The Mouse War

Living in the country, you get mice coming in every winter. Never fails. We’ve even had a shrew in the living room. Gloom Dog dealt with it.

We also get very high humidity in summer. Weeks of rain, saturated ground, then one warm sunny day and you can hardly breathe. It’s even worse outside than inside. For this reason, as well as the annual mice, anything that can be affected by humidity or mice is in plastic, glass or metal containers. Sugar, rice, flour, pasta, anything like that.

This year the little hairy bastards have been especially persistent. Every one we kill is instantly replaced. I’m really glad we don’t have a hoard of flour or pasta, nor a hoard of lovely nesting materials like toilet paper. We’d be overrun, as the hoarders will be soon. We have just enough to store safely.

This is the first year I’ve caught them running across the kitchen worktops. So this year, the Mouse War has gone nuclear. I have seven traps and eleven bait stations around the house. It’s a big house and we rarely use most of the upstairs rooms anyway – especially in winter because there’s no heating up there. All of them are now death traps.

The only food available to the mice (aside from the Death Blocks and Springy Head Smashers) is Gloom Dog’s dry food supply. Gloom Dog does not appreciate her food being stolen so she has stomped a few – and has become better at it since she’s realised she gets rewarded with bacon for every stomping. Since Gloom Dog has her nose in absolutely everything (painting skirting boards is a nightmare) all the Death Blocks have to be encased in the Boxes of Doom that only the mice can get into. Fortunately these are cheap, I bought one big one in Home Bargains and a pack of 10 smaller ones on Amazon. The Death Blocks are cheap too. I’m currently using Roshield which is working.

Gloom Dog has been ill recently. The vet has her on four medications at once so she’s now Stoner Dog. She’s a less effective mouser after she gets her daily dose of painkiller and then just lies around watching the rainbow dragons dance. She’s recovering though, she’ll be back on stomping duty soon.

I handle the Death Blocks with latex gloves on – one of many recent benefits of having all my lab stuff here now. I don’t know if mouse poison can be absorbed through skin and I’m not willing to chance it. This isn’t a suicide mission.

I know, there are humane mouse traps that let the hairy ninjas live but once you’ve seen one run out from behind the bread bin and dive behind the cooker, you can forget humane methods. These things have got to go.

In summer I have to find out where they get in. That won’t be easy, there is one hell of a perimeter around this place and parts of it have been losing mortar since the 1700s. I suspect the utility room, since it has the walls built in 1830 still as exposed stone on the inside. There are bound to be holes in there. They don’t need to be very big holes. If you can poke a pencil through, a mouse can get through.

I have considered offering my cousins a free holiday, the ones who are in the building trade. They’d have that room fully pointed and rendered in no time. Unfortunately they live in Wales, they are always busy, and travel is going to be restricted this summer. My mother had planned to visit next month for my 60th birthday but that’s out of the question now. I might not even be able to see my kids by then.

I was lucky to get to my father’s funeral which was very well attended. Funerals are now restricted to immediate family only and all the churches are closed. I read out a version of this at my dad’s funeral. It didn’t seem real until the curtains closed around the coffin at the crematorium. The only shaft of sunlight that whole day rested on the curtains as they closed. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but my son built the casket for my father’s ashes. He learned his woodworking skills from my father so it was very fitting indeed.

So, I am engaged in a war on the mice. Not a war on the Chinese virus (Oh yes it is) because self isolation is no issue for someone who hasn’t even bothered to get dressed for the last few days. The mice, for me, are a more pressing concern right now.

Also the eleventh Underdog Anthology. It is going to be delayed but it is going ahead. As it’s all online there are no contamination issues. Payments will be PayPal or bank transfer. I’m uninfected but I’m not sending cheques because that would force people to go to the bank which will be full of potential plague carriers. Bank branches are likely to be closed soon anyway. Within the UK I can get Amazon to send books directly to those who prefer to be paid that way.

Gradually, life is getting back up to speed. Although I might yet have to spend a night in the kitchen on a swivel chair, holding a crossbow, if the poison doesn’t get the little buggers.

