Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Taming of the Tig

Almost two years ago, I ordered 25 chicks. I actually got 28 chicks, 27 of which survived to adulthood. About 6 months ago, I decided to let the chickens have most of the day free ranging, so now I have around 20 chickens or so. One of the problems with having livestock is that you almost inevitably wind up with mice and/or rats. Mice I can deal with, but when I realized about 3 months ago there was a rat living in the henhouse, I was not a happy camper.

picture of Little TigSo when an orange and white cat showed up about two months ago and started hanging around like he lives here or something, I felt a bit more hospitable than I might have ordinarily. I admit it, I started feeding him, just enough to persuade him to stick around. I deliberately underfed him, to encourage him to make up the difference in rodents. Steve wasn't that happy, since he thinks we already have too many animals. I'm happy, though, since the rat has since decamped. I'm not sure if it is eau de cat that convinced him to leave, or if Little Tig, as I have come to call him, has indeed reinvented the rat as dinner. Steve said it wouldn't be so bad if we could actually pet him, but he can't see the point of feeding a cat you can't get near.
This is because Little Tig is quite wary of people--at first he wouldn't let us get within 20 feet of him. But when he got to the point that I could get 10 feet or so, something interesting happened. He started rubbing himself against nearby objects as if begging to be petted. So I resolved to try to convince Tig that I could get close to him without eating him even once.

I feed Tig through an opening that lets the air conditioning pipes go through into the crawl space. This lets him eat without the chickens stealing his food or the dogs stealing him. So my first step was to put the food a bit outside the hole and make him stick his head out before I'd feed him. This slowly progressed to letting me rub between his ears. Then I put the bowl farther away from the hole, so he had to come out completely.

Next time I post, I'll tell you the rest of the story.

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