebecca! Yes we do want to treat Bill and Dave as working animals (tho they’re a bit too cute at the moment). They’ll be de-sexed soon however, so we won’t have that same experience as your childhood! Oh well, plenty of abandoned kittens in this world (Bill and Dave included) that we can gather in as needed…
Go you good things. We have always, always had farm cats. They never bothered the native birds, of which there are many. They were too busy catching rabbits (as well as mice and rats.) Rabbits. I kid you not.
A working cat that catches its own food will be a healthy cat indeed! Yes a cat can kill wildlife, but so do the foxes, dogs, humans, etc. just make sure there is plenty of habitat for the birds, especially prickly habitat. We have a berry patch, and lots of roses that the birds love as the cat cant get to them. (im sure you are not lacking natural habitat there). I have never seen our cat get a lizard, our dog on the other hand… Our cat is locked up inside at night, but it actually seems nights is… Read more »
We have heaps of native birds and skinks and frogs, and 2 cats, one pet and one semi wild, both sterilized. Without the cats we are over run with rodents . Rats in particular are our worst pest, eating seedlings and mature beetroot plants and silver beet plants off at ground level, killing new deliveries of day old chickens en masse overnight, stripping sweet corn cobs, chewing on avocados on the trees, gnawing out the flesh of even macadamia nuts after boring a small hole in the shell. They are bad enough now, but before we had the 2 cats… Read more »
No success stories here. We tried bringing our two domestic cats with us to the bush after moving from suburbia. In the few outings we allowed them during the day, what they managed to decimate where only the skinks. With their presence, we also noticed the carnivourous birds steering clear of our yard too. For any dent Bill and Dave will make on the vermin you want to get rid of, they’ll also change the eco sytem you don’t want them to interfere with. It’s not just about the little birds they’ll hunt, it’s also about changing the food supply… Read more »
Cheers for your thoughts Chris – the rodent prob we have seems to be inside the woolshed – int he store-room, in the recently insulated roof etc. Neither snakes nor carnivorous birds are going to be much help in our sitch don’t think, (especially as this is our HQ space – intensively used by many people every day) but in an outlying shed we would definitely be going with the approach to enhance the natural predators!
Been a follower of Milkwood for a few months now and love the information that comes round.
I will be obtaining property soon so these are the things we will have to consider also.
I had never considered cats as per my thoughts of their impact on the local wildlife.
Having read Chris’s post above, I am more inclined to take his advice and try and lure in in the natural predators to deal with any rodent problems.
Thanks Chris 🙂
Dear little pusskisses x
we saw a few cheeky mice in the woolshed at the Market Garden course……I’m sure the “girls” will stay around for snacks of mice & rats if the population is there for them….if they do their “job” and help to lessen the problem, then I guess keeping them interested & not stray too far with food and human contact to keep them close to the woolshed x
I think an important factor is range size. I am considering my options with regards to this issue and wonder if a single cat would really scare away other predators on aprox. 10 acres.
I do t know the answer but my main concern is frogs. I have great frog habitat. I have been considering cats for the mice population, but thought of this problem while thinking about my slug levels. If the frogs (which I love) go away the slugs will play
Hi, I’ve just found this post about your barn cats. Would love to know how they are doing & if you’ve noticed any changes as a result of having them eg. Change in the presence of other wildlife such as snakes & birds. We’ve just moved onto a farm & are considering getting a cat to live in our shed and keep the rodents away. Our chicken coop is near the shed too so we know that mice will be around & we don’t want snakes around as a result of the mice. On the other hand we want our… Read more »
They’re doing fine, well one of them is, the other one caught too many birds so she got the chop. Socks is still around and while we do still have a rat or two in the ceiling , it’s nothing like the rodent problem we’ve had in years past… She has caught a bird or two but on the whole, it seems to be a good thing.