What's not to like? Hello, Nature! Come on in and live with us! I felt a little like Snow White with all her bird and mouse friends.
Then we decided to remodel the basement. We started by taking out the fireplace. There was cheap lava rock on top of black grout on top of brick which housed the mouse equivalent of Mexico City. There was more insulation in there than there is in any one of our walls, all brought in by nesting mice. There was a ton of poop pellets, along with about 5 pounds of pilfered dog food and cereal. That's when I realized that this had to be more than just a few mice who lived here when we moved in, and my plan of simply outliving them wasn't going to work. That's when I began my war.
I set traps and caught some every single day. I thought I would catch the ones in the house and that would be the end of it. I discovered that the little bastards were really drawn to my laundry room garbage can, and could jump in, but it was too tall for them to jump back out. I went down to do a load one morning and saw 5 pairs of little brown eyes looking up at me. I showed everyone in the family, made the kids cry when I told them we would NOT be keeping them as pets, and then brought them out the backdoor and set them free. They ran right back to the house. The next morning I caught 4 mice in the garbage can. I couldn't let them go because they would come right back so I had to kill them. But how? It was a real dilemma. I had never killed anything in my life and I really didn't want to kill these 4 adorable little fellow-mammals. Mitch told me to stick my leg in there and stomp them. Barbaric. I couldn't do that. Then he told me to drown them. I couldn't do that either. He acted all exasperated by my unwillingness to commit murder and said, "Fine, I'll do it!" and I'm pretty sure he just tipped the can over where I couldn't see and let them go.
As the months of the mouse war dragged on, my heart grew colder and I became a killing machine. I started to enjoy emptying mouse traps and one day my friend Jonelle found me methodically smooshing the life out of the garbage-can mice with a baseball bat, butter-churn style (the last one was always the fastest), and she screamed and wretched like I was disembowling infants (melodramatic much?) Mice seemed to be drawn to my house because of the readily available supply of bird seed and dog food and they were somehow gaining easy access.
Meanwhile, one of the basement walls had a *smell.* We called it the stink wall, as in:
Kid: Mom! Where is my yoga ball?
Mom: Check next to the stink-wall, I think I saw it there.
The stink wall, remodeled
The smell was faint and animal-ish so I chose to assume it was because of the dog crate and cleaned it until it was cleaner than any room in the house. The smell was still there. I cleaned the carpet. The smell was still there. I told Mitch, who said it was probably mold or something. When he took the wall apart, he discovered that a two foot section of wall (which was hidden under cheap paneling... Jealous?) was eaten away, as well as a huge section of the particle board under the siding. In between the siding and paneling there was no actual wall left. It was stuffed full of mouse corpses. Stuffed. Full. It was a load-bearing mouse graveyard. Mitch had to literally shovel them out.
In the past ten years we have discovered two things that we once thought were awesome, but have since found out totally suck: Nature and home-ownership.