Remember Junior, the newest member of our farm family? Sherlock, Jr. to be exact. A couple of months ago, I described in a blog (https://yearonthefarm.com/2019/07/03/meet-junior/) how two of my granddaughters selected our newest barn cat at our local Humane Society.
Junior was an instant hit with every adult and child who met him. He was super-playful, super-friendly, and super-cute. I had a really good feeling about this cat. However, at the time, I wrote that “the jury is still out” on how he did his job – namely, keeping our barn clean of unwanted pests. More on that later.
During the past two months, I have gotten to know Junior pretty well and I can honestly say that his personality is different from that of every other cat we have ever owned. For one thing, he is quite vocal and talks to me constantly. As if he were carrying on a conversation. And if I respond to his mews in “human-speak” he continues conversing indefinitely.
His meows have very different intonations. For example, his “meowwww” sounds rather whiny when waiting to be fed, his “meow?” sounds very curious as he follows me while doing chores, and his “meow, meow, meow!” sounds very excited as I call him to the barn for a treat.
Another difference is that he is the first cat that we have ever owned who licks my hand incessantly. As I walk past him, he will grab at my hand just so that he can lick it. When I pet him, he will quickly twist his body around so he can lick my finger. I haven’t quite decided whether this is a complement or an insult. Is he licking me because he loves me or because he thinks I’m too filthy to pet him?
In spite of Junior being a full-grown cat, possibly as old as two according to our vet, he is kittenishly playful. He will leap high into the air to knock down a flitting butterfly, then race through the corral at top speed, only to end up high in the branches of the elm tree next to the barn. All because he can.
Incidentally, I have removed the bird feeder I had hanging from that tree in my pre-Junior days. Come winter, I will hang it in a different tree out of Junior’s territory. I don’t want my beautiful songbirds to succumb to the same fate as the low-flying butterfly.
I held my breath the first time Junior leaped into the rabbit pen. But it turned out, Junior was not aggressive, and the rabbits were not afraid. Instead, they were both very curious.
Junior loves our dogs, but the feeling is not equally reciprocated. One day, I saw Junior playfully bat at Russell’s face in order to get his attention. Russell flinched, eyed Junior for a second, then turned and walked away. Evidently, Junior’s bold attempt at friendship was a bit too forward for our meek, aging lab. Russell now simply avoids Junior whenever possible.
The only times I have needed to scold Junior is when he has gotten into mischief in my garden. He leaps onto my garden plants, pursuing a buzzing beetle, or – gasp! – one of my garden toads. In doing so, he crushes the leaves of my cucumber plants, flattens my schwartzbeeren plants (described in my last blog – What the Heck is Schwartzbeeren?) and tears my garden netting. I have found that the most effective deterrent is a quick spray from my garden hose.
He is slowly getting the message.
In another one of my earlier blogs (https://yearonthefarm.com/2019/06/11/note-to-self-next-time-wear-gloves/ ) I likened our cats’ personalities to male actors that we all know and love. Badass Jack was our Clint Eastwood cat. Likeable Sherlock, Sr. was our Tom Hanks cat. And unpredictable Simba is our Al Pacino cat.
Without a doubt, Junior is our Jim Carrey cat.
As for Junior’s job performance, a verdict has now been reached. Junior is a keeper. Since his arrival in our barn, I have found one dead lizard and one dead snake, but absolutely no evidence of a single mouse. Not one mouse turd. Not one nest.
Evidently, the mice just aren’t into comedy.
(Autographed copies of all three of my books are now available on my website: https://yearonthefarm.com/buy-a-year-on-the-family-farm/)
Next Week: Bracing Up