Friday, May 8, 2020

Little Victories

I had no idea when I went to see it how much
this movie would direct the forces in my life.

Longtime readers may recall that Fat Cat, having used up all nine lives, shuffled off her feline coil last Thanksgiving. So, as sure as God makes little green apples, a couple of weeks afterwards, the landlord decided to upgrade plumbing hereabouts.

Goofus #1 and Goofus #2 employed to do the job were earnest, if not very bright, plumbers, and they managed to get the digs' piping upgraded, and with only three tries, finally sweated the final fitting right, and stopped the leak they created.

Buuuuuut...they left gaping holes in the sheetrock where they dropped new lines to replace the old copper tubing. Way up in the attic space, but still...

Consequently, there lately was newly heard a rustling and bustling up thataways, where normally only old boxes sit, and the only residents are dust bunnies and ghost turds.

Until last month.

I know this, because old potato chip bags that fall behind the trash bin do not, as a rule, chew themselves to small ribbons.

Then there was a regular rustling behind piles of piles around the manor.

Rodents in the wire! Set off the claymores!

Knowing that I have, when there's a local heatwave, propped open the front door to capture a breeze now and again, I was afraid that, like one brief incident decades hence, I might have inadvertently invited Mssr. Rat in to set up residence.

That was bad enough.  Having no desire to share space and have to deal with Kung Flu and plague-carrying rabid sewer rats, I began removing possible hiding places from among the piles of grown-up toys, ammunition for same, books, and other research material in the various corners of the lair. But a couple of weeks later, as I whittled down the available hiding spaces, imagine my shocked surprise when, instead of some monstrous Norwegian Brown Sewer Rat, my late night visit to the loo revealed a couple of field mice, in flagrante delicto.
The brazen rodentious bastards.

And, in what quickly became apparent, they had obviously brought their relatives and relations.
Such that
1) containment measures that would suffice for Mssr. Rat would not work on an animal that can get through a dime-sized knothole, and
2) They had already escaped containment, and decamped to the four corners of my fiefdom.
3) Which, thanks to the gorram Kung Flu, is now awash in potential mouse food, much of it so new I haven't had time to decant it into mouseproof sealed metal cans and food-grade buckets yet. And which, if they get into it, will beget a never-ending sh*tstorm of well-fed mice.

F**k that very much, thanks.

They sure as hell aren't getting any of my chow, no effing way.
Having some wee experience with the little rodentious bastards, and the campaign awards to prove it, I hie myself to Orange Box, and grab a package of Mk. I Traps, Mouse, (4)@. And, Callooh! Callay! Sam's Club gifted me a few months back with a free tasty retort packet of honey-peanut butter.

I bait my trap line, and set the ambush.

I have thus been greeted by a steadily increasing bodycount this week, until this morning, on arising, the last rodentious p.o.s. was found dispatched.
O frabjous day! 
I have since patched the holes in the sheetrock, on my side and the neighbor's side of the wall, so they won't be getting in again. Other than animals I've brought home, the biggest problem I've had were ants and the occasional spider.

But seriously, them getting in just after the lifelong unemployed cat, who would have made sport of them, had permanently departed, and just at the beginning of a pandemic where stored food could be kind of a big thing? WTAF?!? What are the odds of that?
I was looking for the hidden camera, I swear.

"Nine godless communist thieving mice dispatched, all weapons functional,  local patrols report no enemy within the AO. All enemy buried at sea via indoor plumbing. Area all secured."

And a moral to the story:
The little things and minor details, no matter how implausible, can always make any disaster go from bad to worse, just when you least expect it.
Like I needed reminding that Murphy is a right bastard.


Anonymous said...

A cat is a rat is a boy is a dog is a mouse. PETA sez you are a serial killer. "SARC".

idahobob said...

The only good mouse in the abode is the dead one. Since moving into new digs, I haven't had to put up my trap line for the little rodents.

ASM826 said...

Pictures like that last one always remind that if all you see is free cheese, it's time to pause until you see the trap.

Avalanche said...

"All enemy buried at sea via indoor plumbing."

Next up: had to call the plumber in to clear the blocked-by-wee-mousies drain pipe?

Things that make you go: "oh-no! You di-in't?!"

Rollory said...

You know about the Mark 2 mousetrap? They did finally build a better one.

