critter haven in the wasatch mountains

From the little biddies we raised in big cardboard boxes by the fireplace in our kitchen ’til they were big enough to transfer to the chicken pen–to the injured baby pig I named Buster and hand-raised as when I was a bit older, ever since I was a very small child I’ve always had a soft spot for animals and fowl of all kinds. I had a succession of dogs from the time I was around four. I wanted to marry my dog Trixie when I grew up–that’s how much I loved her! Though I wasn’t allowed to have cats then, I did sneak food to and pet the strays that showed up from time to time, and when Daddy ordered my brother to shoot them next time he saw them sleeping on the ledge outside the kitchen window I mustered all the intestinal fortitude I could and chased them away to save their lives. When I was older, I bought a green parakeet I named Pete from the dime store in town, and trained him to sit on my shoulder. Whenever I was home, he rarely spent any time at all in his cage. That was to sleep in at night! So you can say I’ve always had a soft spot for animals.

So, is it any wonder that Hubby and I great difficulty knowing how to handle the critter problem that comes with living in a mountainous area? I mean, the animals WERE here first, weren’t they? My neighbors announce they have RATS but have no problem calling the exterminator. I saw an enormous rat beneath the bird feeder on the backyard hill and wondered about his family, especially the babies back in the nest with mama rat. I watch the gambel quail families trot by in a perfect queue nearly every afternoon and worry about the occasional hawk I note perching nearby. . . or the cats some of the neighbors allow to roam the hills in spite of the possibly hungry coyotes still around, and my heart hurts a little each time the trailing kiddies are fewer in number. By the end of the summer, there are usually only four or five from their original number of dozens.

While this has little to do with animals, a few days ago when I answered the doorbell, the grandchildren thrust these little goodies in my hand. They were so adorable I had to take a picture. My daughter–and the kids–made them and knowing how much I like pigs, wanted to share them with us. Next morning I had one for breakfast, and felt like a murderess as I bit into the ear. Somehow I got it all down, and it was delicious!

This little guy or girl, or members of his/her family who live, I’m pretty sure in burrows below our backyard deck, spent an entire morning outside our bedroom window, barking. There was a dried squirrel carcass under the apricot tree, and I wondered if it was a baby crying for mama. Actually, squirrels bark! Anyway, it was perfectly apparent that he was calling somebody. Squirrels, rabbits too–as there’s a fat one of those in the yard too, prefer to live where there’s an abundance of food, usually an area with nut- and seed-producing plants. And why not? Bingo! We have cherry, almond, pear, plum, and apricot trees in the back. I also try to plant flowers for bloom and a few tomato plants around the end of May. The first summer I planted tomatoes with a row of marigolds all around them to discourage the animals and guess what? Squirrels and rabbits in our part of the Wasatch love marigolds! They’re apparently very tasty. My flower garden this year is very sparse but there are some very fat squirrels and rabbits there. If that’s not enough, we harbor animals inside the house. This year, my patience as been sorely tested as I watch my pretty little flowers disappear one by one. I am making notes, however, of what they don’t seem to like. Next year, we’ll have lots of geraniums and zinnias.

The kids (daughters 1 & 2) and Hubby gave me this Mickey Mouse telephone one Christmas when we lived in Ohio, twenty or more years ago. I’ve never grown tired of him, and several years later–about the time I began to wear glasses full time, I bought Mickey a pair too. He was probably around 52 at the time since Walt Disney created him in 1928.

Now for an update on the mice we have in our home. Since we moved here nearly five years ago, we’ve found three drowned mice floating in the guest room toilet, not quite at the rate of one per year. The other two bathrooms have for some reason always been spared. If you’ve never experienced walking bleary eyed into the bathroom in early morning and finding a dead mouse in the toilet, you haven’t missed a thing! It can be quite startling! The dried black-eyed pea bag in the pantry continues to dwindle pea by pea, but still our mice (or mouses?) continue their polite habit of not pooping in the pantry. As far as I can tell, their toilet is under the kitchen sink with the detergents and comet. I’ve shoved everything else into plastic containers but left the peas there as a humane gesture. We’ve acquired a “humane” mouse trap, but so far the peanut butter and nuts have not enticed sufficiently–or else we have college educated mice!

This morning, the man who has been renovating our house showed up and at this very moment is ripping out the tile in the guest bathroom, the last project in our fix-up program. Remember, that’s the bathroom with the toilet our mice seem to prefer to drown in. In a couple of weeks if all goes well, we’ll go from having turquoise bathtub and sink I have to bend down to wash my hands, what I consider a kiddie’s bath from years gone by, to more sophisticated (hopefully) white sink and a deep soaker bathtub. I made sure to take before photos to remind myself why we decided to spend the money. Art (the contractor’s name, not the mouse) is an expert at making messes and noise, and I’m thinking he’s outdoing himself today! I’m thinking also that if said mouse or mice are holed up in the wall in there, who knows where they’ll run to trying to escape the devastation.

