We knew that chickens would eat mice, but had no idea that the ducks would. The ducks were walking across the yard and Cactus took off quickly and caught this little guy and killed it. I stopped watching after that.
The wild winter weather has continued. Tonight it’s so warm that even several hours after the sun went down, there is still a steady drip-drip-drip coming off the roof. In the forties tomorrow, the season just can’t seem to make up its mind.
That’s not to say that it has been an easy winter. And to me, there has been a recurring theme out here at that cabin that demonstrates this better than anything else. I have had a steady supply of small rodents around the house looking for food.
When I moved into the cabin a few years ago, Amy not so light heartily called it the “Mouse House.” Since then, it has been cleaned up significantly. With Ed and Herbie running nightly patrols, the mice moved out and other than a very occasional rustling in the walls, I have not had to deal with any other rodents inside the cabin.
That is not to say that there is a lack of small rodents at the cabin. Red squirrels used to attack the bird feeders on a regular basis and there is a family of mice living in the outhouse. There are certainly plenty of places for them to hole up for the winter out here. Unfortunately, they seem to have decided to try and spend nights in a couple of buckets I have. This has resulted in me finding more dead rodents in the last month than I’ve seen in well over two years.
The first one was a mole that for some reason climbed into the open bucket in the outhouse that holds the lime. The lime is the off-grid version of a vanilla candle, and is essential to using the facilities. I was not surprised to find the little bugger frozen solid in a bucket that offered no food or shelter even though I had no idea why it went in there. I buried him… Unceremoniously.
About a week later, I spent a nice comfortable night watching TV and soaking up electric light and flushing toilets at my girlfriends, and when I got home in the morning, I found what I think is a rock vole frozen to death. This was in another small bucket on the porch in which I keep some chicken food.
I use a combination of store-bought chicken feed and winter wheat, and when I was making a mix of the two, I had a small amount of the wheat left over. This is a bucket that I can understand the rodents trying to get into at least. It was frozen solid, and since there was only a little wheat left in it I just tossed the vole and wheat into the woods. Hopefully something eats him before he thaws and smells and Pico eats him.
And even though there was only a little wheat frozen to the bottom of the bucket, the very next day there was a deer mouse in the bottom. This was the first of the three rodents that was still alive when I found it, and since it hadn’t been living inside my house, I decided to let it take it chances back out in the wild.
As I laid the bucket down out front, the mouse scampered off. It went a few yards down the trail towards the chicken coop, and then stopped. I went inside to get the camera, and when I came out again, it was making a big loop over the snow back towards the woods. I watched it run and leave a neat little trail across the snow. I got cold and went inside, knowing that I wouldn’t get a good shot of the mouse now.
Later, as I made my way to the outhouse, I noticed that the mouse tracks went right under the shed. I took a little solace in the fact that it’ll be around for the rest of the winter. I like having the wildlife around, even if it does require me to perform funerals on occasion.
Winter is approaching, and rather more quickly than I would really like. Sure, I’ve got the new stove and a shed chock full of dry hardwood, but I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed our summer-like fall.
“They” are calling for snow next week, but we’ll see what happens.
I had an inkling that this was coming anyway. Yes, I know that it’s October and that it’s a reasonable assumption to think that we’ll be getting snow soon. But last Friday, I got home from work and opened the front door. I let Pico and the cats out to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. But when I went inside the cabin, I found a sight that told me winter was right around the corner.
The big window was literally covered in ladybugs. The little ladies and gents like to winter in houses, and since my place is the only building around for quite a distance, it only makes sense that they would seek shelter with me. But the amount of ladybugs trying to get into my house told me that there would be cold and snow before the forecasters ever did.
Shortly after that, I made a trip to the outhouse. I don’t talk about my outhouse a lot because I figured that not many (if any) of you would really want to hear about it. But don’t worry, this story will not be rich in detail.
My outhouse is a piece of junk. It was apparently built for people even shorter than me, and has at different times been used for target practice. So despite the small door and low ceiling, there is actually quite a bit of cross-ventilation created by the small holes where the twenty-two caliber shells went through the walls.
As I was sitting there, I heard a familiar sound. It was the scratchy scramble of a mouse. There are a couple of mice that call the cabin home, but so far they stay in the walls and don’t really bother me. But a mouse in the outhouse, that’s something new.
I glanced around and noticed some small pieces of paper trapped in a spider web near the upper corner. I had accidentally left the toilet paper holder open, and the mouse had helped itself to some of the wrapper. As I looked around, I also noticed that one of the pieces of plywood that make up the ceiling was peeling apart. I caught a glimpse of something moving up there and decided that this was a better setup than having them move into the cabin.
A few days later, I was again entering the outhouse and movement caught my eye. Three very little mice were scrambling up from the seat to the ceiling. They were in no hurry, and mama mouse leisurely followed them up the wall and into their little nest.
I have to admit, those little mice were awfully cute. I had no intention of evicting them from their spot, and just need to remember to close the toilet paper holder. And at this point, I honestly hope they have enough shelter to get them through the winter. I mean, they did pick a crappy place to live.
I was watching the sun come up over the Vermont mountains, listening to Pico splash in the lake and really appreciating the bug free morning. The haziness of the air made for a nice sunrise, all pinks and purples. Pico loves the water, even though I have to give him a warm-up throw or two of the ball to get him to really swim. But once he’s in, he loves it.
Ed caught a mouse last night. At three in the morning. And he wouldn’t kill it. He just walked around for half an hour with the poor thing in his mouth. Every couple of minutes Ed would drop him just to catch him again. He was growling at Herbie and Pico and me. Finally I just picked Ed up and carried him outside, where he dropped the mouse and it ran off.
I’m no fan of mice, especially in my house, but I was surprised when it ran off. As far as I know, it’s only the second mouse Ed’s ever caught. And he responded to my travesty of releasing his prey by knocking a glass onto the floor, shattering it. He maintained eye contact the entire time. Now, the next time this happens, I will be faced with the decision of letting him torment the mouse or incurring Ed’s wrath. Well, sorry little mice, but I gotta live with that cat.