Joanna looked over my shoulder at the image below and observed, “He’s hard at work.” Joanna knows cats, she’s a cat whisperer, and therefore her observation must have been correct. This handsome feline was photographed at a barn housing dairy replacements and beef steers. He was quick to appear when I arrived and steadfastly held his ground as I walked about.
We have eight barn cats here at the farm, each has a particular charge.
• Onyx is the boss … he monitors the big barn, the chicken house, and hay bales.
• Harry guards the northern frontier, including the vegetable garden, fruit trees, and apiary.
• Tolly guards the southern frontier, including the pond and hay field.
• Peter is guardian of the eastern frontier and hedgerow.
• Moses guards the vast western frontier.
• Calvin is guardian of the house and porches.
• Merlin monitors the small barn (the shop) and corn crib.
• Linnaeus (16 years old) is retired … he acts as emeritus foreman and head enforcer.
There’s a maxim which says that if you live on a farm you’ll have barns, and if you’ve got barns … barn cats will simply happen. And then there’s the Law of the Conservation of Cats which states that once some maximal barn cat population is achieved that number will be maintained as an equilibrium state. For example, if the number of barn cats on your place is maximized at 15 … and you should lose one … the number will rise to 15 once again … usually as a result of no effort of yours. The need for barn cats is genuine when you have feed or grains either in storage or around in large enough quantities to attract any variety of things which appreciate a free meal. Taking on a large number of cats however brings with it responsibilities. All of our barn cats are either spayed or neutered and each is taken to the veterinarian once each year for vaccinations and a routine check. The expense of having a small army of feline workers is real – but they provide valuable and much needed services.