Thursday, September 20, 2012

Unwanted Tenants

Scratch, scratch, thump, thump, thump, thudump.

Not again.

At least, that's what I was thinking last week when I heard that sound over our bedroom two mornings in a row, the sound of an unwanted visitor waking me up at 4 A.M. Then earlier this week, while I was peacefully eating my early morning breakfast, I saw a mouse scurry around the corner of our dining room.

Yep, here we go again.

Our "adventures" with unwanted tenants began immediately after we moved into the house. Actually, it would be safe to say that it started before we even moved into the house.

"Sarah, I think you have some bugs in your drawers." My mother-in-law was helping me clean the long vacated kitchen. I looked into the drawer.

"Mom, those are mouse droppings."

Unfortunately, I was familiar with the signs of those tiny vermin. Two winters in a row we found a couple mice finding their way through our crawl space in Indy into the house. We learned how to go after them but it was not a hunt I relished. This time, we knew what to do. We cleaned the drawers and waited for further signs of mice. None appeared. We filled the drawers and went on with our lives, attacking the many projects that needed completion.

Then, within days of sleeping in the house we started to hear noises coming from the attic. We knew that something at least HAD been in the attic. Two gable vents needed to be replaced, and because of the broken out soffit outside of our office, we knew that a large animal had gotten into the attic and broken through. That soffit was fixed soon after we moved in, but we continued to hear noises in the attic. We put up wood as a temporary fix to one of the gable vents and hoped that the animal was gone, but it wasn't. Apparently we had blocked the animal in the attic. We set a live trap, but it outsmarted us. As summer turned to fall we finally replaced both gable vents, but not without incident. As Jeff was closing the ladder, it snapped, he dropped the ladder and it fell...right through our dining room window. And still we heard the scratch and patter of feet in the attic. We turned our furnace on for the first time and discovered that the 40 year old furnace needed to be replaced. As the technicians worked in our attic (where our furnace is located) they mentioned hearing something running underneath their feet. We heard our tenant through the winter, and then suddenly, the patter of small feet and scratching stopped. We still don't know what happened to him, or her, or it.

But the mice kept coming back. We had our first wave of mice in the fall. We killed all those we could, and then didn't see anymore until spring. Doesn't mean they were gone. All winter long we heard scratching in the ceiling of the family room. We knew they were there, but we couldn't figure out how to get to them. So we would sit in the family room watching T.V. and just listen. Then Jeff took our daughter to Orlando for a spring break trip while he was at a conference and the first evidence of mice reappeared. It was as if spring was their clue to come out of hiding. Seven months pregnant and all alone, I went on a hunt. Over that week my Facebook posts read:

April 5, 2011
  • I have papers to grade, papers to write, and mice to catch. Die mice, die.
  • Got one of the two that I saw this morning. Snap traps work, but EWE!
  • Got two more. I'm not sure whether to be happy that I got rid of three mice or disgusted that there were three mice to get rid of... 
April 6, 2011
  • They are such disgusting creatures. Need to get more traps to make sure I have them all.
  • Body count = five. My husband better appreciate me doing all of this while he's gone.  
April 7, 2011
  • Body count is up to 7. It's gross, but I'm proud of myself for being relentless. 
The mice have never completely gone away. We know that there are several keys to preventing mice in your house. One is a perfectly clean house, and let's be honest, I've never been a stellar housekeeper. Ok, I'm not even close to that. But the other problem is we can't find the entry point. Our house is so big with so many nooks and crannies and that there is no way for us to easily find where these field mice are coming from.

And that brings me to our current issues. We haven't heard anything from the attic in almost a week, but I keep listening for a new tenant. But we caught the mouse. Or at least, we caught A mouse. So I'll keep my eyes open for clues and continue my mantra "the only good mouse is a dead mouse." I will maintain this mantra unless he shows up dressed like Fievel Mousekewitz. I am not a woman to be trifled with. I am a lean, mean, mouse killing machine and I will NOT allow them to gain a foothold in our house. Until the next mouse, goodnight.

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