More of Mice and Men…

Originally appeared in VioletsFun Photo Journal, issue no. 5 (1999)

The last time that we talked, we told you the story of our ongoing battle against the blossom-eating tenants of our barn.  For now, at least, we seem to have won the battle, if not the war.  A few weeks of baiting and laying mousetraps each night seemed to do the trick.  Besides a few old-fashioned spring traps, another secret weapon seemed to be Olive’s Chinese cabbage.  One night’s leftovers was worth two weeks of mouse bait.  Each morning, I would look through the shop and greenhouse for sprung traps and mice.  Sometimes there’d be no mice, but the cabbage would always be gone.  Eventually, well over a dozen mice were caught.  Blossoms stopped disappearing about the same time the cabbage did.

They put up a good fight and, over this time, we grudgingly gained a measure of respect for our foe.  Even in defeat, though, they seemed to have none for us.  They seemed to take great joy in making us look foolish, and not just by having the occasional free cabbage dinner.  This was made obvious the one afternoon that Olive spotted one of them, very relaxed and laying on its back, cleaning itself.  It sat on a ledge, at the end of a plant shelf, no more than a couple of feet from Olive as she worked on some plants.  When Olive spotted this and told me, I was sure she was joking.  But when I walked over to see for myself, he just stayed there and continued to clean himself.    All that seemed to be missing was the little reclining chair and television.  He cared so little that we were watching that he stayed there while I found a container to place over him and carry him out with.  Out into the cold with his less-pampered relatives!  No more living on easy street…and worst of all, no more cabbage dinners!

Finally, no more four-legged foot races across the ceiling tiles above our heads in the shop and, most importantly, no more destruction of the plants.  Life is beginning to return to normal.  Certainly, “Lucy” (our dog) and “Charlie” (one of our cats) are happier, since they can roam the greenhouse without fear of stepping (or putting a nose) in a trap. Our other cat, “Bill”, is allowed in the plant room only with very close supervision, since he’s been known to do as much damage to our plants as the mice have.  Bill is our resident mouser, and catches anything that dares to venture outside the shop and into our living quarters.  Every now and then, he’ll catch one, only to remind us that our victory is only temporary.  Our enemy outnumbers us, is more fearless than us and, we must admit, can even be more clever than us.  We’ve kept the traps.  If necessary, I’m prepared to set them, and Olive is ready to make more cabbage.

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