Grasping the door handle and unlatching the swing hook, I faced the challenge as any farm child would. Flipping on the light switch I started down the open stairway to the cellar. At the bottom of the steps I banged the metal plate to announce myself before entering the fruit cellar. Opening the little wooden slatted door I nervously peered around to see if the pile was moving at all. I went through this terror every time I was sent to get potatoes in the root cellar. Only once did I see a mouse down there but that was enough.
Growing up on the farm I had to face down mice on a regular basis. A mouse could be often seen in the henhouse when I was sent to gather the eggs. They often ran along the rafters overhead as I reached under the hens to gather a warm egg. Mice or worse still, rats, could pop up in the granary as we pushed grain through the barn’s upper floor to make chop for the animals waiting below. Concrete floors in storage buildings used to dry onions and initially store squash, pumpkins and apples would heave and crack due to the underground riddling of these creatures.
One afternoon as my sister and I started to prepare supper we caught a tiny mouse in a drawer. Slamming the drawer shut as a reflex reaction set off a screaming session. The mouse wasn’t too happy about it either. Dad had to deal with the remains when he came in from the barn as we were still traumatized. To this day I am leery of that drawer.
Studying my french homework one evening in order to prepare for a test the next day I decided to make some tea. Returning to my book I found a mouse sitting quietly on the top of my desk. Reflexes sharp once more I brained the mouse with the french text and I ran . Leaving the job of corpse removal once more for my Dad I refused to study anymore for that test. No wonder I still have nightmares about french tests….over forty years later,
While visiting with us in the livingroom my elegant aunt from out-of-town spied a tiny mouse scamper across the floor. My aunt whipped off her high heel shoe and nailed the mouse in one shot. I gained a new respect for my aunt.
At the end of a family dinner I was asked to get a pumpkin pie out of the pantry room off the kitchen, I promptly dropped it as there was a wee mouse sitting in the middle of it smacking its lips. (That mouse got away to live another day.) Thank goodness covered plasticware came along.
While doing our laundry in university my roommate and I found a dead mouse soaking in the laundry tub. I was the brave one so I put on oven mitts and using an egg flipper I retrieved the poor thing. Our eccentric landlady wasn’t impressed with our screeching and carrying on. Later we discovered that she had boiled the carcass and saved the bones in the freezer for her biology class at the university. We got a new place for the next term.
Mice continued to be my challenge when I bought my own old house in our rural village. Terrified by seeing several mice scooting across the floor one freezing fall night I called my mom in a panic. She was down at my place in a few minutes, smirking. She was amazed how her university educated daughter couldn’t handle setting a mouse trap. Staying overnight my mom caught mouse after mouse and disposed of them in the neighbour’s yard while the snow swirled around her nightgown . Eventually I enlisted the help of a retired gentleman on our street when it was time to set traps. He would bait the trap for me and I would carry it home on a tinfoil pie plate to set in readiness against the wall. Once the mouse was caught I threw it all away rather than empty the trap to use it again. To this day I buy a new trap rather than reuse one. A greener solution is my goal.
Horror after horror I became more desensitized to the challenge of mice. This winter I had to rig a temporary set up to catch a mouse who was skipping happily by the set trap. Using a kitchen stool for support I leaned my two framed diplomas against the cupboard and set the trap with peanut butter. Within ten minutes it was over. Good to know that now that I’m retired from teaching that my degrees are good for something.