Michelle is currently waging war against garden raiders. Some rodents, either voles or mice, have been nibbling the shoots off her flower bulbs, and, amazingly, eating our horse radish! Her first step to start the garden this year seems to wreak havoc among the crop spoilers.
Her trap setting and calling down curses upon the small furry heads of her nemeses reminds me of when we used to trap mice by hand.
We learned how to trap mice by hand before moving to the homestead. One winter mice invaded our suburban home while we were between cats.
Mice are like terrorists in that their reputation is much larger than reality. Stripped of the assumption that they are unstoppable, Mice are small and fast. They do their best to remain invisible. We watched for movement out of the corners of our eyes, especially along baseboards and edges of furniture. We rarely saw a mouse run across an open floor, unless they got truly desperate, or complacent.
Eye contact is key. We’ve all heard stories of mice and other small animals being mesmerized by snakes. This actually happens, probably because snakes don’t blink! I’ve found that once a mouse makes eye contact, it will hold completely still. The first, slightest shift of your gaze, and they’ll vanish. We learned not to talk to each other while hunting, because our eyes involuntarily flicker toward a speaker, breaking eye contact long enough for a mouse to escape! If you can keep your eyes locked on it, you can often approach a mouse very closely.
We either grabbed mice with heavy work gloves, or scooped them up in a square-mouthed bucket. If we tilted the bucket up quickly, they couldn’t escape.
Herding improved our chances. One Yuletide we blocked the living room doorway with a line of Christmas gifts to prevent a mouse from escaping! Any barrier more than 4 inches high should keep them from “going over the wall.”
Mice have weak hearts. Experts say “timid as a mouse” rings true. Apparently, if a cat catches a mouse, and it escapes, it may be so traumatized that it will move its family out of the cat’s home! Likewise, the sounds of a mouse being trapped or hunted can scare other mice into leaving. Loud noises, sudden moves, even unsuccessful chases through the living room can have a positive effect, even if the method itself seems to have failed.
Here on the homestead we see deer mice now and then, although we don’t see as many of them as we see of voles, which seem to have a rather different temperament.
Luckily, we have at least one mink living up near the wind generator, and ermines patrol the property. Both love to eat the rodents that love to eat our produce. We still set traps for them, but we rarely have to hunt them by hand anymore.