What it is:

- a large, slick-and-steep-sided pail, half-full of water
- a well-greased dowel rod, long enough to span the pail, with pins stuck in the end for an axle. Set this up so it spans the pail and can spin freely without falling (poke holes or notches for it to rest in)
- nice clear mouse-paths leading up to the top of the pail near the dowel rod ends. 2-by-4 ramps leading up there will do nicely.
- a chunk of peanut butter, securely fastened to the underside of the middle of the dowel. (Maybe tied on with a loop of dental floss or something similar, so it stays on the low side while the dowel spins)

How it works:
Mr. Mouse, on his nightly constitutional, works his way up the ramp, smells peanut butter. runs out along the top of the dowel, tries to work his way around to the bottom to grab the peanut butter, his grip slips on the well-greased rod, he falls into the water, he swims around for a while until he gets exhausted and drowns.

Then, Mr. Mouse's cousin, on his nightly constitutional ....

The beauty of this is that you don't need to reset it for each mouse and it can take out an indefinite number of mice one after another.

We live in an old house where securing everything from small-scale intrusion is totally impossible. We used to have a cat who was the best damn hunter you ever saw: you'd let him outside in the morning, and within five minutes, no more, he'd be set up in the middle of the lawn, digging into his mouse breakfast. Most amazing thing I ever saw. And he'd catch more over the course of the rest of the day. He did that for two years straight, every single day without exception. Then he started venturing across the nearest busy road - presumably because he'd actually managed to exterminate most of the local prey. With unfortunately predictable consequences.

Our current cats are fairly young and never figured out that mice can be eaten, but they definitely figured out that mice are hugely tremendous fun to chase and catch and release and pounce on and listen to the outraged squeaking. We had some incursions, but those stopped, I get the impression it was from sheer terror. We have managed to train them to avoid the road - they'll go up and sit in the bushes near it and watch the sights, but never set foot on it.

There's also a semi-feral that we started leaving food outside for as incentive to stick around; he's definitely a professional hunter, as he only takes us up on the offer half the time. But with plenty of broad winks indicating appreciation.

Tractorguy said...

Oh I loved your story and that picture :) :) :) Got 'im! A nice much-needed break from all the bad news lately.

Night driver said...

There exists a tool, rather slightly more expensive than your set of four, which does indeed require 4 AA batteries, and fries the little beasties with a flash and a bang.
Called the Rat Zapper.
Ace Hardware carries this little joy-box.

Chaos Manor Midwest had become home to WAY too many of these critters and we ended up opting for one of these reloadable Nuke Boxes.

Super results and no real muss nor fuss for disposal.

Yes, by the time we had gotten all of the beasties I was down near your cost-per-body though the initial investment was WELL north of yours.

Night Driver.

Unknown said...

This made me laugh so hard because we experienced the same type of incursion this week. It appears the single infiltrator has been summarily dispatched in like manner. However, our cat lives and we will be having frank discussions with her regarding the nature of her employment, which I am sure she will listen to attentively and act accordingly.

James M Dakin said...

Mice are vicious bastards. They can't eat coffee ( I hope it gave some a heart attack ), but they sure ruined the whole bag of beans just proving that to themselves. Then, they crapped all over my books, on shelves. How can you mess with the two most important things, books and coffee? Unacceptable. The storage food, I can take the loss. My fault for forgetting I put them down there and not placing in totes. But to soil my books and ruin my coffee because if they couldn't have it, nobody could? D-Con are rat bastards themselves, what they charge for poison, but still the best $20 I've spent in a very long while. Don't let anyone tell you violent revenge isn't most satisfying.

The Freeholder said...

Five cats. The two youngest are most excellent hunters by all indications. That plus the companionship is well worth the cat food and vet costs. And the clawed furniture and woodwork.

Nick Flandrey said...

I spent over a year battling rats in the attic and garage, eating all my preps. The rat bastards at a whole bucket of sugar in a day or so, going right thru the gamma seal lid. The ruined lid and bucket cost more than the contents, but it was educational how much and how quickly they can eat.

Rats are smart. Rats communicate. The trap needs to kill them before they can warn their fellows. Most of the traps will work ONCE due to this combination.

They can get out of glue traps by urinating and then thrashing loose, or by flipping over and then 'scraping' the pad off. Staple down the pads and check them often. Mr Shovel takes care of the captive survivior.

They are very good at eating the bait on traditional snap traps, or jumping clear when they are activated. I've seen it.

Surround the snap traps with glue pads and you'll get some that you'd otherwise miss.

The bucket with ramp and log roll didn't work at all for me. Not one rat fell for it.

