I’m continually amazed at God’s involvement in my life, even in the small things.  I love God’s surprises and don’t ever want to take them for granted. If every prayer I prayed was answered, not only could that be dangerous, but it could dull the joy when he surprises me.

This past April, in the midst of extraordinary events, another extraordinary event was happening in my garden—a rodent infestation like no other. I’ve written about my battles with the little monsters before. Along with the birds, squirrels, lizards, butterflies, and the occasional opossum that visit my backyard paradise, these unwelcome guests are attracted by the bird feeders. Birds are messy and picky eaters—they drop a lot of seed as they eat, leaving a feast on the ground. Not only that, but crafty rodents can easily jump from the trees onto the feeder itself.

I don’t know what was going on this year, but it was especially bad. They were swarming— several mornings and evenings I saw six or more of them at a time moving through the trees, hanging on the bird feeders, jumping on the fence, running down the boards like a racetrack. I saw them feeding on the ground, in the gutter, and even in a potted plant where seed had fallen.  Up and down, across and over, in and out…disgusting! One morning, from inside the house I saw several on one of the feeders. I rushed outside to take it off the tree and when they heard the door they jumped off. As I was carrying the feeder to the patio I felt something brush against my hand. A tiny mouse had gotten inside the feeder and jumped out as I was carrying it! Talk about creepy!

My history with rodents includes various kinds of traps, natural remedies such as plaster of paris, peppermint and vinegar, and, in desperation, poison. I put baffles on top of the feeders and seed catchers under most of them. Finally, I made homemade shields to keep the rats from jumping onto the feeders. I had an exterminator come out, but because my problem is outside, not inside, their recommended solution wouldn’t work for me. My last attempt to do something had the neighbors worried—I shot one with a BB gun. I’m sorry animal lovers, but rats and mice are just nasty. The unpleasant result made me realize I needed something bigger than a bb. I bought a pellet gun, but soon realized that, even though it was satisfying in a brutal kind of way, this wasn’t the answer either.

For a good two weeks, most of my time was spent in rat prevention or annihilation in one way or another, and, as you can see, I tried everything. It was consuming me. One day, I was talking to my friend Jeannie about it. We prayed.

I can still hear her simple,

“Lord, I’m asking that you just take care of it.”

I haven’t had a pet in 15 years, for many reasons, but I finally agreed, around March, to get my grandson a kitten, because he loves cats, and I love him. We were just waiting for kitten season. One of my concerns was the predatory nature of cats—I was afraid for the birds. We were actively looking for kittens, and I had my preferences: female, short-hair, small when fully grown, white or light color. Then one day a stray cat shows up in my yard. I shoo it away because I’m not in the market for a cat. It comes back. I think “hmmm, maybe…” I say to my grandson, “Let’s feed him and try him out—see what he’s like.” He’s a spayed MALE, a BIG cat with a tail as long as his body—not exactly what we were looking for, but, oh so sweet. We bring him in, he loves Austin, he’s cuddly and purry, he listens when I tell him No. Austin says he’s the one and I realize that he’s God’s answer. I try to locate the owner, find out he’s not chipped—finally, after investing in vaccinations, tests, and chip, he’s ours. He’s happy inside and outside, the birds are thriving as ever, and I haven’t seen a rat or mouse since the day he became Guardian of the Garden.

All praise and thanks to God who daily loads us with benefits!

Psalm 68:19

Guardian of the Garden
by Dina Cavazos

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