It’s been a bummer week, critter-wise. I blogged about losing Aflac, and this week seemed to mark the end of the guineas. I say “seemed to” because those things are like a stray cat. They may be here one day, and then gone a while, then back. There were four at last count (pre-Thanksgiving), but I spotted only 3 one night, and wondered if we’d lost the little chocolate one. We let the chickens out some days, and pen them in when they go to roost. I think at least 2 guineas went to roost with them. We didn’t let them out the next day, apparently, but the day after that found the two dead in the coop. I suspect the chickens “picked on” them, and they were overwhelmed. Which just breaks my heart. Big Sister hauled their frozen carcasses to the front driveway, honked the van horn for my attention, and waved the birds about by their feet, with a regretful, matter-of-fact look on her face, if that’s possible. Perhaps we’ll replace them, though I can’t be sure. The Fancy Neighbor seemed to enjoy their presence in the mornings, after I assured her that they would eat bugs, but not decimate her landscaping. RIP weird guineas.

The latest creature to cause havoc here is the mice. Ew. I noted with some surprise an empty cob of corn tucked back between a couch and end table, along the wall. Organique often ‘rearranges’ the decor, and even likes to pop the little dry popcorn kernels from the cob… but she doesn’t leave a tidy pile of bee’s wings. I moved the loveseat and found evidence of mice. Nasty critters. I vacuumed and set a trap, and caught one that night. And the next. And the next. But not for the past 2 nights.

This afternoon we enjoyed a very uncommon environment. Organique was napping upstairs, Baby fell asleep near me on the couch while I worked on some Christmas gifts. Big Sister was reading aloud, Little Artist was listening, and there was no radio or Christmas music playing. I kept hearing an odd little squeak, like perhaps the dog whining from out back. Maybe it was Baby breathing through a stuffy nose? I sent Big Sister to listen, and she didn’t pay much attention until I pointed out a scratchy, scuffling sound. I had her stand in the middle of the house, and listen, and she finally heard and pointed to a corner of the dining room. There is one cupboard against the wall below the counter overhang, and there was considerable activity coming from within. I crept near, quite astonished, and cracked the door open. There was MUCH evidence of the nasty critters, and I expected to find a nest or something. Instead, a shallow cardboard box, labeled “indian popcorn for decor” was certainly the focus of the mice’s efforts. Yuck! My pretty, beautiful corn! I got a tablecloth from the shelf nearby, and thought I might perhaps envelop the box (the top was partly open, and blocked from closing by something) and hurry it outdoors, where the mice could do some good by lessening my cat food bill. That would not do, I decided, and gave the box a couple pokes. One small mouse scurried out onto the floor (and I did NOT startle, not at all) and I thought it might be hiding in the tablecloth I’d set there, but had found some tiny crack to wiggle through to get beneath the cabinetry. There was still another creature inside, so I retrieved the trap from the living room and put it in side the cupboard. I hoped to hear an immediate “snap!” but I didn’t. I scared him out enough to watch, horrified, as it literally shimmied up the hinge-side of the cupboard and around the edge to fit between the wall and the side of the cabinet.

The girls, once afraid of being eaten alive (don’t they remember playing with mice? Oh yeah, they were dead mice.), were by now hovering at my shoulder, exclaiming that they wanted to see them. I set one of those spring-loaded, wooden, scary traps inside as well. Mmm.. peanut butter. And we left it alone for a while.

A few minutes later (20? 30?) I peered inside again, uncertain if there had been a third mouse or not, and found the black plastic trap sprung, without a … wait… was that a tail? Sure enough, the trap had closed (like the mouth of an alligator, kinda), but had come down on the verrrrryyy tail end of the mouse. Maybe an eighth-inch of his backside was on the outside, as well as the tail. I didn’t think it could really be dead, so I picked it up carefully, took it outdoors, called, “here, kitty kitty!” and opened it up on the driveway. It wasn’t dead actually, but Gilbert took care of that.

When Hubby got home from work, the girls were still staking out the cupboard (Organique was awake by then), using a large Christmas light bulb from a lighted decoration to try to flush out any remaining corn gluttons. Hubby bent down, took the box to the porch, peered in and did not startle, at all when a young mouse leaped out and ran down the length of the porch. I don’t think the cats were near enough to notice, sadly.

Hopefully we’ll catch the remainder of them (I have three traps set just now), and I can begin to *gag, choke* clean out that cupboard. You’d think, with our ability to put men in space, the internet, cell phones and GPS technology, we’d have figured out how to mouse-proof our living spaces. Apparently not.

On a more positive note, we got an egg the other day. Twenty chickens. Over 3 months. One egg. I’ll not tell you what I spent on chicken feed during this time.

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