When my wife and I moved out into the sticks in central Wisconsin from about 30 years ago, we looked forward to savoring the peace and quiet and living where the wild things were. Little did I know my new life would soon become dominated by an epic struggle against the most fearsome of country horrors. That’s right, mice.
Our first encounters with the forces of evil started in the house. At night we’d hear occasional marching and munchings coming from the attic—not too bothersome—live and let live, right? But then they grew bolder in their night-time patrols and, some—I guess their Kamikaze unit—started falling down between the studs in our walls. Thus began a nightly routine of their scuttering up and falling back down until we couldn’t stand it anymore. It ended with my wife cowering under the covers and me in my underwear, feverishly prying back paneling, drilling holes, and probing around with a flashlight and kitchen tongs to try grabbing them. This skirmish escalated into decade-long, war of attrition involving traps, poison, and a painstaking search to seal up every conceivable point of infiltration. Finally, the border, I thought, was secure.
In my city-bred naiveté, however, it didn’t occur to me that the platoons of mice would turn their attention to our vehicles. My introduction to this occurred when, while getting an oil change, the mechanic showed me a yucky-looking lump of felt, mouse droppings, shredded tissue, and leaves.
“What’s that?” I asked innocently.
“Well, it used to be your air filter.”
I did a more thorough search when I got home and found the engine compartment had apparently become a warren of nests. I cleaned it all out and zip-tied a trap and a box of D-Con® under the hood. The mechanic had suggested fabric softener sheets and moth balls, but again in my innocence, I didn’t realize the heathens would flank my advance.
Later, on a trip to Minneapolis, I got stranded when my truck wouldn’t start. Pulling the bed off the pickup, the mechanic found mice had eaten through the fuel line just above the tank. One day and about $500 later, I was back home, and the next morning, jonesing for a motorcycle ride, I noticed a few shreds of paper toweling underneath my bike. Popping off the seat, I was presented with a virtual mouse barracks, not to mention a few chewed-through wires. Crap!
My go-to mechanic recommended replacing the wiring harness.
“What does that entail?” I asked innocently.
“Entail? Um, we’d pretty much disassemble your entire bike, and you’d write us a check for $3000.”
Back home, I built batteries of traps, five to a board, meticulously hot gluing sunflower seeds to the trap triggers. Vigilance, ingenuity, casualties.
But the onslaught continued. Becoming obsessive about checking under my cycle’s seat, I found droppings ON TOP OF THE DRYER SHEETS. Clearly, the enemy was evolving. I needed a bigger gun, and after a thorough reconnaissance, realized the only spot without mouse leavings in my garage was where I stored fertilizer. Ah, could this be the enemy’s Kryptonite? Back at the workbench, I began fashioning darling little sachet pouches of dryer sheets and Weed and Feed to plant throughout my bike. But then a buddy, visibly trying to be diplomatic, pointed out that some fertilizer is flammable, maybe even explosive. Probably not the solution I was looking for.
So the battle rages on. The mice attack seems to have abated, but, with winter coming, I refuse to become complacent. Yesterday, as I checked my traps, I saw a chipmunk. It had a dryer sheet in its mouth.