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.