The mouse was my friend.
He was a cute little critter that showed up at 4AM. At first, I didn’t notice him. I thought I had a speck of dust on my glasses. I cleaned it off and drank more coffee. Then, I thought, “I think it’s a mouse.”
We argued for a few weeks, my husband and I. “It’s a vole,” he said. I didn’t know what a vole was, but I do know a mouse when I see one. A couple of times it darted behind the wood stove. When I went to say hi, it was gone. This went on for a while–I checked for cracks and escape routes. I didn’t see one. Every morning, he came, zipped behind the wood stove, and disappeared.
Once, he sat on the stair and watched me write, then went into the kitchen, where, “poof” he vanished. One night he came into my room while I was reading and marched from my nightstand, along the radiator to his magic portal, where he vanished again.
I named him Mousedini.
The dogs were no help. They liked Mousedini. They’d open one eye, watch Mousedini scamper across the floor, and shut the eye. Too much trouble for such a small snack. Besides, I didn’t want the dogs to get Mousedini. Mousedini and I were friends.
But then, something happened. I learned that it wasn’t Mousedini–it was Mousedinis, plural, because mice never travel alone. And I realized Mousedini wasn’t as good a houseguest as he could be. He was leaving little pellets all over my pantry (I’ve cleaned a lot of hamster cages…), ripping open bags, and carrying legumes and rice all over the cellar, storing it in little piles.
I’d go to swap out the winter clothes from the antique dresser and get a pile of navy beans instead. Reach for a hammer or a paint brush? Get a cup of rice.
Mousedini and his friends were messy, unsanitary, and what was worse, they didn’t share. There’s nothing like planning for a nice pot of chili and having one hole ripped in every bag of beans, or lifting a bag of flour so it can drain all over the floor.
We didn’t have visitors, we had an invasion. For our health and safety, we had to get it under control.
You’ll never be mouse free.
Know this. Once you have mice, you have mice.
You can control the population with traps and gadgets (If you catch and release, they’ll be back in ten minutes) but you have to remove the incentive to invade. I am an animal lover. I can’t kill them or bring out the traps. I delegated that job and tackled the cleaning and storage.
Store food properly
Most of my stockpile is down cellar. I have walls of pantry shelves.
Clean and sanitize
- Go through the food. Toss anything that’s been moused.
- Of the things that haven’t been invaded, check the bags, seals, and boxes. Save them for storage.
- Take everything off the shelves. Spray with bleach. Mice carry deadly diseases I can’t spell, which is why Mousedini and I could no longer live together in peace. He wasn’t litter box trained.
Restore the food properly
- I bought sealable bins, jars, boxes, and canisters. Boxes of pasta go in one big bin. Baking supplies in another. Sugar, that’s too tempting. That’s always in a giant mason jar. Mice–if properly motivated–will eat through plastic. Glass is your nuclear defense.
I used to store my canning jars and brewing bottles nicely on a shelf. I now store them upside-down in canning boxes or bins with a lid. That way, I know no mouse has rested in the jar I brought up to make iced tea.
A note on guilt…
A real farmer or homesteader never would’ve had this problem. They’d have nuked Mousedini and his friends at the sign of the first hamster pellet. In the true spirit of the Poser Homestead, I created my infestation by falling victim to Mousedini’s cuteness.
This is a common problem for beginner and poser homesteaders. It is a problem for raising meat and exterminating any cute fuzzy creatures.
DO NOT FEEL BAD. Mice carry diseases. They contaminate food stores, they create messes, and they build nests out of your clothing, wall insulation, and packing left in boxes.
Did I mention they eat electrical wires on occasion?
You have to get rid of them. If you are an animal loving vegetarian like I am, outsource this job, and make sure to keep up on it.
And don’t feel guilty at all!