Of Mice and Men
We live in a converted barn in the country. Lucky you, I hear you say. Not so. For conversion read given a lick of paint and had a dubious d.i.y. of electrics and plumbing bodged in by the previous owners. How they got it past planning I don’t know. Or maybe they didn’t? But... that’s a fleeting worry.
More pressing worries have been gnawing away in a more ‘pattering of tiny feet’ sort of way. On our work surface, on top of our bread bin, in our cupboards, under our freezer, behind our dish-washer – just about everywhere. In the kitchen … and in the bathroom … and in the bedrooms.
Not just one family either, these have come in the field, house, and yellow variety, with the occasional field vole and bank vole dropping in to make up numbers.
Now we’re both animal lovers but rodents on the loose, in your home, is a different thing altogether. My partner’s animal loving instincts were very soon overtaken by the overwhelming desire to kill them. His verbose ideas including treading on them, crushing them, splattering them and blowing them to bits …
Not for the faint hearted and definitely not approaches that I would feel happy with.
So, I Googled ‘humane mouse deterrents’ and several weeks later and several hundred pounds lighter, I think they have been deterred! But the in-between-time has been a nightmare. Not so much of the mice’s making, although they were complicit, but to be honest more of my partners.
I purchased all manner of ultra sonic repellers – some designed to omit high pitch squeals (only discernable by rodents apparently), and some designed to send pulses down the electric cables, which, bearing in mind our iffy electrics, was a bit of a high risk strategy.
Well these were completely ineffectual. We actually saw mice sat directly in front of them, preening.
I bought an assortment of humane traps – from those with a helpful glass roof (so you can actually see if you’ve been lucky and enticed them in), to those with little a grill on the side, where the only way you can tell if you have been successful is by hearing the frantic scratching of the prisoners or by seeing their little noses pushed up against the side.
I also bought an auto-detect spy camera so we could try and be one step ahead and see how the blighters were getting in and out.
To give my grumpy partner his due he spent hours and hours filling holes in the floorboards, holes in the walls, holes in the beams. There were holes every bloody-where.
It turns out that our conversion didn’t exactly have a quality finish. We had to take the kitchen cupboards out, only to find that underneath them the floorboards didn’t reach the skirting boards, and the skirting boards didn’t reach the walls. No wonder our uninvited house guests had found their way in. He also fitted draft excluders to the bottom of every door. (Needless to say the doors hadn’t fitted either, and there was a good inch beneath them, so once in, the vermin, in residence, had convenient access to every room).
It was all very hard work.
Becoming experts in the subject, by now, I can knowledgeably inform you that, if you have a gap the circumference of a Bic biro, a mouse can squeeze through it. Maybe Bic came up with that one, as an off the wall marketing idea.
Meanwhile, I was busy baiting the traps every night and eventually we started having some success. Our nubile nibblers then being taken for a car-ride before being re-housed in a carefully chosen hedgerow complete with nutritious berries and a near-by natural water supply.
Then, two weeks ago things came to a head. My partner declared that he couldn’t stand it any longer! Divorce was imminent. The camera had revealed that there was still a mouse left in the kitchen. He knew this because he was watching the camera video play-back on the T.V. in the lounge. “The little bastard shit’s still in there!” “It’s D E A D tomorrow!” he shouted. And when I say he shouted, I mean he BAWLED! I was sat in my office at my desk, at the time (two rooms away, but I couldn’t miss the sentiment), and to add to the angst, in walked a bank vole. Large as life and actually quite cute. (I had left the door open – foolish really but it was the middle of the day and normally our guests are only active at night). I screamed, not because it was terrifying but because it made me jump! My partner came in to investigate and in doing so left the door to the lounge open…..
Five minutes later, whilst he was still watching the (hopefully last) mouse in the house, on T.V., the bank vole had found its way into the lounge to join him …
Now, I know I shouldn’t laugh … but … the image of my partner ranting and raving whilst watching said delinquent mouse on T.V.. and then being accompanied by a vole became too much for me and I burst into shrieks of laughter. You know, that tears lolloping down your cheeks, totally hysterical, and not going to stop type? “He’s come to watch the film,” I guffawed.
Well, that did it. My partner threw his arms in the air and stormed out of the room threatening all many of murders to rodents and fellow dwellers (me).
There is a post-script to this story too. One week, and seven very leaden sulky nights later, Montague (well he’d been with us for so long now I felt I just had to name him) still hadn’t been caught, my partner wasn’t speaking to me (as if I personally was responsible) and the day of the big kill loomed ever near.
Then, one night, when I had gone to bed early to escape to the fraught atmosphere, my partner shouted up “We’ve got him!” “Wow, that’s brilliant,” I replied and I offered to get up to take him to the hedgerow where he could catch up with his friends. “It’s O.K. I’ll do it”, my partner said (clearly relieved and hopefully feeling a bit guilty about his slightly O.T.T. mood and belligerence). “Thanks – that’s great,” I replied, also very, very relieved that Montague was about to be on his way.
Thirty minutes later my partner arrived home. “Did Montague leap very high?” I asked, curious. Some of our visitors had been very athletic.
”He wasn’t there!” came the reply.
”What do you mean he wasn’t there?”
”What I said! When I opened the trap lid, it was empty!!
Well, I’ll end this episode here, because that was over a week ago … and where Montague might now be, twixt our house and the hedgerow, after travelling by car? Well that’s a different story!
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> True Stories