August 24, 2014

Living in our garage

On the woodpile

Keeping the woodpile in the garage means that even in the most miserable weather, I have only to go a few feet to grab dry logs that will burn nicely. But it also means that on an August day, when I wandered out into the garage barefoot to begin cleaning the backshelves, I was not alone. All along the woodpile, little heads turned toward me, woken by the vibration of my footsteps or perhaps my scent carried across the warm air.

Snakes love a woodpile.

A few years ago, when I asked my students what I should do about the snakes in my garage, they acted like my question was silly. “Why would you want to get rid of the snakes?” a young man said. “They'll eat the mice. And unlike mice, snakes don’t carry diseases.”

As I was cleaning the garage, I tried to remember my students’ words. One snake stretched atop a log like a sunbather on the first day of summer. Another, clearly the shy younger sibling, curled in the corner, almost out of sight. “At least they keep the mice away,” I told myself. I kept up that line of reasoning even when I began sweeping underneath the shelves and came up with a dustpan of mouse droppings.

I found myself tensing up just a bit as I sorted through stuff, even though I was pretty sure that snakes wouldn't climb the metal shelves. When I opened a box of snowboarding boots, I didn’t see any snakes, but it was filled with shredded paper that just might be a mouse’s nest. I carried the box in, set it on the table, and promptly forgot about it. That turned out to be a mistake as I discovered several hours later. With-a-Why, sitting at the couch with his computer, noticed it first. “I think I just saw a mouse run across the room,” he said.

“How could that be?” my husband asked. “We have FIVE cats.” Three of the cats, in fact, were in the room, stretched out comfortably on the carpet. Then I noticed some movement on the kitchen table. A baby mouse ran to the edge of the table, looked down, then ran the other way. Another mouse peeked out of the cardboard box. Another little mouse had reached a wooden chair and was heading to the floor. I yelled for my family to help as I began scooping baby mice up and tossing them out the back door.

The five cats in the house and numerous garter snakes in the garage? They did nothing.


mommo4.5 said...

I'm enjoying the mental image of you all running around catching baby mice. Good job!

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

Good thing Red-haired Sister is there to help you with the snakes!


L said...

SIGH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yikes!! You put a mouse nest on the table and let numerous baby mice (as cute as they are and YUCKY!!) lose in the house?

Yikes & yuck!

We had the same eerie experience of our cat doing NOTHING when we found a couple of mice in our old house (they were living in the kitchen, under two pieces of furniture, eating the cat's food very happily).

And the most incredible coincidence was that we found the mouse the next morning after having watched Rat-attouille the night before! We had to catch that mouse (or mice, can't really remember) 'cause our cat didn't.

Sigh... So much for the snakes catching mice!

Amanda said...

Laughed through my chills. Also, am now heading home with a much more suspect approach to our woodpile.

Zhoen said...

Larder, can't eat 'em all at once, after all.

As for cats, meh, not hungry, not in the mood for a mousesnack.