The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Of mice and motherboards

I made a trade this evening. A swap to use D’s laptop in exchange for cooking his favourite cauliflower cheese recipe with bacon and tomatoes.

I’m still trying to fix my laptop. The kitchen table is awash with pieces of paper holding tiny screws corralled with Sellotape, with scribbles noting from where they originated on the computer. We have discovered that it probably isn’t an inverter problem as the monitor that we hooked up to the laptop shows nothing from mine but Danny’s displays OK. Thank you Peter and Colin for suggesting this.

I am now down in the deepest caves of the computer, examining the motherboard. Apparently this can crack under stress. Perhaps the credit crunch?

If I can’t solve the problem by Saturday it will be sent away to be fixed.

Meanwhile it’s war in the larder. We discovered that mice had eaten into packs of cereal, rice and raisins. They sampled the salt but clearly didn’t like it.

I like mice but not in our larder so I set two traps. Fallow for a day, they began to execute their deadly commissions on Tuesday. Head count is six already. We have opened a book on the final count. Danny says 10. I reckon that we could catch 65 or more. All the mice that we’ve caught are large husbands. Mice are sociable and tend to have enormous families.

One Christmas we caught 13 mice who were living in the spare room wardrobe. I had flu and was sleeping in the room. Too ill to join in the mice parties – these were wild and noisy events, that kept me awake at night. My Mum was going to sleep there at Christmas so we dusted off the traps.

I hate killing mice. Often I hope that they will just find somewhere better and move on. Thinking about it,  our larder is a mice heaven. Packed with superb tastes from across the globe. If there was a Radio4 larder section in their food awards we would be in with a chance.

The traps are so fast that the little creatures have no time to close their eyes and die with dignity.  Tiny bright black eyes stare accusingly as I remove their bodies from the traps. And they are beautiful. I always applaud when they climb deftly through the shrubs to feast on the bird feeders outside the cottage. Especially when one curls its tail around a twig to get a secure anchor to stretch and reach something delicious.

Meanwhile I’m examining the curly wires inside a laptop.


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11 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jules

    The pantry in the cottage is an old fashioned one. With natural under floor cooling (old style). Unfortunately as the fridge freezer inhabits the compact space the temperature in the summer is warm but in the winter it’s now the perfect cold room. Before FF took up residence it was a natural freezing room.

    I spotted this evening that they have nibbled through the skirting. Tomorrow night barricades will be applied after work.

    Hi Veronica

    I agree. Killing mice is horrid. In fact, up until now, Danny has always set the traps and removed the bodies. This winter I’ve taken up the gauntlet. Quicker and not quite as grisly as I thought. Much easier than drawing and dressing a pheasant.

    Hello Linda

    Transmissions have resumed (ish). Thanks so much for the positive feedback. Much appreciated.

    Hi Paula

    Mice are cute. Out in the garden. I always give them a bt of rein when they first invade (too busy to tackle the problem) but this is crazy.

    John Coe always sets traps in his sheds. I think that I am going to have a permanent trap in the larder from now on. I haven’t even checked the sheds. Aargh!

    Hi Pamela

    I loved your comment.

    In the country, humane traps just send the mice to someone else’s house. Unless you ferry them deep into Nowheresville where they will probably freeze to death.

    I’m fine about mice living in our walls (old walls full of warmth and character) but if they step over the threshold, I don’t want to share our larder with mice.

    Hello Jackie

    I used to love the HFW series on TV but working full time and blogging means no time for telly. So I missed the mad mouse catcher episode so can’t comment. HFW has does so much for the future of chicken buying/rearing in the UK that any eccentric ‘solutions’ are forgivable and must also have made great telly

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Hello Joanna

    Yes you are so wise. I assume that the mice will not be able to reach our stores and than I see the ballet in the shrubs outside the kitchen window as they visit the bird feeders. .

    Hi Belinda

    Thanks for the tips. Glass jars are a must. Loads of diseased estates around here at the moment.

    The Min Pins catch an occasional mouse. They excel with rats (their eyesight is poor). And bigger birds (I hate this) we often find pigeon feathers on the lawn.

    Hi Kate(UK)

    Why do mice have to try everything in a row to see what tastes good? The ones that have died from cleaner abuse will guarantee that the rest of their families will try something else. Poor you. Mess and waste of cash too.

    As you say not all cats are interested in hunting.

    Hello Rosie

    Shrews are a pest but I love seeing them out in the wild. If they didn’t try and move in for free B&B they would survive!

    I reckon that they twig that your cat isnt a mouser.

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