Part of living in the country is learning to live harmoniously amongst previous residents. Rodents, I mean.
Mice, I get. We’ve had a mouse – or mice – in every home we’ve lived in. It’s to be expected. They’re easy to control, really.
But in the country, you are on their turf. A bit more challenging, but John used multiple approaches to the problem, and eventually the telltale signs of these tiny roommates – the itty bitty poops – disappeared and we could all relax.
The pump house, however, was a different story.
We’re a Costco family. It’s a habit from the recent period of having all four kids at home, eating like growing kids do. John and I add to the demand, of course. A family of six doesn’t think a giant bottle of ketchup is ridiculous. In fact, normal sized groceries look like travel size to us now. Two of our kids are away at college, but the habit is too entrenched. Maybe that’s why we entertain crowds easily. We have supplies.
So moving from a six bedroom four-bath contemporary house with ridiculously massive storage space, to a two bedroom/two bath farm-house presented more than a few storage challenges. Closet space was number one, but food storage was a very close second.
Fortunately, little farms from the early 1900s tend to collect outbuildings. Little barns or sheds, garages, shops… And among ours is a charming two-story pump house where water was once stored in an elevated tank, pumped by the windmill towering next to it. The water tank is long gone from the second story, but there is ample storage space there. We decided to make this our Costco House. It’s only 20 feet from the kitchen door. Brilliant, right?
And the mice were not the problem there.No, that would have been easy.
Can the raccoons get in?
Nope. Solid door and sealed windows. We’re good.
So what’s the problem?
Oh my gosh.
Now, this is coming from a person who owned two rats as pets in the 7th grade. They ran around on the bed with me while I was doing my homework. I can’t believe my mom let me keep them. I know they freaked her out, but she let it roll. (One of the many advantages of being the youngest of seven kids: tolerances are raised.). They were milky white, one with a black hood, and they were clean and sweet. Nice rats. Inside rats.
These were nasty rats. Outside rats.
And we finally met.
I walked in on one sitting in the middle of the floor munching on a box of cake mix he must have dragged out there. He was so large and had such a thick, ropey tail that I shrieked and ran, shuddering and yelping all the way. I’m sure he did, too.
The sightings increased. John came in one morning reporting there was a couple living there. A couple. And he didn’t say, “There are a couple (of rats)…” He said, “There is a couple…” Like romance. Which can lead to reproduction. A freaking Rat Family.
No way. Not in the Costco House.
I began to imagine those movies about rats. Not the cute rate movies like “Ratatouille” (which I loved, even though the scenes with teeming rats were so realistic they freaked me out a little). I’m referring to “Willard” and “Ben”….neither of which I’ve seen, because the previews were enough to keep me away back in the 70s or 80s…whenever they came out. Ick.
Something had to be done.
We’ve gotta get on it.
You get on it, my man.
I mean, I’m a “liberated women”, but in my house, this is a man’s job.
So John went to work on the arsenal. And to it, he added three cats. Actually, three kittens. Sisters. We named them all Mike.
I was not a fan of the cats. For starters, I’m allergic to cats, and I’ve never had one. I cat sat for my sister once, and the cat survived. Barely.
Besides: I’d imagined by now that these rats were equal in size to the kittens.
But we set up the Costco House as a cat house (ohhhh, you know what I mean) by leaving the door cracked open and putting a bed in there for them.
And sure enough, John’s multiple traps, together with those menacing kittens were enough to put a gradual but definite end to the Rat Haus.
I’ve since developed a close relationship with the three Mikes. They are exceptional cat-women and I have learned to appreciate their deft handling of the rodent population, now kept at bay without the need for other traps at all.
And having overcome my distaste for cats, I now wonder if I should keep a more open mind about rats. I mean, I once knew two and even shared a bed with them in a manner of speaking.
Hmmm. I’ll think about it.
Nope. Can’t do it. Rats are out.