There's a world of difference between the cute chipmunks outside my cabin and the mouse I spotted peering down from atop a cabinet last week.
Mice are elusive, and at first I thought it might be my floaters playing tricks with my vision. But sure enough he ran across the top of the cabinets and disappeared.
Mice make my skin crawl. But chipmunks are like little outdoor pets. They make me smile when they cram their cheeks with peanuts and take them back to their nests. (I once read they tend to forget where they hid their stash, which makes them more endearing.)
Not so with mice, who bring back visions of that rat movie “Willard.” Let them get out of hand and guys in hazmat suits might end up cleaning out your cabin.
What Chip and Dale did for chipmunks, Mickey hasn't accomplished for mice. Cartoon Mickey is cute, but there's no escaping that the species from which he emerged is, let's face it, vermin.
I feed the chipmunks from big bags of peanuts. They're salted in the shell, because I'll eat a handful now and then, so if chipmunks in this neck of the Snowy Range end up with hypertension, it's my fault.
With mice, it's an ongoing war. Years ago I thought it might be a good idea to have some emergency food on hand, in case of nuclear war, a Democrat in the White House, or if the bridge washed out. So I bought a whole case of Ramen noodles (dirt cheap) and stored them on a shelf. Things were fine for a while, until I started noticing a faint crunching sound in the still of the evening.
Turns out those little bastards had gotten into my Ramen noodles, and my cabin was the Golden Corral Buffet for Snowy Range mice. (They didn't eat the flavor packets.) What was left of the case went into the campfire, and that was the end of my “prepper” days. The good news is mice can't get into my emergency cans of Pabst.
In a log cabin, there's a crevice where the rounded logs meet, and if you've got mice, they can run along that crack with ease. Spot one running across your wall and you know it's time to spring into action.
There are lots of options. I have a neighbor who puts down sheets of sticky flypaper that trap mice, where they apparently die a slow, agonizing death by starvation. He keeps the flypaper in place when he's away, so when he returns there are multiple dead Mickeys. It's effective, but gruesome.
Not for me.
Mouse traps can be effective, but getting the peanut butter bait in place, and setting the trap usually involves a couple failed attempts. And it's a downer when you find a dead mouse with his little eyes bugged out after the spring broke his neck.
And some mice are smart enough to lick the peanut butter off the bait pad without springing the trap.
A friend trapped mice when he was in high school, for a woman in Casper who (I am not kidding about this) made little fur coats out of them for Barbie dolls. He can spot a trap that the mice can raid without springing. But, traps are a pain, especially when the go off in your hands while you try to set them.
Lately I'm using d-CON baits that you put in plastic containers. The mice eat the bait, get thirsty, then have the good manners to leave your cabin in search of water, then die. My little visitor last week tells me it's time to re-bait.
Back home in Cheyenne, it's a different story, where my wife is doing battle with pocket gophers burrowing along our driveway and around our trees. She's tried filling in their holes, filling the holes with dog and cat poop (what self-respecting gopher would hang around after that?), and lately she's gassing the little critters with sulfur smoke bombs. She's determined to win this battle – don't bet against her - and like me with the mice, I guess everyone needs a hobby.
Proving once again the lament of home and cabin owners everywhere:
It's always something.
Dave Simpson can be reached at: DaveSimpson145@hotmail.com