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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  1. We caught our first rodent last night – a shrew. I’d rather not kill them but they are an unhealthy addition to the house and like Kate I have a cat who isn’t interested in mousing.

  2. kate (uk)

    Oh yes, it is mouse under the sink time of year. Odd noises yesterday evening made me realise I was not alone. Found the evidence under the sink in the downstairs loo as it/they had nibbled through the corners of all four of my ‘bogoff’ dishwasher cleaner bottles. You can imagine the mess. Now have the humane traps in place, this is assuming the dishwasher cleaner that they must have consumed/been very well washed in as it ALL came out EVERYWHERE has not killed them first.
    Is my cat Andrew remotely interested? No.

  3. Yep, that is what I came in to write. Glass containers are a must.

    In the city mice were not the problem, cockroaches were, but spray sees them off. Here in the country where it gets really cold in winter the mice love to holiday inside.

    I use these coffee jars 008 300.jpg

    And also a large screwtop coffee jar from another brand (couldnt find a picture online)

    I have 20 of these big ones (they hold 750gm of dried penne pasta no problem) and many more of the moccona ones. I use the small one for spices too.

    You might be able to find a big lot somewhere. (deceased estate?) Older people tend to keep everything. I hate to think how many jars etc are in my parents place.

    Of course a cat helps, but so should those min pins of yours…


  4. Mice … two things, first you should keep everything in glass containers, because they can nibble through plastic (REALLY … there’s a film, probably on YouTube, that shows a larder full of mice at night, made with infrared camera, and you’d be amazed what they can eat)

    and second, they really don’t like the smell of a cat, so borrowing a cat for a few days can do the trick and get them to move house. The tricky part is that the cat probably doesn’t want to stay, so has to be shut in with a litter tray. We lent our cat to a neighbour who lives in a barn when mice ate the cable nest in his brand new car; they were gone in a week

    Good luck – and with the computer, too


  5. or you could consult that utterly barmy mouse charmer that Hugh F-W had on one of his series. The one where he totally lost credibility, because of the barmy mouse charmer, remember?
    I’m rearing these lovely pigs, chickens and lambs, for slaughter but I need to call in a strangely gothic nut case to tempt the mice away live. That episode :0)

  6. I had mice for a while. They nibbled chocolate bars and were capable of removing a whole gingerbread man overnight without leaving a single crumb! I was testing them with the gingerbread (which was stale anyway), I needed more evidence that I really did have mice. I set humane traps and caught nothing, they seemed to have moved on. Months later I discovered they had been tucking into the bag of corn I had for filling the wheat bags I was making. So I relocated the traps and bingo! I caught the little offender that night. Then I had the dilemma of what to do with the mouse. I took it for a walk and released it in a field nearby. So far there is no further evidence of mice – in spite of the new bag of wheat! Now, if you are short of a project of two, you can look on the internet and find ways of making your own humane mouse trap. Most of these seem to be based around persuading the mice to walk the plank and fall into a bucket. As your mice are in the pantry perhaps you could set up a series of planks from different shelves, which if weighted could reset themselves giving you a bucket full of 65 live mice in the morning. Hmmm! I see minor flaw in this plan …

  7. Mice are such an awafull thing. In a previous house where we lived we had tones. First I thought that they were so nice, so small and lovely. But this was just the first two or three I saw. After that, I couldn’t stand them anymore.
    We moved!

  8. So glad you are still communicating – the thought of waiting until your computer is fixed is tooooo depressing. Please tell Danny that you are providing a public service in continuing with transmissions!

  9. Fingers crossed for the laptop!

    I hater killing mice. Despite — or perhaps because of — having a cat (the mice he brings home are not always dead!) we have occasional mouse infestations under the sink (the rubbish bin is probably a major attraction!). I use one of those humane traps and carefully carry my bright-eyed little captures outside and down the road to set them free. But once I’ve captured one a day for a week, I do sometimes wonder whether I’m not just catching the same creatures over and over again!

  10. Your pantry sounds like a haven for both humans and mice! You must have more refined mice down where you live as our like to snack on candles and washing tablet! I hate the thought of having mice in the house, but I’m slowly learning to accept it’s a part of country life. I hope you manage to catch them all soon

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