It is autumn now. I should be writing poetic blogs about geese on the wing, abundant golden harvests, or maybe a symbolic essay about the seasons of life. I’m not in the mood.

Every day the sun comes up later, and goes down earlier.  The drought has drained my beautiful pond, my pasture has fried and died. Hay prices are simply impossible. Some of the elder barn residents are struggling already. Am I ready to battle winter again?

Luckily not everyone is the sour puss I am. After all, these cool nights are bringing more mice into the house. It’s kind of like an indoor soccer league for the dogs and cats. They still hunt outside, it’s just an extra opportunity, indoors and under the lights.

Now, if it was just cats trapped under the sink, or playing with a mouse in the bathtub, I would just sleep through it. But this is different.

Let the indoor rodent games begin! Our house is about 1000 square feet, patrolled by 4 dogs and 3 cats. And they hunt in inter-species packs- a dog and cat together. Not very good odds for rodents. Or lamps. Or glasses of wine poured to distract the writer from mouse murder.

The chase is on- dogs and cats in hot pursuit of small intruders, shoving furniture around to look like random tornado damage. Eventually the action slows, no one is in any hurry for the inevitable yet. They are going for style points- scoring this game is as complicated as a dressage test.

Here’s a quote from the feline winner:

“Tiny? Are you kidding? If you adjust my size to human size, this mouse the equivalent to you bringing down a beagle. Could you manage? I don’t think so. Besides, he was very quick and really mean. You’re welcome.”  -Squirrel, Tiny Medium Game Hunter.

Barn mice really seem tougher than these seasonal intruders. Or maybe the mice that migrate to the house in winter are snowbird mice, looking for a warm place to retire. Sorry, our house is no mouse Miami.

Back when I was new to this indoor blood sport, one of the cats brought a big fat vole in the house and put him on the kitchen counter. A vole the size of a kitten, with only a few puncture wounds and very much alive.

I’ve had enough mice fly out of the grain bin and into my face that I’m not rodent shy. But this job did seem to require more than a tissue. I put the cat on the floor and grabbed some tupperware from the dish drain. In the blink that I looked away, the vole disappeared. Simultaneously my dog tried to exit the room, very nonchalant. He might have whistled if there wasn’t a very live vole in his mouth.

Yikes, I dove to the dog and pried his jaw open. No time to chew, no vole, but the dog looked suspicious. He swallowed the vole whole. It got immediately quiet. My dog looked at me and I looked at him. One of us was more squinty-eyed than the other.

How long could the un-chewed vole hold his breath inside my dog? Would the vole try to escape? Or were vital organs being shredded by that mad vole’s nasty toenails? I continued watching my dog, who continued to watch me.

It wasn’t the end of the world for most of us. I didn’t fund a new wing at the emergency vet hospital. The dog did have gas the next day.

Is this mouse blood sport cruel? No more so than dust bowl droughts or old horses facing winter. This Circle of Life has some dark parts. Suck it up.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

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Comment by Anna Blake on September 21, 2012 at 12:25pm

Jackie, that is pretty embarrassing for a terrier!! ;)

Comment by Jackie Cochran on September 21, 2012 at 11:08am

At least your animals go after them.  I once had a Scottie that regularly let our resident house mouse walk right past her nose.  We finally trapped the mouse.

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