You know those stories about the crazy old lady with a bunch of cats? This one’s a little different.
When my boys were little I wanted to give them the experience of growing up on a farm, like I had. Maybe you need to have been a farm kid to understand that, which my husband wasn’t. But he did agree and we purchased a 20-acre farm in Tumalo, Oregon.
However, what we could afford wasn’t pretty. Thankfully I had a knack for looking past the debris, disrepair and cow manure to see the potential.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the 40 or so cats the old owners left behind. They managed to capture and remove over 60 of them, but the remainder was left for me to deal with.
We bought the place the end of January 1992 and still owned our house on the golf course.
So each morning I would drop the boys off at school and drive the 20 minutes out to our new farm to work on it.
The first day I brought a shovel and wheelbarrow and set about getting all the cow shit off the porch and immediate surroundings of the house. As I was doing that, I’d see cats scurrying about.
They didn’t look right.
Most had funny looking faces with crooked eyes and ears. I felt like I was in a Steven King novel or horror movie as they watched me shoveling crap into the wheelbarrow. I was out there all by myself, and I was a bit creeped out.
I could only get a few hours in before I’d have to pack up and head back home to get the boys. This became my daily routine, for over three months.
So my second day out I decided to survey the house, now that the old owners and their animals were gone. The smell inside the house was overwhelming, but I was determined to make it a home again, instead of the barn it was allowed to become. I could see this was a beautiful little farmhouse at one time.
When I headed down the stairs to the basement to check out the heating system, I was startled by cats darting and running through the open vents in the foundation. I have to tell you that scared the whits out of me.
I made sure the cats were out of the basement and secured all of the screened vents. Or so I thought. Each day, they would be back in the basement, taunting me. This crazy routine went on for a few days. Each day when I’d walk down those stairs I would be looking for crazy eyes staring back at me from the dark. About the third day of this I went a little crazy myself.
Because I was on that farm by myself, I brought my pellet gun. It was just a little pistol type and I have no idea what I thought it was going to protect me from, but I had it in my hand as I descended the stairs. Sure enough, they were down there so I started spastically shooting and yelling like a mad woman. Afterwards I realized just how dumb that was.
At that point, I called the humane society to ask if they would please come round up the cats and take them for me. They laughed. I was told they would be happy to euthanize them if I wanted to bring them in. And it would only cost me $40 per cat. I laughed… nervously.
When I explained that there were at least 40 inbred cats, the nice woman on the other end of the line calmly asked if there was a pond on my property. After telling her yes, there was an old pond, she said, “Get a live trap and drown them, it’s the most humane thing you could do for them.”
I kid you not.
…to be continued.