All I accomplished with traps was to train them to avoid peanut butter...

Poison works. It's the only thing that eventually cured my rat problem.

You will end up with dead rats inside a wall or ceiling though.

The prepper lesson to learn is - get some rodent control (and all your garden pest control) BEFORE you need it. Get lots more than you think you'll need.


ADS said...

I have the same setup as Rollory and can vouch for its effectiveness. It also removes the need to handle the dead ones during reset, I just slosh the bucket out into the ditch. I live in an older house surrounded by corn fields; the mouse population is enormous and my basement very inviting in the cold months. I remove fifty mice or so over the course of an average winter.

Old NFO said...

Yep, they're running amok out here in Texas right now too... Sigh... There isn't any food in the trashcans down at the park, so they are fanning out!

Pat H. said...

Careful, southern California is a huge reservoir of rodents carrying Hantavirus.

Robert said...

I take General Order #1 seriously where mice are concerned. Lil bastids... I recently found mouse evidence at my mother's house; I deployed claymore analogues to great effect.

Re the logbook entries: friggin' mil has no sense of humor. I spent a tedious four-hour watch perusing some hilarious logbook entries about mice getting underway and shifting colors. Good times...

FredLewers said...

A good cat is a priceless staff member. I've got one that decimated the small animal population everywhere he's lived. He's even catching squirrels. 12 pounds of predatory instinct.

Night driver said...

unknown 6:46
"""However, our cat lives and we will be having frank discussions with her regarding the nature of her employment, which I am sure she will listen to attentively and act accordingly."""

ANd you have had cats for HOW long?? In normal cat lingo the NORMAL answer to your frank discussions would be a turn of the head, a flick of the off-ear and a request that you get with the cat's people to set up another meeting.

Don't get me wrong. I have a little 16 year old pistol who won her mouse-stripes at 3 months old. She is GOOD at what she does if the mooses are out from cover. My mooses understand the difference between cover and concealment so...

Night Driver

Virginia Granny said...

Despite all evidence to the contrary - YOU DID NOT GET THEM ALL.

Virginia Granny

Aesop said...


Au contraire.

I went 19 years here without so much as one.
Within a month after I had gaping holes in my walls, a whole family appeared.
They don't spontaneously generate, but I'll be monitoring to make sure they don't get back in.

Chip Anderson said...

Aesop, heap big hunter. I used to use old Victor leg hold traps to catch rats running across the rafters in our feed shed, never even bothered to use bait. As a commenter noted, they do tend to jump and so I had to drown then in a bucket sometimes.

Grandpa said...

Years ago, in Cherry Valley; we lived next door to a cherry orchard, and shortly after Tony - my neighbor - would disc around the trees in the spring, the mice left his property for ours. We had a cat - named Sara - who never got along with our Malamute, Boaz. I got home one night from work just after midnight; my bride had waited up for "me" (or, the 'In 'n Out' burgers I was bringing home...) and as we ate our late dinner, a mouse hauled ass across the kitchen, into the living room - and into the heatilator vents at the hearth. As my dear wife and I discussed this, Sara came into the kitchen, and I picked the cat up and said into her eyes - "there's a fuckin' mouse in our house. If you don't do your job, I can fuckin' guarantee that the dog will do his."
The next night when I got home from work, as I sat eating at the table; that cat walked into the kitchen and sat about 4 feet away with the mouse in its mouth... dumb animals? I don't think so. That fuckin cat knew exactly what I said.

Will said...

Mice in the San Jose area ignore peanut butter of any type. Got a cattle ranch across the road, and suburbia on my side. I suspect that some item in the area smells similar and reacts badly with them.
Sticky traps used to work well, until the makers got the bright idea to add a bait smell to them, and they were then avoided by the mice.

Prior to them ruining sticky traps, I was using them to help knock down the numbers getting into the house. Kept them in an aquarium to feed a housemate's snake, until it got too big to bother with such a small snack. Had a young cat that seemed to be oblivious to them. One evening while she was wandering around the back patio, I grabbed a mouse and tossed it into her lap. After she wore it out, I took it away and got her a fresh one. More than a dozen that evening. After that, her focus was hunting rodents. Well, actually anything that moved that wasn't bigger than she was. Had to watch that she didn't bring one into the house to play with. I was surprised to see her lose several mice that evening. No idea if she had some lack of senses to track them. Possibly smell, as she would lick spaghetti sauce off meatballs and then walk away from the bowl.