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Rodents did not used to bother me. I have had mice run over me when camping in an open tent as well as in my closed trailer. I had a semi-tame packrat in my log cabin: I sent him to packrat heaven after watching him burrowing through a loaf of bread. This was in the 70s, before I heard the phrase “They were here first.”

We live in a wildlife wonderland. The smaller the creature, the more there are. They are a fine adjunct to the birds, the deer, raccoons, rare bear and rarer still, cougars. Our pond draws all manner of creatures which we can view from our large windows, or if we are still, sitting on the deck that hangs over the pond.

The pond is a small one, maybe a quarter acre, sixty yards from one end to the other, 20 yards or so across the widest part outside the window narrowing to a five or six foot fjord at the western end where there is a year round spring. This feeds water to the pond along with the notorious West Boesel high water table. It used to be more aggressively fed by an irrigation ditch until we learned that the salmon were here first and the ditch was shut down. Never mind there was never a sign of a salmon in twenty years.

A few weeks ago we had a record eleven wood ducks swimming out there along with a pair of mallards. Each year more of the woodies seem to come in and then leave. Today we count five drakes and for a while two hens, who we think are now nesting. What a gorgeous colorful sight they are, but extremely spooky. Merely moving to get my camera while within the house will have them literally beating feet to hidden places out of sight of the house.

The pond is very still and not too attractive. While the water is clear, it is covered with a variety of debris. There are catkins from alder and birch and willow, and a growing coverlet of fluff from the cotton wood trees that abound, along with the icky buds from those trees. Once in a while a crane will come to look for fish, and feeds on the latter. I call him Ickybud Crane.

But the best show is the birds, the bird feed and the squirrels and chipmunks who perform all manner of gymnastics attempting to get to the feeders, some supposedly “Squirrel Proof” and none succeeding in that description. Today we were treated to a pair of tiny baby chipmunks already scrounging seed the birds had scattered on the deck.

For all this delight, there is a dark underbelly - the realm of mice and packrats that inhabit all our vehicles.They are especially fond of the Lincoln, a 1992 model some of my golfing friends refer to as the Pimpmobile. It has a very large trunk that seems to accommodate a burgeoning mouse population. I have set traps up to four at a time baited with peanut butter and the daily extracting of the little corpses and flipping them away soon had a raven sitting in a tree waiting for the morning feeding. One morning I hit the Trifecta.

However, at the other end of the car, the rodents have a taste for wiring - not just the insulating layer but the copper wire as well. There is really no good place to set a trap in the engine compartment of the Lincoln: it is too full of engine. Our most recent encounter had both cars at E&M Auto for repairs. A relatively minor one on the Lincoln, but there was carnage in Gloria’s Toyota, a Japanese car. As if to say, “This is payback for Pearl Harbor,” the rodents ate through all four spark plug wires in an overnight orgy, and as appetizers attacked other wires. Ms. Gloria too has traps in her car.

It has occured to me that setting the peanut-buttered traps, while catching a periodic mouse, is also a scented invitation to the entire mouse and rat population to come and dine. They have driven us both to abandoning our carports and parking far from human habitation.

Thinking the problem might be solved, I opened the rear end of the Lincoln yesterday to remove my golf clubs. There were two volleyball- large piles of engine hood insulation in there, three sprung traps looking ashamed because of their failures. That was enough.

I have never been an advocate of De-Con rodent poison but I succumbed and got some at the hardware store. I put one little plate in the trunk and another little box on the engine. Today the trunk supply was untouched, but under the hood, half the supply was gone. The car will stink for a while, I hope, but at least it will run.

I do feel a certain sense of regret for taking these draconian measures, after all, they were here first. Or so would say the mouse-huggers.


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We too have had to trap our share of rodents, and we also have made a friend of a raven that now eagerly awaits the trappings of the day. Sometimes they are sparse and it sits in the tree and "talks" to us. I was amazed at how observant they are. It kind of makes it o.k. to trap the little buggers, now that they are going to a good cause :)

Lauri Martin