OF MICE AND MEN

We live in an old farmhouse surrounded on 3 sides by open land. Mice live here on this land, as they have done for probably thousands of years. The “foundation “ of our house is stacked limestone rock, leaving lots of mouse-size holes giving the furry little guys easy access. .

In my garage, away from the house, I have stored in the rafters, about seven feet off the floor, a variety of things that I hope to someday find a good use for, including several lengths of leftover plastic electrical conduit (basically plastic pipe) some of which are 2 inches in diameter and perhaps 5 or six feet long. One recent day I did think of a need for some and went to pull down a piece…getting showered by several cups of seed hulls, a double handful of shredded insulation and I am sure, a great quantity of mouse poop. I wasn’t happy, but I had to stand there for a moment, looking around the space, marveling at the ingenuity and persistence of the residents. To accomplish this, the mouse had to find the stuff, carry it from its location into my garage, go up a concrete block wall to the rafters, walk across the rafter to where the pipe was located (remember, he or she had to have located it first and identified it as a good homesite) then crawl out several feet on the rounded, slick plastic surface and go over the end of the pipe from the top to the inside, all without losing the cargo being carried. And, being mouse-sized, the extent of cargo carrying is limited to what can fit in the mouth, so all of this stuff required many, many trips back and forth. The seeds are outside at the bird feeder, about 60 feet from the garage, the insulation is, or was unfortunately, in the walls of my house a bit farther on, so each round trip was about 120 feet or more. For a creature that is about an inch and a half long (not including the tail of course) I make a generous assumption of an individual stride of about a half inch. Covering 120 feet each trip is nearly 3000 steps, which for me, with an average stride of a bit over three feet is equivalent to about one and seven tenths miles, give or take, assuming the mouse makes a bee line each time. Imagine if you had to walk nearly two miles carrying each item you bring home from the grocery (not bag, each individual item) including climbing up a wall and shinnying across the rafters and then ducking inside a pipe from the top, and then do it again until you had brought home enough stuff to make a place and a food supply for your family. Very impressive little critters.

One of my core principles is that killing another creature never should be the first option. We live-trap them when they get in the house and carry them across the creek up into the field where they can go about their business until they find a way back in. They live out there all summer and try to re-establish residency in the house when the weather turns cold

So I will continue the battle each year with an adversary that makes up for its small brain by using all of the other assets it has, not the least of which are ingenuity and persistence. And someday I will be gone from here and they will win, as ingenuity and persistence always does.

About johngrice

Retired small town lawyer, lifelong motorcyclist, traveler and old guy sitting around thinking.
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