We’ve been dealing with a mouse problem. I hate to say it, but we’ve had. We had a mouse problems a few years ago. Knut usually set out poison in the barn and unfinished basement, and it wasn’t a problem…until one day I was cleaning out the kids’ toy boxes and saw the mice had nested piles of the poison in the corners of each and every cubby basket. I freaked out, as you can imagine. Then, even though I’ve never been a cat person, we got a bunch of the sweetest, most social barn cats from a friend of a friend to replace the poison. We haven’t seen a mouse since. Sure, we see evidence they leave behind in the unfinished parts of the basement, or outside, but for the most part, we can pretend they aren’t there.
Until this Spring. I’ve seen the cats play with mice pretty much constantly outside lately. I’ve seen 3 mice come out into the open in our house in the last 2 weeks. Also, the back hall closet had some…movement. We’d be sitting in the den, watching a movie, and we’d hear them squeaking, running around, etc. It gives me shivers just to think about it. I knew it needed a good clean out, but I was afraid if I cleaned it out I’d find…well, mice. Live. Mice. And I don’t like to find them. I stand on tables around them…not go out of my way to find where they live.
So Knut got these super awesome traps, and we set them in the closet and then he’d check them twice a day, and for the last week or so, there was at least one mouse found there at each check. That’s every 12 hours we were catching at least 1 mouse. I figured we’d get rid of all of them, THEN I’d clean it out when the coast was clear.
I know I’m a scaredy cat. I admit that openly.
But yesterday, Knut cleaned out the traps when he got up in the morning. Then while we were eating breakfast, we heard both traps go off. I was so grossed out at the consistency we were catching them, I said “That’s it! That’s it! We are cleaning it out TODAY!” I was planning on doing it this weekend, but I couldn’t live with them in there anymore. I was planning on doing some cooking for the rest of our busy week, and get a few projects done. All of it was canceled. The mice needed to be evicted.
So obviously, I paid one of my kids to do it. David’s my big strong man of the house when Knut is planting the fields during spring work. Then we broke house rules and brought a series of barn cats inside to supervise his work. Only 1 of the 3 cats we chose to bring inside showed any interest in chasing the mice that we found. The other 2 were overfed…and they have barely touched the food we give them lately. There’s been a lot of mice in the barn too. But I don’t live there.
It’s what we get living yards from the farm’s grain bins, I guess. It’s just been a bad spring in that department. We are down to only 5 cats right now too, and the mice problem is really more under control when we are between 8-10. We think one of our cats, Midnight, might be pregnant right now, so…I hope so. Believe me, I’ve asked the humane society for cats, multiple times, but they say cats aren’t for chasing mice, and they will only give out declawed, inside cats that sit around all day. Those cats sound bored. Our cats have all sorts of fun. We feed them and take care of them. They get a ton of affection from multiple people in our family. They just have a job to do…and they love to do it. We have a philosophy that animals are happiest when they are doing what they were bred to do. Missy is happiest outside chasing predators. She is constantly scanning the horizon for threats. It fills her heart with joy. You can see it all over her face. Lena is a companion dog, and is happiest when toddlers are using her as a pillow, or playing fetch. The chickens like to eat bugs and scratching the dirt. So we don’t keep them in a room and feed them specially formulated food, and cut their beaks off because they can get bored and peck each other like commercial operations. We let them all over the yard to dig for bugs, and eat all the ticks we seem to breed there. They are so happy and don’t bug each other, and I really think it effects the quality of our eggs. Our cats are hunters. I cannot imagine them being happy not hunting. It’s all about respecting the animal.
Mice have the job of dying. I have no sympathy for them. I know God created them too, but…I just can’t. They’re food for cats. That’s their purpose in my mind.
We’ve also learned that animals are essential to avoiding chemicals. If we didn’t have free range chickens, we would spend hundreds of dollars a year spraying for ticks in the yard. Before chickens, we picked 2 ticks off our kids a day. Since we got chickens a few years ago, we see 1-2 a year. If we didn’t have cats, we’d have to go back to putting poison everywhere and find it in the kids’ toy boxes again. If we didn’t have Missy, the chickens couldn’t range and find ticks. If we didn’t have Lena, we’d have to buy real floor pillows.
Well, once everything was out, and everything was vacuumed up, David decided he didn’t want to do anymore. He was so overwhelmed with the mess. The closet contents were spewed across 2 rooms in all of it’s mouse chewed/pooped glory. I rubbed some essential oils that deter mice all over the floor and baseboards of the closet. We took a trip (it ended up being 2 trips) to town to get plastic tubs to put everything in. This closet under the stairs stores the bulk flour, wheat, rice, oatmeal, etc. for the family. One half bag of flour was ruined, but the rest of the food was untouched because it was actually stored better. They’re all in tubs now anyway. Some of the Christmas boxes were chewed through, and several party things, and a hodgepodge of items were chewed through. I threw away about a 1/3 of the closet’s content because the mice had ruined it in some fashion. So today we have to take a trip to the dump. (We don’t get trash pick up way out here. We try to recycle as much as we can to avoid trips to the dump, but this stuff seriously needs to go.) Everything got crazy clean before it went back into storage, and I think I cleaned the rooms I was sorting through all this stuff in about 4 times after it was all gone.
The good news is that I had to get rid of so much stuff that my vacuum fits in there again. So that’s a bonus.
And this morning? The traps were full again. So I guess the cats missed a few. Actually, I think we’ll be catching them for awhile, but with an aggressively clean space, they’ll start running out of food options. I hope. I’m not ready for an inside cat yet. Don’t tell Silje, but this event has nearly brought me there. That’s how traumatizing it’s been.