Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pappas Clan vs Mickey, Minnie, and friends

Let me start with some you may know (see July 15, 2008 - "The Cat's Big Adventure"), Hunter the cat got whipped by a crazed raccoon and will no longer enter/patrol/chase mice out of our detached garage.  In addition, our chicken coop, containing a huge 40-lb container of delicious poultry lay pellets, is attached to the back of said garage.  And, most recently, cat number 2, the unfriendly but astute-hunting "Oreo", disappeared and was never seen again (it happens in our neighborhood).  So, when a pair of field mice apparently entered the garage a couple of months ago, they obviously found a wonderful cat-free home, with abundant food, soft bedding (car rags, beach towels, wet suits) and fun things to scamper over (paint cans, camping supplies).  And the humans on the property were quite oblivious.  Enter one Jamey Pappas, a few weeks ago, to get some old car rags.  This is where the story gets pretty gross.  For when he pulled them off the shelf, several hundred (thousand, perhaps?) mouse droppings scattered all over the garage floor.  It seems that Mickey and Minnie can have an awful lot of babies in a really short amount of time.
One of the worst jobs in the entire world, I've discovered, is "mouse exterminating".  Ironically, I collected mice as a little girl...who knew?  Sticky traps are so far my weapon of choice, although removing them involves donning rubber gloves, a bandana around the mouth and nose (can you say, "hanta virus"?), and poking the trap with a long-handled tool that also doubles as a weed-picker in its other life.  But it seems the mouse army is getting smarter - I have had several traps just up and disappear.  I'm imagining a group of mice, all working together to push the thing under the wall or big shelf, or even down into the creek.  Lately everyone has been helping out with a different job.  Grace's job is "scream".  Max's job is "catch mouse and toss it about before eating it" (he has 2 so far).  Jamey and Jason have (with a little too much excitement, perhaps) taken to heading outside late at night with headlamps and a bb gun.  They have also bagged 2 beady-eyed vermin.  Sadie the kitten (our latest addition - still too small to be outside all the time, and not-yet-spayed) is a "hunter-in-training".  She has the killer instinct, but because of the hawks' nest in the sycamore tree out back, she is honing her skills on flies and moths that get inside the house.
I kind of like it that the big event on my weekly planner is "visit hardware store, browse rodent removal section and ask advice of older clerks".  Keeps me from being 'uppity'.  And if it's not the mice in the garage, it's the birds trying to eat our plums and grapes.....always something out here in the neighborhood!