Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘mice

How’s That?

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While Cyndie and I were away on Saturday afternoon, we had a new ranch helper recruit from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls stop by to care for our animals. We checked on her with a text message, and learned things were all good.

That was followed by this bizarre note:

“Also just FYI, there’s a dead mouse caught in your garage door.”

Excuse me?

She provided a visual aid.

Really.

How in the…?

Timing. It’s all in the timing.

Somehow, in the few minutes after opening the garage door, getting settled in the car, and our backing out, that mouse must have made its way onto the door. Did it drop from a rafter? Climb up from below? I have no idea.

I’m guessing that when Cyndie pushed the button on the remote to close the door, that critter’s tail dropped into the seam that opened between the door panels as they rounded the corner from horizontal to vertical. As fast as that seam opens up, it closes tight, and the mouse’s tail got pinched firmly enough that the poor thing was left helplessly hanging, head down.

Cause of death: Unknown.

At the risk of offering too much information, the body was not stiff when we finally returned home around dinner time.

We made sure to pull up close before opening the door, so we could see the spectacle for ourselves. There it was, hanging plain as day.

We opened the door using the remote and I watched to see the mouse drop when the seam opened as the door climbed the curve in the tracks. It didn’t budge.

We parked the car and I stepped outside while Cyndie took up a position at the button on the wall. I had her push the button to start closing the door until the seam opened and the mouse came into view, then shouted for her to stop it.

The mouse was stuck in place. I grabbed a stick and easily brushed the body free of the door and it fell to the ground, limp.

Who knew it was possible to trap a mouse between the panels of a garage door? Well, I do now.

I know a thing or two, because I’ve seen a thing or two, to borrow J. K. Simmons‘ current catch-phrase from a television commercial.

Just another normal day on the ranch.

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Every Box

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I learned something this weekend. If I store something in a cardboard box in the shop or garage, it is like building a new luxury home for a mouse.

Every box I opened while cleaning out things that have been stored for far too long looked the same.

The front door was a perfectly chewed opening that seemed to open right into the kitchen. Obviously, mice don’t bother sweeping.

In the case of the old tractor seat in the photo above, the bedroom was another level down, through the cracked vinyl shell to the comfy foam inside.

The scene was identical in the box of Tiffany light fixtures I opened up on Saturday.

Less fortunate mice have to be a little more creative. In the pile of leftover lumber that has been neglectfully ignored in the shop for the two years since construction of our chicken coop, I uncovered a brilliantly packed residence constructed out of insulation pilfered from the shop walls.

It was only a one-story home that looked like the kitchen and bedroom were a shared space. I wonder if there is a mouse hierarchy that determines who gets the cardboard boxes.

Obviously, the four mousetraps I have distributed throughout the shop are something that mice have figured out how to avoid.

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Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Part Way

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I made it part way through doing a thorough job of re-leveling the gazebo frame when my patience for the project ran out and I resorted to doing a less-than-perfect, but good enough wrap up to call it done. Funny how the perspective changes when the limited hours in a day are slipping away and the cost/benefit assessment provides a justification for aborting a plan.

Only time will tell whether or not it was a worthy choice. In the short-term, we are well satisfied with our progress. The shaded platform is ready for use.

With that done, we did turn our attention to using the loader bucket to remove a significant portion of the oldest composting manure. These were piles that had gone cold due to no longer actively composting. Interestingly, of the three piles we tended to, two of them retained a lot of moisture and one was surprisingly dry.

The dry one proved to be suitable for rodent housing and it appeared we disturbed a momma mouse in the process of giving birth. While Cyndie was at the pile discovering that, I had driven off with a full bucket and spotted a large mouse scrambling to and fro on the mechanisms of the loader arms.

It was a little like trying to drive a car with a bee flying around you. It was pure luck that I didn’t bash into the side of the barn while backing up as I focused on trying to get the dang critter to jump off the bucket and not run up toward my position.

He skittered over to an opening at the end of one of the loader arms, so I lifted the bucket high to slide the mouse out, but I don’t know if it is actually open all the way through. I never saw where he came out, or maybe he’s still in there.

It’s the kind of mini-drama that we are growing accustomed to, and as a result, we tend to just shrug these encounters off and carry on with the task at hand.

All manner of creatures can be found taking advantage of the spaces we create. They probably see our occasional intrusions on their luxurious accommodations in a similar way we look at hazardous weather. It happens. You clean up after it and get on with life.

Mowing the fields dislodges a lot of crawling and slithering things. Last time out, the prevalent sighting was a leaping creature. Several large, long-legged frogs were disturbed by the big wheels and high RPM roar of the tractor. I’m pleased to be able to say I didn’t witness any unfortunate encounters with the whirring blades of the brush cutter.

There are still plenty of other compost piles for the rodents to take up residence. Better there than in our house. Inside, they have to deal with a storm called Pequenita. When that happens, we have to deal with watching where we place our feet in the morning.

It’s such a glamorous life we lead.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2017 at 9:39 am

Winch Works

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I discovered that my problem with the dead winch on our ATV wasn’t the winch or the solenoid. It all works just fine if the wires are properly segregated. What would mess with the wiring?

dscn5177eRODENT invaders!

What is the deal with mice and chipmunks that they choose to chew on wires? Does the plastic coating taste good to them? Are they trying to get more copper in their diet?

The other question I have, from driving past farm after farm with equipment parked outside year round, is how they deal with the constant threat of damage from nesting critters.

We leave our truck parked outside most of the time, and now when we lift the hood there is the disconcerting sound of collected acorns rolling down inside the lid.

