Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chasing Rats

Don't be alarmed by that title. No, our house hasn't been overrun by rats. Well, not exactly anyway. While we do have a few of the animal kingdom who seem to like to visit here from time to time, only a few mice have made it inside and tried to stake a claim here on occasion.

We have had an inordinately large visitation this summer - or so it seems - by some four-legged creatures who dearly love to trash our trash. Seems they really believe whole-heartedly in the tag line "One man's trash is another's treasure." However, I wish they would be just a trifle neater about their rooting around.

Bill - that's the son-in-law -has stalked some of these creatures. Managed apparently maim one of the black type with the white stripes down their back and the ungodly smell they emit about 4-6 weeks ago and the smell hasn't quite dissipated yet! Of course, it was compounded by the fact that it crawled off, across the road, down the smallish road-runoff ditch there to where it joins up with another ditch that runs beneath the road and apparently died under the road. Now there was an odor! Ok, we won't pursue that topic any further, other than to say it WAS gross, very gross!

Bill tried building a fenced in area around our trash cans in an effort to ward off these scavengers but somehow, they managed, or some of them did anyway, to crack the code and get in there from time to time. The only good thing about that fencing then was at least their rubble was fairly well contained in that spot and not rolling and blowing paper, cans, you name it, all over the parking area out front or down in the yard too.

The thing of it is, we do generate a good volume of garbage what with three adults, a teenager, and two small ones in the house. And, we have no place to put full trash bags to await garbage pickup day other than in the cans out front. Well, we do have the deck off the kitchen but that is far from a "safe" place because the four-legged friends have no qualms about coming that close to civilization either.

So, about two weeks ago, Bill borrowed an animal trap to set out in hopes of capturing some of these visitors and then, taking them down to the woods about a mile or two - or ten -away from the house. He got this trap from his former mother-in-law who, when she brought it down here, also brought two of those nice and tasty -also quite expensive - packets of a certain name brand tuna fish. Mandy took one look at those packets and quickly stashed them in the cupboard for our own use and subbed a can of the "el cheapo" tuna we normally purchase.

Bill then set the trap and met with success the first night he set it out. The creature caught woke Mandy up about 5:30 the next morning. She looked out the window and what did she see? Well, it was the neighbor's cat, aptly named "Tuna."

Yesterday morning, when we got up, we discovered, much to our chagrin, that the garbage bag (full) someone (probably Mandy) had placed out on the deck by the kitchen door had been raided during the night. Boy, what a mess! Trash strewn all over the deck. Bill cleaned it all up yesterday and last night, reset the "humane" trap there. And, this morning, there in the trap sat this nice little raccoon - not a big full grown one, not a baby - ok, a teenager I guess it was. Busy as all get it too, having a feast with the garbage bag Bill had used to clean up the mess from Friday morning! So, he gently removed the trap, took it to his truck and provided a free ride to the woods for that little furball, in hopes that its tracking devices send it in search of food in a different direction - like maybe east of here!

But all of this activity some how managed to inspire Mandy to do some belated "spring" cleaning or maybe she's getting a jump on the idea of fall house cleaning. I don't know but I do hate when she gets on one of these trips.

She's after a certain type of rat though - one that lives, moves within the household and is commonly referred to as "The biggest pack rat ever." Yes, that would be ME!

She and I have much different versions of what constitutes "trash" at times. And today, her instincts led her to cleaning out kitchen cupboards, rearranging what items should be stored above the cupboards because they are things we do use but only on a few special type occasions and are too large to take up all kinds of space inside the cupboards. Roaster pans, big cooking pots, the cake saver and its' accompanying glass plate bottom, the broiler pan, etc. Ok, I'm good with what she did there as she didn't actually trash anything but did remove a few things to a box, packed them away and they'll be moving to either the attic or to the storage thing Bill and his Dad rent a few miles away.

Then she moved down to the actual cupboards and had a field day - especially in the cupboard where I was storing packages of pudding mixes, jello and the like.

Here's where things get tricky you see. I have never in my life paid a lick of attention to this little thing on the side or bottom of packages (or cans) called an "expiration date." NEVER! I bought items, put them away, used them from time to time but had never put them away by date so sometimes the newer packs were used before the old ones and who knew the difference? No one has ever had a food borne illness in this house from ingesting any of those foods so what's the big deal? Mandy, on the other hand, some where along the line, has become a little warrior in her quest to rid the house of anything that is "outdated." And boy, she had a field day there today.

The upshot is we ended up with the cupboards above the refrigerator being totally empty! Well, they aren't empty now as she moved some dishes and pans - the type we do use but infrequently but aren't huge in size into those places.

Now, all I have to do is remember where the hell these things have been hidden away when the time comes, some day in the future, when I want to use one of those things.

And, I'll have to bite my tongue too some time in the future as well, I'm sure, when I decide to make something that requires either a specific jello flavor or a pudding that I know I have in the cupboard and when I reach for it, it will be gone because she's pitched it out today.

The good thing, really, about this whole deal - I hope - is that I won't go out and overload the house again with these items.

Yeah right! I'm sure it's gonna happen that way. But, it's a start.


Paula said...

Very funny post! I'm definately chuckling on my end. We have had a raccoon visitor the last few nights in the dog food and leaving muddy little tracks everywhere. Not nearly as destructive as it seems your little friends have been. Good luck finding your way around your cupboards now!

Shelby said...

You make me laugh!! :)

thanks - and happy Sunday!

Patois42 said...

We have our pop-up camper in the driveway, all popped up. I'm sleeping out here with my kids tonight plus two friends. My eldest just opened the front door of the house to join us in the camper and he shouted, "I'm looking right at a raccoon here." He was. It was eating the outdoor cat's food. The varmint wasn't interested in moving on quickly, either.