We are accidentally supporting scientific research at Tails You Win Farm. This means my E-I-E-I-O farm just might have a purpose beyond being a haven for humans and animals alike. I will start this post by stating the conclusion of our unintentional study: Who needs a cat when you have a Kainan.
That is not a question or…to sound more scientific…a hypothesis. It is a statement of proven, disputable fact based on my own highly accurate field…or living room…research.
Have you read Never Cry Wolf, the 1963 book by Farley Mowart? It’s all about his excursion to middle-of-nowhere Canada to hook up with a family of wolves. Here’s a summary from Goodreads.com:
More than a half-century ago, the Canadian Wildlife Service sent naturalist Farley Mowat to investigate why wolves were killing arctic caribou. Mowat’s account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone — studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves — is today celebrated as a classic of nature writing, at once a tale of remarkable adventures and indelible record of the myths and magic of wolves.
Twenty years after its first publication date, the book was also adapted into a movie by the same name. Mowat was sent off to the Canadian tundra—ill prepared for the rugged life by his own account—to study wolves and determine if they were the cause of the great decline of caribou in the region. In that day, there was a pretty strong anti-wolf sentiment and wolves had a hefty bounty on their heads which, well into his expedition, he found presented an attractive means for earning a living for many of the Inuit, the native residents of the area.
So here’s the major spoiler alert to stop here if you plan to read the book…
Well, Mowat found that it was not the wolves who were decimating the caribou herds. According to his account (which some experts say is somewhat fictionalized in an effort to make his point, but we’re going with it here), he never saw the wolf family he followed really even go near the caribou. So what the heck were they eating?
Lots and lots of mice. In fact, according to Mowat, he too adopted a mouse diet during his time on the tundra to see just how well he could survive on tiny rodents. Apparently, mice were plentiful and the wolves patiently plucked them out of the snow and ice. And that’s how they survived.
It does make sense. If I were a wolf, would I want to try to take down a 250 pound caribou that might cause me great bodily harm on the way to my dinner table, or would I just step out of the old den and snack the day away on mice? Easy answer here…I’ll happily choose the chance to snack all day vs having a big steak dinner at the end of the day. I’m a nachos kind of gal, hold the mice.
This brings us back to our unintentional scientific experiment that accidentally supports Mowat’s theory from a half century ago. For more than a decade I have lived on this farm, in this house with a herd of dogs. We have always had a double digit number of dogs here. It’s our thing…we have our “on purpose dogs” and our foster dogs. They all live in a happy jumble, generally on or in the vicinity of our bed/couches/any soft surface.
In that same time-span we have had mice come and go from our house. It’s the country. It happens. The little buggers find their way in. Now you might think that with a dozen dogs or more hanging out, the mice might just pack it in and move on to another hostel.
But no. I have actually witnessed a mouse running straight through the toes of some of my supposedly predatory housemates.
Put a bunny in the back yard and they’re screaming after it. Let a bird fly in front of the window and the ruckus that results would scare off even the most determined Jehovah’s Witness missionaries (I know this for a fact. Bless their hearts…they threw some brochures on my porch and bolted back up the driveway). But let a mouse run through in plain sight? Yeah. Nothing.
One might suggest that a cat would solve this problem, but I sure can’t imagine introducing a cat into my ever-changing pack of dogs. I don’t think I could even get past the “do you have any other pets” question before getting a big red DENIED stamped on my adoption application at Kitties R Us.
But now? Well, in the past few weeks, normally prime move-into-the-house season for our rodent friends, the mouse population seems to have vanished. And we have actually had a few deceased mice left in conspicuous look-what-I-did-for-you places (a tad Lennie-esque, if you ask me).
So what the heck? Well, the only major change in our home dynamic is the addition of one wolfdog. Yes, it appears that Kainan is a master mouse catcher. I have to believe that Mowat, who passed away just about a year ago, would be so pleased.
Once again we have proof that the big bad wolf, who could jump the fence to chase deer, or who could turn into the vicious rampaging villain that fiction often portrays by wreaking havoc in our own backyard, proves to be a gentle, amicable, I daresay helpful soul.
Unless you are a mouse.
What this really means to me is that we have our first actual working animal on the Tails You Win E-I-E-I-O Farm. Before you know it, I may have to drop all those added vowels. Hobby farm no more. We are headed down the trail toward becoming a true working farm thanks to one rather large wolfdog.
Well, sort of working. It’s not as if Kainan is harvesting mice to feed the family. Hell, he’s not even eating them himself. But, it’s a start.
Right now it’s time to feed Sir Kainan his gourmet meal of half raw Instinct meat patties and half Fromm Salmon A’ La Veg kibble while I convince Jim to go remove the soggy dead mouse from the foot of our bed.
We are a work in progress around here. Bon Appetit!
(Oh…and here’s a shocker…it was two legged predators eradicating the caribou, not the wolves. The book is still an interesting read, the movie still entertaining, spoiler blog post aside.)