21 thoughts on “The Mouse War

  1. “I might yet have to spend a night in the kitchen on a swivel chair, holding a crossbow”

    I would advise against doing this whilst on the Vin Rouge a la Jezzer Clarkson going after his fox. You stand to lose some very valuable and historically important artifacts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They don’t need to be very big holes. If you can poke a pencil through, a mouse can get through.

    Strange, but true. One of my mice in the plastic recycling box (my internment camp for illegal immigrants prior to release) managed to jump up and hang from the top of the box (the lid was closed, naturally) while gnawing a hole about the diameter of a pencil and scarpering. The plastic wasn’t thin and the hole was nice and circular.

    I think he was maybe the last one, all the rest having either been released or killed by the mutt. At first, after I saw the empty box and the hole, I was annoyed at having been outwitted by a mouse, but when I saw it from his point of view, I had respect for his ingenuity and strength – perspicacity, even? – and so I let him off the hook and never saw him again and haven’t seen a mouse since.

    It’s reassuring having a dog around, especially one with a large hooter that knows where the little beggars are.

    Have you heard of mouse mesh? https://www.mousemesh.co.uk/ Sounds like you need more drastic building repairs, though. Or a clan of cats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mouse mesh is good but I’m thinking dig down around the perimeter (it’s all flower beds) and put in a thick layer of concrete. They can climb so any holes further up the walls have to be filled too.
      There are feral cats around, also owls and even a pine marten. Maybe that’s why they come in. The farmer has seen the pine marten in his grain store so that’s not a safe place for them, even though it’s mere yards away and loaded with food…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in the Adirondack Mountains of northern NY. We also have mice as a rule, being in a heavily wooded area. I’ve found that peanut butter and a small piece of dog food on the trap is a double whammy most can’t refuse. I recall one time where I nabbed one, reset the trap, and no sooner did I kill the lights to go to bed SNAP! Twofer! The problem is, we have the “no-see-um” traps and after a few kills they need cleaning. The others can apparently smell death. I’ve also used a shop vac on 2 I cornered under the stove. “Thwoomp, thwoomp!” Dead as a doornail.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had become aware of seemingly increased mouse activity for a while, though I rarely saw them and they didn’t seem to be getting into any food or stuff.

    And then one day I went into the back of an undercabinet to pull out my 20 unopened bag of rice.

    ::sigh::

    They’d made an entire city amidst the rice treasure trove.

    Great time to discover my great “rice backup” was now about half made of mouse turds and the other half was clearly not edible outside of total starvation. :/

    Ahhh well….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haven’t seen a live mouse in 40 years, I heavily recommend small furry killers of the purring variety (who also make useful footwarmers btw) The younger of my two would not care in the least about Gloom Dog’s disapproval since he’s a stripey incarnation of Nanny Ogg’s Greebo. Older one has brought in at various times a seagull, grass snakes and two bats the latter makes me think he may have access to a small anti aircraft gun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have two mouse stories from when I was a child, living above the market on Electric Avenue in Brixton. We lived above a bakers so there probably were more incidents but I only remember two. Probably because mum told the stories so well; I will try to do her justice…

    *Alright, hold ya ‘orses, Clicky… /lights up and smokes…*

    … The first involved my granddad, who chased a mouse around our kitchen with a full nappy that he’d been asked to dispose of. He eventually walloped the mouse to death but mum was not happy with the ensuing mess…

    *Yeah, it was about the size of her chin… /flicks ASH… Full of it…*

    … The second involved Cat Baloo, our moggy. She was a good mouser. One morning she caught a mouse and proceeded to play with it, patting it this was and that, toying with it. This upset me and my sister, so Mum decided to get rid of the mouse ‘humanely’… by flushing it down the toilet…

    *Not half as shocked as mum was to discover the mouse could swim, Clicky. Every time she flushed, up it popped, doing the breaststroke…*

    Like

    • Daughter’s boyfriend has one too. His grandma’s cat brought in a mouse she thought was dead. She threw it on the fire. Turns out it was just playing dead so they then had to chase Fireball Mouse through the living room before it set fire to everything.

      Naturally the cat wouldn’t touch it once it was in flames.

      Liked by 1 person

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