When I went to refresh the pigs’ water bowl this morning, I found a dead field mouse floating in it. The pigs currently live in the barn until the pastures are ready for them to return (in the spring), so mice aren’t surprising…but this is the second mouse to meet its end in the bowl.
The pigs have a big water bowl, and it’s often spilled during the day. One pig, in particular, has a penchant for stepping into the bowl and slopping the water around (it sounds like fun – can you really blame them?). Since I end up dumping out any water left in the bowl, it has to be light enough to lift, even if it’s full.
The large, round tub has a lip all the way around it. I imagine that a mouse, maybe a thirsty one, could stumble into it and then be unable to get back out before exhaustion set in and the poor creature drowned. The water may have been too low for the mouse to grab the tub’s lip and climb back out. Life and death drama in the water bowl.
I suspect that many homesteaders and farmers wouldn’t be sad to find a dead mouse – they do eat animal feed, leave their droppings around, chew holes, etc. But what’s that really about? It’s about mice being mice and doing their normal mouse activities and, like all living things, trying to survive.
You might expect that the pigs, being omnivores, would have discovered the mouse and eaten it, and that I would have been none the wiser about the incident in the water bowl. Maybe the pigs simply didn’t notice the furry floater…or maybe mice aren’t on the menu; honestly, the pigs really like their fermented feed, grass hay, and healthy fruit and veggie scraps (especially the fermented ones!), so a dead mouse may not have been enough to even merit their gustatorial attention. Either way, the body was left untouched, just as it was a couple of weeks ago.
One mouse death could be a fluke; two constitutes a pattern. I wouldn’t feel right about just letting more mice drown, so action was needed. After scrubbing out the water bowl, I bent a piece of leftover wire (this is one of the many times scraps come in handy around here) into a “ladder” of sorts. I bent the top piece around the lip of the bowl, and the bottom touches the bowl’s floor.
Filled, the ladder is on the side farthest away from the pigs, so shouldn’t bother them or interfere with drinking in any way. And if another mouse goes for a dip, it can climb back out using the ladder.
You may be thinking, “It was just a mouse, why a blog post devoted to it?” My response to that question is that while a mouse may not be important (or even likeable) to some, I know it lived – and died – here. It was a wild living being, and its life mattered. I hope that no additional mice meet their end in the water bowl…and if another does, I’ll go back to the drawing board and try again.