Running a small business is always a difficult thing.
Trying to balance a small budget is always a not fun
thing. One of the ways we have tried over the years to
keep our expenses down is to limit our employees. As
most of you that know us here at the Ranch, it is just
Liz and myself that do all the work. This is the way we
want it and actually enjoy doing it this way. Yes, I
suppose we could hire several additional workers and
maybe make a few dollars more. I doubt it.
Insurance is a big thing in any home or business. We had
a very good guard dog for 15 years. Shadow was not only
an employee but our best friend. As Shadow was getting
older we searched long and hard for a replacement for her.
As many of you know, Conn was added a couple years ago after
Shadow's passing. He is a very large (150 lbs) Kangal dog
from Turkey. In his native country the Kangal is used for
protecting sheep flocks from wolves. We do not have wolves
around our NW Ranch. We do have more than our share of coyotes
and a few other varmints.
Before Conn arrived we built a 6,000 square foot kennel that
goes around the outside of the two barns, He has the run of
both outside and inside. Anything that gets inside is his.
There is another link to the "out at the barn" guard dog and
that is the 10 year old house dog, Ghia. She is a Jack Russell
Terrier. Whenever Conn sounds off she makes sure I know about
it. As large and tough as Conn is, he fears or respects only
Ghia. Ghia will put him in his place quickly. I think he may
not fear her, just smart enough to know no matter what, Ghia
will sleep on Dads bed at night. I am pleased with our barn
employee, Conn, and he is head of Security.
About two months ago I started seeing what I suspected were
casting from a bird of prey. Many years ago I had a license
to practice Falconry. I was allowed to have and catch from
the wild two of seven specie of hawks. I trapped and manned
and hunted a four old female Gosh hawk. After eating a bird
of prey will throw off a pellet of not digestible fur/bone/etc.
So with my background in falconry I was suspicious of what I
One day I saw something out of the corner of my eye and
the movement was a very small owl. In looking closer I
could see where it had been roosting and it was not
afraid of me at all and actually tolerated me to go
about my barn chores without becoming overly nervous.
Point of note: Whenever one raises any animal such as
birds, one will have a population of mice. It is an
ongoing battle and many different means are used to
control them. We try very hard to have NO mice but
that is just a figment of my imagination.
As time passes by and I am getting to know my little
Saw-whet owl better I see he hangs mice up in the rafters
for later consumption. I have counted five stashes of mice
at any given time. Looking in my bird books I see where this
is one of the owl's ways of hunting and feeding. Like a
squirrel stashing nuts, the owl stashes mice.
I got to thinking was it possible to try and attract
another owl of the opposite sex and perhaps have them
as a family of New Employees, "Mouse Control?" I searched
the Internet and found a lot of information and even plans
to build a nest box that should work. How to attract a female?
(I was sure the one we had was a male as they are always
smaller but with no comparison could not be positive as
the books tell me they look alike except for size.)
One day a couple weeks ago I see where my lil' guy has
called a friend into his barn to help with the mousing
chores. The new owl is a bit larger (not much) but has
a very different personality. She is not as tolerant of
us feeding and watering as is our boy. Hopeful she will
eventually settle down a bit more. I have not built and
hung a nest box yet but this chore is high on my to do
Here is a photo of the male I will share here with all
of you. I have not tried to photograph the new female
yet. I do not want to put her under duress and or scare
If you've never heard one of these owls, here is a
I am happy to report that the numbers of mice seen hanging
in the rafters has gone up a bit. One to two days is about
the most they stay hanging before they disappear and new
ones are added.
Liz and I are very pleased with our new Ranch Employees.
We are truly blessed to be able to enjoy life away from
the fast paced city life.
Just wanted to share our newest employees, Saw-Whet Mouse Controllers.