Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Of Mice and Irony.

So, I was once again a magnet for the iron in the universe.  In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of mice in my blog, .Of Mice and Men.  In answer, the universe infested upon me a blessing of mice in my house.

The first warning I had was the ominous chewing sound late at night, when the house is blessedly quiet, and I was busy working on my novel.  As soon as I heard it, I knew what it was.  There was a mouse, living in my house, busy chewing through something best left unchewed.  I hate that sound.  I stalked around trying to locate where the damage was being done.  It was coming from somewhere around the vent to our oven - which leads right outside.  When it heard me rummaging around, it went quiet as a - dare I say it? - mouse.  Having no stalking options other than knocking a whole in my wall, I went back to my writing.

Two days later, in the quiet of the night, I heard the dreaded chewing again.  I got up and followed it out to the kitchen.  I followed it to the stairs leading to our basement.  I called quietly to our dog Knight who is a black toy poodle.  The small poodles were bred to be ratters so I called him over and pointed down the stairs and said, "Go get it Knight! Go get the mouse." He got all excited but had no idea what I was talking about, so I headed down stairs.  When I was about three steps down, I realized that the chewing was coming from my left at about head height - the pantry.

I opened the pantry doors and the chewing stopped.  Our pantry was designed by some goofball who didn't understand that pantries were supposed to make it easy to store and retrieve things.  The pantry is, like, fifteen feet long inside with shelves the whole way and the doors are about twelve.  This gives us a sizable area for things to be pushed into and lost.  The chewing was coming from the floor in that area.  I started pulling things out while Knight watched me with growing excitement.  When I got to the Sargasso of our pantry, I had to get down on my hands and knees to reach the detritus that  had collected there over the ages.  I pulled out an old bag of paper plates when I first saw the mouse.  Knight saw it too and ran in past me.  He started digging around, looking for it.  He never saw it, but he flushed it out and as it ran towards me, I trapped it with a plastic storage container.   I used to own Gerbils who would get free from time to time, so I'm pretty good at catching little scurrying rodents without hurting them.

I got a thin lid and shoved it carefully under the bowl.  You have to be quite careful because if you lift the bowl more than something like a quarter of an inch, that mouse will be out of there in a flash. Once I successfully got the lid under it, I picked up the container and turned it over.  The container and lid were opaque so I wasn't sure if I had actually caught the mouse.  They can be tricky that way. I had to turn my back to Knight as well because, though he never saw the mouse, he knew I had something in my container and he kept jumping up to get a look at it.

I very carefully opened the lid the tiniest amount that I could - if you give them too much room, they will pop right out of there and be gone before you can blink.  There inside was a sight that could cause dread in any home-owner.  It was a tiny little mouse.  Obviously young and inexperienced.  That could mean only one thing: there was a mama mouse in my house pumping out babies.  This hunt was only the initial salvo in a war of man against mouse.  The next morning my daughter and I took the mouse down to the field (after she begged to keep it ) and let it go.

On the positive side, I cleaned out the pantry from decades of buildup and found several things that had mysteriously gone missing long ago.  I also found where the mouse had made its nest.  It had chewed through the plastic around a bag of cups and made a little nest of chewed cup and plastic in the end cup.  It had also filled the cup, and the cupboard with mouse droppings.  To be perfectly honest, mouse droppings are the worst part of having mice

The next day we went right out and bought a couple of 'humane' mouse traps, loaded them with peanut butter, and put them in the pantry and other strategic places in the forlorn hope that we could catch them before they grew up and breed some more.

If you are wondering, the traps didn't work