When we moved to this property in 2002, we literally had to cut through eighty years of wild forest to create pastures for the alpacas and in order to build barns near the existing home and its surrounding yard. We often heard unsettling nightly noises in the remaining forested areas that made us wonder what else lived nearby as the sounds were more than intimidating than anything we had experienced while living in the suburbs of Denver.
One morning, our employee mentioned that he kept seeing a stray, feral cat sneaking into the big barn during the late afternoon. He never actually saw it but rather caught glimpses of it as it ran through the large overhead garage doors on its way to hide behind the hay. I also noticed that the employee had positioned a little pan of cat food in the walkway in a sweet and kind gesture to feed the little stray cat. I love cats so I honestly did not mind this kindness being offered.
After another few days, the employee mentioned that the stray cat must have accidently been locked in the barn overnight because he had found a good number of dead mice in the main walkway. Again, I love cats so what could be so wrong or unusual about a great mouse-catching cat moving into the barn, right?
On Thursday morning I happened to be in the front yard when our employee arrived and opened the doors of the barn to let the alpacas out into their pastures. It is very unusual for the alpacas to run out of the barn in the mornings but that morning, they were running like there was a fire inside the barn. I also heard our employee scream at the top of his lungs as if the fire inside the barn was exploding everywhere. My throat tightened and tears began to well in my eyes as I imagined the worst. I jumped into the Gator and drove to the barn as quickly as it would get me there. Our employee was running my direction and I promise you, I could see panic written all over his face. I quickly assessed the situation and saw no smoke or fire. I didn’t see any giant Anacondas or Grizzly Bears. I didn’t smell any kind of explosive residue. What in the world could have happened?
I could still see all the white area around his eyes as our employee attempted to catch his breath. His hands and arms were trembling so badly he honestly could not speak so I knew something had scared him very badly. After a few minutes to regain his composure, he reported the feral cat had definitely been locked in the barn overnight. As he opened the doors to let the alpacas into the pasture, the feral cat had appeared from behind the hay where it had hidden all night and had jumped OVER him and ricocheted off multiple alpacas that were lined up at the door to get out once it was opened. That is what caused 150 alpacas to panic. Then he said he got a really good look at the cat and indeed, it was not a feral, stray cat at all. It was a very small and very frightened juvenile grey fox and it was absolutely determined to escape the barn at any cost.
I could not hold back the laughter! In fact, I doubled over with laughter at this point within his explanation! I felt really bad for our employee because I knew it really scared him. But after fearing the barn was on fire, I was so relieved! Plus it really was funny. Our employee was not able to laugh about the experience for a few days but eventually it became hilarious to all of us.
After this adventure, our employee agreed he would never feed another stray cat on the property, nor entice one to stick around in order to catch mice in the barn. In turn, I promised to stop saying “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!” each time I walked into the barn.