The heat tapes that our gutter installer put in the problem spots of our roof and routed through the downspout and into the garage to the AC outlets only lasted one year before rodents chewed through both of them.

Maybe this explains why one of our neighbors has so many outdoor cats. A way to keep the rodents at bay.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2016 at 8:36 am

Two Hunters

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It’s getting to be that time of year when critters prepare for the harsh realities of winter survival. With that, it becomes time for me to get back to a daily schedule of setting and checking mouse traps in the garage at the house, down at the shop, and in the barn. The varmints are making their way indoors, again.

IMG_iP0914eCHTurns out, we happen to have two “Hunters.” One is our champion horse, and the other is the wee one who has turned into a great hunter of mice! Pequenita must be paying tribute to her former house-mate, Mozyr, whom we named for the anticipated/hoped-for trait of being a mouser to protect our domicile from rodent invasion. The past three nights she has been disrupting our sleep with robust acrobatic all-night maneuvering that has been accompanied by telltale squeaks from her prey.

It seems there might be a new breach in our house somewhere, of which mice are taking full advantage. Pequenita, the wee great hunter, has shown no mercy and dispatched two in her first two nights.

Well, I should say, we have found two. Cyndie cleaned long and hard in search of evidence of the third one, but nothing has turned up. It’s hard to say whether Delilah happily picked up where Pequenita left off, however.

While Cyndie was cleaning in our bedroom, she did suddenly report, “I found a half-eaten grasshopper!”

I can’t say that I ever expected to hear that phrase in the bedroom.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Never Question

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Well, we have another classic canine carnivore story for Delilah’s scrapbook. I don’t know why I ever question her nose. Over and over again she has keyed on something when I see absolutely no evidence to support her suddenly manic focus. My tendency to doubt her level of excitement comes from the endless number of times she has torn up a good part of our grass in her quest for a mole or pocket gopher, and come up with nothing but a dirty nose and messy yard.

However, each time she surprises me with an unexpected success, I am led to believe the likelihood of a critter having been mere centimeters away from her bite all the other times is probably high.

Monday, it was her tenacity that had me fascinated enough to give her all the time she wanted as I stood patiently and observed. We were almost back to the house after a long walk around the property when she inexplicably diverted off the trail through some trees. There were no tracks in the snow and her nose wasn’t to the ground, so I couldn’t tell why she was straying course.

There was a portion of a tree trunk coming out of the ground at an angle that had been cut off about 5 feet up. The amount of bark that was sloughing off indicated there wasn’t much life to it. Wait a minute, that’s the wrong way to describe it, because according to Delilah, there was definitely some life there.

She got increasingly worked up over her find and searched for some access to the prize her nose indicated was inside. She started peeling the bark off, getting a flap in her teeth and ripping it loose, then spitting it out emphatically before going back for another piece.

DSCN2850eThere were two knot holes where branches had once been that she could stick her nose in while balancing on her hind legs. Doing so just fueled her zest for this conquest. There was definitely something in there.

I walked over to get a closer look. Sure enough, when Delilah put her nose in one hole, I spotted the face of a mouse as it peeked out of the other hole. I think it saw me and decided to retreat in hopes of riding out the attack.

Had Delilah seriously smelled this mouse from over on the trail? I can see why this breed is often used in police work for bomb or drug sniffing. Something kept her fixated on harassing that tree until the rodent had no other choice but to bail and make a run for it.

There was a frantic scramble as both creatures dashed, turned, leaped, and ran, but Delilah got her prize in the end after the mouse made an oddly fatal decision to loop back and head directly toward Delilah’s menacing jaws.

Yesterday, I gave her a chance to return to the scene, curious as to whether she would show the same interest. Nope. Not this time. I guess that tells me there were no more mice in there. I’m sure her nose would have brought on a much different response if it had been otherwise.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2015 at 7:00 am

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Found It!

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Cyndie found the mouse that the cats killed. They put it in the toilet. We are very impressed that they knew the mouse was something that needed to be disposed of.

IMG_3201eMeanwhile, the horses have proved me wrong. I believe that I wrote about how often I find them lying down to rest in the afternoons, and that one of them always remains standing to keep watch. Yesterday, I looked up from my task to find that all four of them were on the ground at the same time. I guess they feel safe here. As I watched them, I noticed there was no traffic on our road and no activity underway in any of the fields or at the neighboring farms. It was wonderfully calm and quiet, even with the wind kicking up some fairly robust gusts every so often. I think their behavior is a reflection of the environment where they now find themselves living.

We are pretty happy with the place, too.

Now, the serenity is not without interruption. This time of year, there are an awful lot of gunshots spoiling the natural sound scape. Hunting seasons for a variety of animals start in September and run into December. The biggest hunt around here is definitely the deer season. It opens this coming weekend, so right now many hunters are preparing their guns, test-firing them and calibrating the sights.

We saw the horses startle at the sound of some of the closer shots later in the day yesterday. I’m hoping that the presence of our horses and Delilah will have rerouted the deer traffic away from our land, so the hunters will have no incentive to post themselves close by. I certainly haven’t seen as many deer around here this year as there were last year during the same time period.

I’ve posted images here on the blog of Delilah with her blaze-orange vest on, I wonder if we should get the horses some blaze-orange blankets. We definitely don’t want to have them wear antler hats for the next two weeks. I’ve heard stories that cause me to be uneasy during deer hunting season. Luckily, there are no strangers hunting in our vicinity. It is all private property, and the hunting is done by family groups that are familiar with the area.

I’m just happy our cats have finally decided to participate in some hunting this year. It’s the season!

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2013 at 7:00 am