Hopefully, it won’t be here in our office in our printer like the one in this picture a friend in Pittsburgh sent in an email attachment. An internet search for the source shows it to have been around since at least 2005, so I’m unable to acknowledge a source, but apparently lots of folks thought it rigged or photo-shopped. Knowing what I know about mice, I could well imagine this happening. I mean, toilet? printer? your choice. Which would you choose? And with all that banging and bashing going on in the bathroom today, I feel a little sorry for Mrs. Mouse if she’s trying to get the kiddies to nap, ’cause it ain’t gonna happen! Meantime, I’m going downstairs and spend the rest of the day doing laundry and ironing.

8 thoughts on “critter haven in the wasatch mountains

  1. Yes, I got the mouse in the printer image yesterday.

    Skunks. We be skunks here, and I’d just rather they not spray the house, thank you. Rats carry disease, and mice shred paper to make nests. Too many books here for that. But cats and dogs need to be kept inside or they get eaten.

    So how are you feeling?

    • Oh yes, I forgot to mention our skunks, and chipmunks, and you’re right on all counts. I’m going to be p***ed if I find the pages of my books shredded! Problem is, we can’t find them, nor can we ever hear them but we know they’re here sometime. I’m feeling very well, thanks for asking. I have developed a small cyst on my index finger at the knuckle. Everytime any little thing out of the ordinary happens, I start worrying, but am practicing how not to be so paranoid. I’ll tell the doc during my visits and I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m not keeping up with my blog reading very well because I’ve been so busy trying to get a lot of weeding done in the front and back yards. Winter and stay inside activities aren’t too far off though. See you soon in Postcards!

  2. My problem at this time of year are spiders. They are not very big, but enough to trigger the house alarm! 😦

    Glad to know you are doing so well. By the way I have a few gardening jobs if you want to pop over. 😉

    • If it weren’t so far to walk, you know I’d do it, Grannymar! But there’s an ocean in between and I don’t swim either. I go out around 9 in the morning, resolved to work at least an hour–rather than try to finish the whole job in one day as I used to–but it usually stretches out to an hour and a half with cleanup, and the results are so gratifying! It makes me happy to know I can still do it. The best thing is when I have a glass of tea and admire the landscape while I sit in the swing. (Inside my head, I’m hearing my teacher’s voice from grade school: just seedaddle in, with a bit of a grin, and that thing you thought couldn’t be done will soon be done. Apologies to the poet that penned it.) 🙂

  3. You don’t have to rid your guest bathroom of mice on my account. When I was 15, I had a pet mouse named Otto. He was one of the mice who escaped dissection at the end of my sophomore year in high school. Mrs. Logsdon, my biology teacher, allowed students to take the survivors home. I took Otto, who was black and had glassy black eyes. I loved that mouse and played with him daily, allowing him to run around the TV room for an hour or so before I scooped him up and placed him carefully back into his cage. (My mother made sure I cleaned up the trail he left behind.) When Otto died before the beginning of my junior year, I wept all evening. While I remain very fond of mice, I now leave “special” food for the ones who invade my kitchen cupboards before the start of each winter. Reason before emotion, I tell myself. Preventing disease and destruction of food containers is what a responsible adult must do. But, the teenage girl who lives somewhere inside me still remembers Otto.

    • Ahhhh, how sweet! Sounds like something I would have done if my parents would have allowed it. Your parents (god rest their souls) just got elevated several rungs in my esteem ladder. The bathroom is now under renovation and we’re plugging steel wool and foaming plug-up around every pipe that comes into the room. We haven’t declared war, but like you said, reason before emotion. 😆

  4. I’m very kind to outside critters, or at any rate, have a live and let live policy, but in the house is another matter. (And I feed stray cats, when necessary.) This morning I woke up early, turned on the light and something ran across the bedroom floor. Without my glasses I couldn’t tell whether it was a tiny mouse or a large centipede. I’m still worrying about it and what to do if I find it.

    • Our critter saga continues. After opening the dishwasher yesterday morning to load the breakfast dishes, I found a tiny mouse scampering around gaily inside. Now we’ve declared war! A humane war, or as humane as possible. I’m doing an unscheduled late summer spring cleaning, washing every pantry and shelf surface with bleach water, rewashing containers and everything exposed, and Hubby’s stuffing steel wool and foam plugger upper from the hardware store. I captured one yesterday and put him wayyyyy outside and hoping he doesn’t come back, or when he does he won’t be able to re-enter. GRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Cute but not so cute cootie-carriers! 🙄

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