Let us talk about the ‘R’ word. Yes, that’s the one: Rats.
Now, don’t misunderstand! Ours is a clean farm, if we do say it ourselves. It has not always been so; you don’t learn to manage bushels of farm-derived nutrients all in a day, or a decade. But we’re far enough along on that path that we’re fairly good at moving buildups from point of surplus to point of deficit. There are not piles of things lying around that rats would want to rummage. No spilled feed in any quantity (the poultry don’t waste much), and only so much left in the pig trough on odd days to show that we’ve fed too much that morning, or that the pigs are growing a little bored with shredded apples from the cider-making. The compost bin contains manured bedding and coffee grounds almost to the exclusion of anything else, well, maybe the corpse of a coon or possum gone to his just reward, but only once in a while. Nothing to make a passing platoon of rats take a second look and decide to set up housekeeping.
Nothing except beautiful gardens full of sweet baby beans, tender corn on the cob, juicy tomatoes — and a guard dog who is a little too slow to catch a rat, but keeps the foxes and coyotes at a more than respectful distance. A surplus of delicious food, and not enough vermin control. After twenty years of limiting ourselves to a maximum of three cats, all toms (so that after a bit there’s generally only one of them), we’re discovering why the iconic farm has multiple cats, many cats, cats on every fence post. Cats are working members of the farm community, and we don’t have enough of them.
Time to adopt a half-dozen kittens, and make sure at least two are female.