They have their place and I have mine. And never the twain should meet.
The truth is, over the years, mice and I have had a relationship of sorts. And not a happy one. This discord is all due to the mice, of course, and their insistence on invading my space.
The problems began when we moved with our young family to an old country home. I hadn’t had any experience with mice before that so it was distressing to have these visitors arrive in my home uninvited and expecting to stay! They acted like the place belonged to them. The nerve!
A particular barn cat liked to bring her mice to the front door and lay them out for us to ooh and ah over. Often, if we didn’t get there soon enough to praise her, we would just find the remains of what had become a good lunch. This was a slightly disturbing occurrence that I got used to. After all, those mice were outside, not invading my space, and … well … dead.
Of the many memorable mouse moments from that time in the country, the following one stands out:
It is night – almost my bedtime. As usual, the Cowboy is away from home for work so I am on my own.
Sweetie, Peaches and Babe have been put to bed and I am in the dimly lit kitchen doing last minute puttering before heading to my own bed. Out of the corner of my eye I see movement.
There, scurrying along the wall is a tiny fuzzy creature. I jump onto the nearest chair and scream into my hands (so as not to wake the sleeping children, of course).
Before I’m done screaming the critter has scooted into the old fashioned heating vent and disappeared.
I gather my wits and do the only thing I can think of doing.
I build a barricade – in the doorway between the kitchen and the rest of the house. (This was long before I knew mice could climb and jump. Yes. Yes they can.)
When the Cowboy comes home on the weekend, I am leaving for a conference. I tell him that by the time I arrive home at the end of the weekend I need every last mouse gone from the house, please.
Sure enough, they are. Not only are they all gone, every crack and cranny around the outside of the house has been filled with insulating foam sealant.
(That’s the thing about cowboys. They will do everything in their power to protect their women.)
Several years later we moved to the city. But, just like the children’s book says, there are city mice too. And they liked to visit the cupboard under my kitchen sink, and run around under the stove.
Babe’s cat liked to play with them.
The door to Babe’s room faces the basement stairs. One day as she came out of her room she saw a mouse fly through the air across the opening to the stairs down below. She screamed, “Mom!” and I came running.
Turns out, the cat was playing. Only he didn’t know the mouse wasn’t playing back. He was chasing the critter, tossing it into the air, waiting for it to land and start running away so he could chase it again.
By the time we got there, the little creature was exhausted and barely moving. The cat was visibly disappointed with his playmate, and quickly losing interest.
I grabbed a nearby bucket to trap the thing under before he got his second (or third or fourth) wind. But my timing was off, and I caught him half in and half out. There he lay, body under the bucket and head out, with the rim cutting across his throat, looking me dead in the eye (no pun intended).
A thought scrabbled its away across my mind … I strangled a mouse today …
I didn’t mean to. It just happened. But I was glad he wasn’t running around my feet.
After that incident, and the one when I accidentally poured a drowned mouse down the garbage disposal, the Cowboy and a helpful son-in-law went around the outside of the house and meticulously foamed in all the cracks they could find.
We had no mice in the house for a long time.
Then … we renovated the sunroom.
Somewhere a new mouse doorway has been opened up. Because suddenly, one of the squeakers dashes across my path in the kitchen.
In plain view!
I’ll admit he must be as startled as I am because he’s having trouble scrambling in a straight line.
The Cowboy takes care of things quickly and efficiently after receiving the PLEASE COME HOME NOW! text. And he promises to seal off any new openings.
A couple of weeks later I hear unusual noises coming from under my stove. To be on the safe side, I lay 3 large sticky traps end to end in front of the stove.
In the evening I turn off the TV when I hear it again.
“Do you hear that?” I ask the Cowboy.
“It’s the fridge,” says he.
“It’s NOT the fridge,” say I.
The next morning, there are two tiny legs sticking out from under the stove. The Cowboy pulls the sticky trap into full view to unveil a stuck mouse, and glued right next to him … a toy car.
Which makes me wonder … was he playing with that toy? Was he giving it a push, there in the safety of the under-the-stove and racing to see who got to the other side first? Was he actually entertaining himself? I suppose only God can know the mind of a mouse.
However, I have learned other things about mice I never would have known had I not experienced these disturbing episodes in my life. That’s the thing about annoying, disturbing, difficult life occurrences. You learn. And then you can pass on the knowledge, wisdom and experience to others going through the same ordeal.
If you want to know if you have a mouse problem, invite me to your house. I know the sights, smells, and sounds to look for. I know how high to build your barricades. I know the most effective traps to use. I know how tiny a crack they can fit through. I know their favourite toys now. And, I can identify mouse innards, just in case you’re preparing for a biology exam.
They may be cute and furry but they don’t belong in my space. They’re messy disease carrying rodents. They have no business in my cupboards, on my countertops, or under my stove playing with toys that don’t belong to them.
That’s why, until the foam sealant gets applied, I have 3 traps on the floor in front of my stove and no fewer than 7 under my sink. Because I believe the best defence is a good offence.
Don’t get me started on moths.