Wednesday, November 12, 2008


©Ken Harris, 2008
Auburn, California, 1980s. Our friend, Sally Poole, had a nice home east of Highway 49, a few miles north of Auburn. Still has it, by the way. On her property lay an inviting pond, pasture and a huge barn to accommodate her horses. In the huge barn she had some old hay bales that needed to be restacked to make room for a shipment of new hay bales, and here is where Joanne and I enter into the story.

Sally had invited us over for lunch. Or perhaps we invited ourselves. We do that sometimes. In any event, she asked us if we would mind shifting some hay for her.

Out to the barn we went, Sally, Joanne, I and, bringing up the rear, Podge, a marmalade cat. While nominally a barn cat, it had been some time since Podge had actually made an on-site inspection of the place.

We all surveyed the scene. Two-story ceiling, check. Dirt floor but hay on wooden pallets, check. Horses in the barn fascinated by anything connected with hay, check. Barn cat to supervise, check.

I shifted a bale or two and suddenly we saw a mouse. Then two, three, dozens, at least a hundred mice. The floor was covered with squeaking, scurrying mice. We humans stepped in lively fashion. I certainly didn’t want one of those creatures running up my pants leg. I don’t know how those weasel guys in the U.K. do it.

Podge immediately leaped into action, but he was only one cat. Soon he had a mouse in his mouth, then two, then three. We could tell because their tails were still hanging out. Besides that, he had another mouse under each paw and watched helplessly as dozens more scurried around.

Joanne soon joined Podge in the fray, scooping up mice and putting them in a deep bucket. It’s a wonder she didn’t get gnawed. She tells me I helped her, but I don’t remember that.

Very soon the mice disappeared, except for Podge’s and the ones in Joanne’s bucket. Then came the conundrum. What do we do with a bucket of mice. That’s another thing about this memorable day that I don’t remember.

We finished shifting the bales and all returned to the house to ponder our next move. Podge stayed behind because he knew what his next move was going to be.

Sally did not call the exterminator, but she did stop feeding Podge in the house. Podge didn’t object and in fact disappeared from sight for more than a month. When he reappeared, the mouse population was under control and Podge himself looked extremely prosperous.

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