Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ninja Mice

Before I get on to how the vegetable plot is getting on . . . let's turn our attention to the subject of mice.

At this time of year as the local amphibians start to go into hibernation, the tiny mammals start to think about where they're going to live during the long, dark and damp winter months.  Some of these rodents think that it would be a jolly good idea to live in our house.  The holes in the house that allow water and sewage in and out of our house make a nice way in and out for small rodents as well. 

We normally find mice under our sink.  This has historically been a good spot for them.  They are protected from what ever cat or cats we have living in the house as there are tight fitting cabinet doors that protect the under-the-sink area.  There is a way in via the plumbing I mentioned before.  To add to that the fact that the internationally recognised place for the kitchen rubbish is under the sink.  This provides the food that mice will need to live and indeed breed over the long winter months.  I keep mousetraps set under the sink all year long but it is in the autumn that they trap has to be emptied most frequently.  I'm not squeamish about these things.  The trap just gets new bait and re-set.   I keep meaning to block these holes with steel wool, but I never remember to buy some when I am in a hardware store or a D.I.Y. hypermarket.

Earlier in the autumn, our mousetrap broke.  It was banged against the side of the wheelie bin a bit too vigorously and it broke.  I stopped by a local shop on my lunch break and got another mousetrap (they may have sold steel wool but I seem to have a thing about not remembering it).  It was the same model mousetrap as the broken one and the same sort of mousetrap I have been used to using for decades.

Fairly reliable mousetrap
I baited and set the new mousetrap next to the mouse entry point under the sink and thought no more about it.   Until . . . I noticed that the trap needed to be re-baited. It hadn't sprung but the bait was gone.  (By the way - peanut butter is the best bait for mousetraps)   Hmmm

I re-baited and re-set the mousetrap.  Then again the next day the trap needed to be re-baited.  I put new peanut butter on the mousetrap each day for a week while thinking that this new mousetrap was not very good. 

Empty but unsprung mousetraps!!
I then went out to the greenhouse and dug out the nasty all metal mousetrap (see above photo) that I use in the greenhouse when I wish to keep my springtime seed trays from being robbed by sneaky greenhouse mice.  I set both mousetraps under the sink.  That'll get them!

Well, it got ONE mouse. If my years on the planet have taught me one thing, it's this.  You never have just one mouse.  I baited and re-set both traps and put them back under the sink.  

Ninja mice have been here!
I am now re-baiting two mousetraps each day.    This morning when I was taking The Man of the Place to work I stopped off at the local shop.  It turns out that they sell mousetraps.  I bought a third mousetrap.

Do you think that these mice have a chance?  I'll let you know later on.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Love

Firstly, let me say that I am very sorry to have neglected the blog for so long.  I had a cruddy summer job that sucked all my time and creativity - for very little pay.  I don't work there any longer so, I'm back now.

I have been enjoying evening walks with the dog.  As the days grow shorter, the walks are getting darker.  I'm going to have to dig out the hi-viz vest.

George includes his hand so we have a sense of scale
The mushrooms this year are bigger than I have ever seen them.    These seem to be the size of  . . . oversized mushrooms.
Fly agaric
This one looks as though it should have an elf sitting under it.

I've been on numerous evening walks with Polly up to the woods. 
Since August, our cat Julio has decided that he needs to come with us.  So now there is this strange American just outside the village who walks both her dog and her cat.  Julio is one odd cat.

The mushrooms are as numerous as they are plentiful as well.  They are under every single large beech tree. 
Mushroom with purple gills
-unknown red capped mushroom -

We had taken delivery of a load of logs the other day and the new logs need to be stacked on the big green plastic tarp.  This morning,  The Man of the Place was re-arranging the firewood and discovered some beasties that have already begun their hibernation.  Frogs, toads and two newts were sleeping in last year's logs and old bits of bark.  We didn't want to disturb them my desire for organisation overrides.  I demand that all logs be put neatly on the tarp and the tarp folded over the logs to keep the rain off..  It is so nice to have dry logs when we need to light a fire.
The frogs were still jumpy but the newts barely moved at all.  We have relocated the critters to a spot the poly tunnel under some black plastic that won't get stepped on.
hibernating newt
 My newt was quite plain.  The other newt had a few dark spots and a very red belly!

This frog was very handsome.  I hope the hibernation is successful for these small and delicate creatures.  When moving the logs, we found earthworms and wood lice.  When relocating the frogs to the new hibernation spot, I put a fat worm next to each frog.  They might want a snack later on.  :-)

I'll report on the state of the garden next time. . . . .