October, 2008, I was having some friends over for some pumpkin carving and drinks. We were having a good time carving in the basement and a few of us had come upstairs to have a snack. We were chit chatting away and I turned my back for a second and I heard some yelling and screaming and I turn around and my friends said a mouse had just run across the kitchen floor and into the hallway.
I had never, ever, seen any signs of mice in this house. Until that day. I knew something was up a few days earlier because I was dog sitting Nana and Poppy’s dog Oliver (we call him Uncle Oliver cuz he’s Grizwald’s uncle. And Owens now too). Uncle Oliver is a terrier so his acute senses pick up the tiniest scent. Just the other day Nana and Poppy told me he was barking at their fireplace all day and eventually went all the way in to the fireplace to catch this beast that he was after. It turned out to be a fly.
Anyway, Uncle Oliver had been sniffing around in our pantry (we don’t keep food in it, mostly pots and pans) and was a little obsessive about it so I had gone in there a few times to see if I could see anything but I couldn’t.
My friends told me that they watched it scurry around the corner and into a tiny hole in the built-in cabinet. He came from the pantry which, as I found out in the days coming, that it shared a wall with the back of the built-in and there was about a 6 inch space between the wall and where the backs of the drawers stopped. A mini highway.
Feeling slightly embarrassed about the mouse episode I decided to wait until the next day to start my search. When I looked in the pantry the next day I found a lot of mouse poop and it seemed like one mouse couldn’t have possibly pooped that much in the week since I had originally looked with Oliver.
I did some online research about how to catch mice and ways to stop them from getting in the house. Did you know that mice can fit through a hole the size of a quarter? I also read that there is always either one mouse, or a hundred. It’s never anything in between. I guess it’s because of the short amount of time it takes for them to mature to reproductive age (it’s something like 4 weeks). They also are very good at finding ideal places to nest where there are lots of nesting supplies (i.e. Candles, yarn, dog food, towels, sheets).
I read a few blog-like stories about mice problems (mind you I had no idea the severity of my problem yet). There was a lady that had become so obsessed with catching the mice in her house that she stayed up all night crouched in a corner with a broom that she had sharpened on one end so she could impale the mice as they ran across the floor. I guess she had been doing this for weeks. There were many others with similar stories and I thought they were insane! How many could there be?
I went to the hardware store the next day, bought one of the classic snap traps and put it in the pantry. Nick and I had gone out that night and when we got home the trap had a little mouse in it (I can’t remember if he threw it in the yard or not). Ok. Problem solved. I filled all the little cracks and crevices that shared an outside wall with steel wool (another thing I learned on the wonderful internet).
A few days later I was in one of the drawers in the built-in getting a towel and came across some more mouse poop. So I started moving some linens around and found it everywhere. EVERYWHERE! In between sheets, underneath towels, entwined in all my yarn, on my late grandmothers table cloths. Oh, and I forgot to mention the NESTS OF BABY MICE huddled up together all warm and cozy living it up with shredded candle wax all over the place.
1. How in the hell did they get in the drawers.
2. How in the hell did they get to the cabinet above and chew a hole through the Tupperware container to get to Grizwald’s food?
4.Why did I have all those stupid candles in that drawer?
5. I am totally going to become that woman with the stabbing broom.
So I turned the house into a haz-mat zone. Threw everything into the garbage, went to the hardware store, bought 9 more traps (the hardcore ones where they get lured into a box and poison themselves and die a slow painful death). Emptied the pantry, emptied the built-in, got my mask (it was a T-shirt actually) and gloves on and got to work cleaning. I couldn’t do any CSI work unless I knew my risk of getting the Haunta Virus was out of the way. I would also like to note I missed a Packer game for this. I remember swearing and screaming at some guys who were over watching the game because they were laughing at me for being such a freak show. I did have a t-shirt tied around my face. They also hadn’t read any of the stuff I had so they didn’t know how far into this I had gotten.
Once I got everything cleaned I started my investigation. How were they getting back and forth and up and down and side to side? How did they manage to breed so quickly? How many were there? How did Grizwald not know what was happening? How did I not know this was happening?
I never figured out the answer to any of those questions. I also only caught that one mouse at the beginning (I’m not counting the 300 babies I threw in the garbage because I didn’t really catch them).
I have never seen a mouse since either. So maybe a few escaped and told their friends not to bother me anymore since I took about 10 years off my life freaking out about it. I don’t get grossed out very easily but it still creeps me out thinking about it.
I am going to stop talking about gross things that happen in and around this house for now. I love this house but I can’t seem to think of anything nice to say about it at the moment. I do love it though.