One Spring morning we went out to feed the saddle horses and milk the cows. The grain for the horses was kept in metal barrels in the barn.
We opened the barn door and discovered Hanse the Cat with arched back, fur standing on end, fearfully surveying the area of the grain barrels.
We thought there was at least a six foot rattlesnake hiding there, judging from his actions. The two things Hanse feared the most was coyote pups and snakes—in that order.
So we got a hoe to kill it with, and slowly and carefully moved one of the barrels—there was a meek little chicken snake hiding behind it—it was only about two feet long, but when Hanse saw it he took himself with all possible speed to the hay loft—leaping the bales of hay two at a time—spitting, snarling, and hissing. He must have thought that little snake was going to swallow him alive.
We killed the snake and took it outside and buried it.
Actually, it would have done a lot of good in the barn, as chicken snakes also prey on mice, but they do kill baby chicks, birds, and rob nests of eggs, so we thought it best to get rid of it.
Anyway, Hanse made his attitude clear—”either that snakes goes or I go!”
We fed the horses and milked the cows, and went back inside the barn to fill Hanse’s bowl with warm milk—he was still hiding in the hayloft—we could hear him grumbling and growling.
We finally coaxed him to come down for his warm milk.
He walked gingerly and slowly in as wide a circle as possible, because of the stacked hay, around the area of the barrels, eyeing them suspiciously, and snarling under his breath, ready to flee if even a straw moved.
For weeks he wouldn’ t go near those barrels.
Hanse was given to us by a neighboring rancher, who had an over abundance of cats. He assured us that Hanse was a “marvelous mouser.”
He just didn’t like varmints of any kind and was scared to death of anything larger than a mouse.
A friend caught a barn owl—they are really beautiful birds– and offered it to us but we were afraid Hanse would have a nervous breakdown if we put it in the barn with him.
Barn owls are excellent “mousers” and will remain in a barn.
They sleep quietly in the rafters by day, and hunt mice at night, swooping down almost noiselessly. They don’t “call” as the screech owls and Great Horned owls do.
I was always amazed that so large a bird as Who-Who made so little noise when flying—there was hardly a whisper of sound as he glided down from his tree to the post-top.