City Mouse/Country Mouse
If I am a country mouse, I do not yet know it--- in any case, in this particular tale I am the city mouse. Why? Because there is an actual Country Mouse and the title County Mouse/Country Mouse isn't as dynamic as City Mouse/Country Mouse. (Or is it...?)
Anyway--here is my country mouse:
It's not the best likeness of his or her FACE--but it is all I have.
For anyone who has read this blog, they know that I have worked assiduously to exclude volunteer inhabitants of the cabin. What this means: no one gets in without a key. I hammered down the sub-floorboards, I nailed strips of metal all around the perimeter of the room, I spray-foamed every gap, crack and hole (one just can't refer to a gap, crack or hole these days without it sounding a little untoward, can one?) and I nailed scraps of wood over every crevice and slit (sorry, I did that one on purpose. They are legitimate words, though.)
Until very recently, my critter-proofing has been, as my husband would say, pretty darn effective. And now that we are in the dead of winter, there is very little movement from the rodent population. I thought we were in the clear.
But I fucked up.
A couple of week ago I noticed bits of grainy debris blowing in and dropping down from a lengthy gap in the ceiling I had somehow overlooked. I had one can of spray foam left, meant for insulating around the wood stove. After making a fire and heating the cabin to a workable temperature, I went around and sprayed this fire-proof pink foam into every overlooked gap I could find. It didn't take long and I had a lot of leftover foam and--since one cannot store spray foam, I went outside to look for gaps in the outer walls. There are, of course, a million. Between the celling of the the cabin and the floor of the loft is a odd space--almost a foot high---because I believe the cabin is three buildings piled on top of each other. Included in this space is a kind of false roof--the original roof, I suppose, of the bottom building. Under the low grade pitch of this "roof" is empty space. This empty space is from where the debris had been blowing--so I decided to squirt the remaining foam into this space. I did not have enough foam to fill it, but it seemed a decent way to use the rest of the can.
This picture doesn't illustrate the architectural situation very well, but it does show the foam situation:
This, I believe, was my mistake.
Whatever situation a mouse may have set up for the duration of the winter, I disturbed with this last foaming. I hate to think of a little mouse in a little nest taking a little nap and then BAM suddenly the whole world is overtaken by pink foam--that never stops growing. Well, that's not entirely true, but that stuff expands way longer than one might think. The next day was the first time a mouse paid a visit to the cabin.
Typical mouse calling card; this was from my paper towel roll on the shelf:
I cleaned everything twice with rubbing alcohol and reorganized. I went through the whole cabin and my husband helped me find those few spaces I had missed. We did everything we could in the time we had...but it wasn't good enough. Two days later when we returned, the evidence was clear:
How the hell does a mouse poo on the side of things?
For the record, I have mouse trauma. I lived in a house in my twenties that became overrun with mice. Just in case you are wondering, feeding the mice doesn't prevent them from stealing your food and whoever thought that was a good a idea was a fool only second to me who actually tried it. Science 101: where there is a food source there is a population explosion. Additionally, when it looks like somebody has been eating the butter you left on the counter with little paws, it is because someone has been eating the butter you left on the counter with little paws. NOT because you must have used the butter knife in a new and unusual way and you didn't even notice.
I got REALLY sick. It took me too long to wake up to the situation and I wasn't going to let that happen again. I won't let that happen again!
I feel, however, partially responsible. I disrupted the delicate country winter balance of things. I don't know the rules yet! I don't know the contracts! City mouse alert!
New action has been taken. I located a hole at the base of a wall--chewed through the insulation and the Tyvek--but, there was clearly a gap in the wood. So I used a mallet to stuff small wood shims into the gap and then nailed a piece of metal over that:
My husband had scored some free wooden kitchen cabinets for us to hang on the walls--when we got walls. So, I cleaned them off and pulled them inside and stacked them on the floor to secure everything away. Even though all the food was already safely in glass canisters or cans, I was tired of cleaning poo off of everything every time we came out. Now, if a mouse comes in, it can't walk all over my food stores with it's grubby little infectious feet:
The good news: the last time we were out in Vernonia, the mouse had not returned! But I do not intend to relax my guard. I purchased a humane trap that I will leave on the floor for a while. My husband can relocate the critter if necessary.
Co-existance! The balance is there--I just have to find it!
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Gillian Gontard wants a lot of things--she's trying to change that.
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