We are under siege.
Even as you read these words, the enemy is massing its forces. Make no mistake, they are relentless and want nothing more than to ruin our quality of life. They hate our freedom.
I am, of course, referring to the mouse “situation”.
Because it’s not. Yet. Here’s how it’s gone down.
For some time, mostly after dinner when we were in the living room watching TV, Emily and I would hear…noises… coming from the kitchen. Usually these were metal-on-metal noises and we convinced ourselves it was “just the oven settling” after using it to cook chicken/broccoli/cheddar casserole or somesuch. Then, in December, we started noticing the droppings. On the counter in twos and threes. In the back room between boxes – holy mother of god there was ample evidence. An unsanitary amount of ample.
So we bought traps, caught the a mouse here and there. And still there were signs that more were around. I cleaned out the back room, put up some shelves and cleaned up all evidence of mousification. As I cleaned, I noticed a gap between a heating vent and the wall and theorized that this was their means of ingress. Plugged it up with styrofoam. The next morning, they styrofoam had been chewed through. Not really using that vent anyway and having a handy pile of spare bricks in the back yard, I covered it over. No way those tiny bastards were getting through that.
I assumed the mouse problem was in hand. The apartment had been sanitized and the mouse hole covered. And then one morning, I came out to find that one of the almost-forgotten traps had caught one in the night. We still had a problem. The next day I found more droppings on the stove top. The downstairs neighbor was having problems too, and reported them to the landlord. The landlord sympathized, but asked if we would use humane traps so that any mice caught could be returned to the wild. I don’t think I’ll tell them that by that point I had already caught three mice, in a decidedly neck-snapping inhumane manner. The downstairs neighbor said he’d heard that plugging mouse holes with steel wool would prevent them coming in – they can’t chew through it. And that I should check behind my stove for gaps in the wall. I pulled the stove and found some likely gaps. Plugged away.
For a few days there were no more problems. Then, as I was falling asleep one night I head something inside the wall. There is almost nothing creepier than hearing a sound and realizing it’s coming from within the wall. Yesterday evening, I came home from work and saw a mouse run across the kitchen floor. It ran into the back room, which led to another round of pulling all the boxes out and cleaning. I found a gap between some electrical conduit and the wall, so I plugged that with steel wool. I pulled the stove away from the wall again and found that some of the steel wool I had put back there had been pushed aside by the mice. So apparently they can’t chew through it, but they can move it just fine. Redoubled my efforts there and am hoping that the worst is behind us.
I’m not sure how many mice I’ve caught so far. I think it’s five.
All I know is I need to buy some more steel wool and some more traps. And some sanity.