Aid and Comfort

The uninitiated may not recognize it, but this is a rodent utopia... 

The uninitiated may not recognize it, but this is a rodent utopia... 

This past summer I wrote about having a mouse in my car. That episode ended with a declaration of victory, as I gloated over the body of my enemy.

I may have won the battle, but the war appears not to be over.

When the fields come down the mice (and the shrews and the deer and...) evacuate and look for new shelter. What became clear, upon examination, is that we were offering that shelter in our garage - in effect, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Aid and comfort, in this case, in the form of clutter and bird seed.

This intrusion was detected in a fashion that presented a sense of deja vu strong enough to make me wonder if I really was in The Matrix, given that it involved detecting entry into a bag of pistachios. Again. A bag that LB and I had been eating out of just a few minutes before.

It wasn't a large hole this time, but rather a couple of smaller holes in the side of the bag towards the bottom. These were small enough that I tried to convince myself that it was from throwing the bag in the back of the car with other items, that it was simply torn up a bit. But then I pulled a bag out of the back of the car and found the edge of it had been chewed on. It was just a little bit, mind you, but clearly chewed on, and I knew...

Pulling everything out of the hatch of the car and checking the spare tire compartment under the floor revealed that the enemy had established a base in my territory, and they were clearly recruiting new soldiers - there were babies, which had fallen out of the nest as I was moving things around. No quarter had been asked, and so none was given - green recruits or not, I showed no mercy. Of course, while the offspring had been vulnerable and revealed, the parents were still nowhere to be found.

Then, a few days later, it became clear that at least one of them had died somewhere in the car. I say "somewhere", because wherever it was, I was not able to locate it. Based upon how much worse it got when one activated the ventilation system, however, one suspects that it was somewhere in the vents. Needless to say, we took several trips with the windows always down at least a little bit. In November.

The weekend after Thanksgiving LB and I tackled the problem by cleaning out the garage and setting traps in both cars. The garage part of the project itself was long overdue, and involved removal of a couple of very large bags of birdseed - the 20# variety - neither of which appeared to have an unshelled sunflower seed left in them. We also, as noted before, cleared out an extensive amount of the clutter that had been gathered over the course of the spring and summer. This, again, reflecting one of the difficulties with being a part-time homesteader: I've wanted to clean the garage out for some time, but it just hasn't been something I've been able to prioritize. For every trade off like that there is a price to pay.

Before starting the cleanup of the garage LB and I traveled to a hated large big-box store to gather additional weaponry (traps) and set them up in both cars. We actually caught our first mouse, in MLW's car, before we had finished cleaning the garage. In the week or so that has followed we have managed to take out six additional mice. For those keeping score, we've caught six of the seven on snap traps, and one on glue traps. Two of the snap traps - part of the additional supplies we'd gathered - are an apparently new design by Victor, the folks that make the traditional wood snap trap that you likely picture any time you hear the word "mousetrap". It's made of plastic rather than wood, and has a little bait well that the mouse has to push his evil little nose into. Lifting the lid on the well triggers the snap. I was skeptical, but the big-box store didn't have any wood traps, so I bought them.

They work very well. They are actually easier to set - you just pull the snap arm back, there's no fiddling with hooking the restraining bar on the bait doohickey. Also, it appears that, most of the time the mouse is actually unable to get at the bait, which means that it doesn't have to be refilled nearly as often.

Unfortunately, my early success with this new weaponry made me complacent. I'd taken out seven of them between the two cars, and each time required a resetting, and sometimes re-baiting of traps, and so it became easy to set the traps aside to deal with later. Lack of mousey evidence gave a sense of confidence.

And then, the day before yesterday there was a pile of nesting material on the floor of my car, having apparently fallen down from the inside of the dashboard. The battle is not the war, and the war, clearly, must be waged further.

This left me wondering: should I have put the heads of the previous mice on spikes as a warning to others?

But that seems impractical...