Sunday Column: The epidemic

Before I get into “the situation” we have out here on the ranch, there’s this.

IMG_7973 IMG_8007 IMG_7938 IMG_7949 IMG_7975Augustus, aka: Gus, the Most Extraordinary Cowdog, came home yesterday and now all I want to do is run around the ranch so he can chase me. And then I want to snuggle him and smell his puppy breath, feed him treats and take him with me everywhere I go.

You can bet there’ll be more on him later, but I can’t get too distracted here. We’ve got big problems at the ranch, and it seems, they’re showing up by the thousands, chewing and squeaking and scampering their way to destroying our lives. They show up in feed buckets, in grain bins, on pant legs and saddle blankets, on the shelf of the tack room, in my future brother-in-law’s nice clean pickup, in the Bobcat, and of course, clinging to the windshield of Pops’ pickup on his way to town…


I tell you all about it here.

Coming Home: An epidemic has hit the Veeder Ranch and it’s coming for you
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications

But try not to panic. It turns out I have some great readers. And one of them sent me an idea for a solution.

It’s called “Mouse-be-Gone” and I’m ordering seventy-three crates this afternoon.

And then I’m going into town to get this kitten,


which I intend on putting through a rigorous mouse-hunting training session.

So I’m on it.

Because if I’m going to have an animal farm, I would like to have control of which animals I’m farming…


Anyway, I’m sure the puppy and the kitten, they’re going to be great friends.

Peace, love and puppy breath.


And our world is quiet again…no thanks to the cat.

So ranch life slows down a little around here in the winter when the snow is up over my knees, the horses have been turned out for the season and the cows are off to be fed up nice and plump in a more civilized area for the winter. So we go about our business, moving snow, graining the horses, feeding the dogs, feeding ourselves and taming the cats.

The cats we have in our homes to keep the mice away. The damn dirty rodents who are looking to get a taste of the crumbs we may have dropped on the floor (not that I would ever drop anything) or the sunflower seeds we have hidden in the closet.

I am not a fan of mice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type of girl to stand up on a chair and scream bloody murder as the sneaky little rodent makes his way across my kitchen floor. But I have been known to wake husband out of a deep, dreamy sleep to go check out that squeaking noise I heard. And I may have used the phrase “it’s your manly duty” to convince him to find the creature in the depths of the dark night while wiping his eyes and wondering how on earth it came to this as he proceeded with caution in the war zone area of the living room in his full on mouse hunting stance…in his underwear.

(No underwear photo available)

See that’s what usually happens around here. No matter how many cats we have, these wild animals turned domestic house pets usually wind up finding just enough to eat in their food dishes so as to completely lose their taste for the hunt. Well, at least their taste for hunting real, moving, heart beating pests.

Funny thing, they seem to be really good at attacking my curtains, rugs and that little patch of sun that streams through the window and onto the carpet. Yup, they’ve killed all of those things flat dead about three hundred and thirty times already.

But mice? Eh. They’ll get to it later.

Which brings me to my point about how there is never a dull moment, even in the depths of winter. Because my momma lives down the road…and she has a cat.

A devil cat.

A cat I picked out for her from the Humane Society because she reminded me of a feline we had when we were growing up named Belly (don’t ask). But I distinctly remember warning my dear mother not to blame me if all hell broke loose in their house when I brought this kitten home.

Because they asked for it.

(The devil herself)

And I delivered.

But who would have known that this cat would turn out to be all spice and not a hint of sugar. This pet does not allow cuddling, moves from room to room at lightning speeds, has eyes that stare into your soul and read all of your most hidden secrets and swats at my feet from underneath the chair every time I come to visit while I scream “Why? Why? I saved your life!”

And most annoying, if not the most unreasonable thing of all, this cat has a taste for high places and makes her home on the top of my momma’s cupboards, between the wine glasses and the fine china. A smart and perfect spot really, because if you make any sudden swatting “dammit cat get down” motions, the devil cat will indeed flee, leaving a wake of glassware and fancy, shiny things behind her.

So there she sits on top of her world despite my momma’s best efforts to find her a new favorite spot.

But this could work out right? I mean, if she’s going to be up there at least she has a great view of any rodent shaped intruders and she can finally put the moves she uses tackling my feet to good use.

So when my momma called one evening during dinnertime to let me know that pops was gone and there was a minor emergency that involved a mouse, I told her not to worry. I told her that me and my feet have been suffering and grooming this cat for a moment like this. Do not worry. That cat is ready for battle. She hasn’t lost the taste for blood.

I know from personal experience.

So I hung up the phone and carried on with my tuna noodle hot dish (my night to cook).

And when the phone rang again I thought for sure it would be a report on how her heroic pet finally earned her keep and swallowed the tiny beast whole and then got back up on her throne of wine glasses and waited for her next attack.

I put down the noodles and answered the phone.

Me: “Hi mom. Did she get it?”

Momma: “Oh, hi Jess. Ummm, well, no…no she didn’t.”

Me: “Really? Well what is she doing? Where’s the mouse?”

Momma: “Yeah, well…yeah. The cat? The cat is on top of the piano…”

Me: “Ok.”

Momma: “And, well, the mouse is on top of my curtains.”

Me: “What? What do you mean on top of your curtains?”

Momma: “Well, you know the curtains in my family room?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Momma: “Well the mouse is sitting on top of the curtain rod and the cat is on top of the piano right next to it–just staring. Just staring at it…”

Me (with a noodle hanging out of my mouth):  “The mouse is on the curtain rod? It’s just balancing up there like a little rodent gymnast?”

Momma: “Yeah. Well, and they’ve been like this for a good thirty minutes…I have my broom here and I’m just waiting for her to make her move…”

Me: “Oh gaawwwdddd. What are you going to do with the broom mom?”

Momma: “Well, I don’t know…”

Me (running out the door): “We’re coming over.”

So I grabbed husband who was secretly happy to be saved from the tuna hot dish and glad to be dressed in more appropriate mouse slaying gear and we drove down the road in anticipation of saving my momma from having to use her beloved broom for anything other than sweeping.

(Certain to be prepared this time)

I told husband she must be exaggerating. I cannot picture this. A mouse, balancing on a curtain rod?  My momma really has a flair for the dramatics, so you see, I come by it naturally…and on another note, she really should start wearing her perscribed glasses and maybe she’s on some medications I am not aware of…oh, maybe I should be worried about her…and….

….oh…oh really? Really?

(small photo taken inconspicuously with a super secret camera phone)


And while momma and I huddled together in a corner holding our breath with our hands to our chins, husband took one look at the situation, walked right over to the mouse perched up on top of a three inch diameter life line having flashbacks to his rodent childhood and all of the things he would do if the sweet Lord would save his tiny little mouse heart from a death with whiskers that had been staring him in the face for the last thirty minutes (which on mouse time, I am sure is more like a good week and a half) and reached out his manly, hero hand, grabbed the trembling creature by the tail and threw him out the door.

Game over.

Breath released.

Broom back in the closet.

Tuna noodle casserole still not delicious.

Momma found her glasses.

Cat returned to her perch.

And our world is quiet again…

…for now…

But maybe momma wants to trade in the demon cat for something more like this:

(I mean, they seem to get along…)

Just a thought.

Here’s to a rodent free weekend.