Snakes and Mice and Everything Nice

My Fellow Friends and Family,

I wish, that just for one blog, one single blog, the main focus would not have to be rodents. Or snakes. Or bugs. But guess what? That is just not the row I am destined to hoe.

A bit of a recap before I jump into the dust devil that is my life.

I had originally planned to live in Bisbee this year, but an amazing opportunity arose and I am now living in my own house on a real, live, Arizona Cattle Ranch! The owners live on the ranch about a mile or so away, and they are the kindest, most amazing, beautiful couple and I am so blessed to know and live by them. Their names are Chuck and Patti; he is retired AirForce Lieutenant Colonel turned rancher and she is retired school teacher, vice superintendent, and reigning best cook in the entire world. And the best part? They include me in their adventurous lives and I get to learn about cooking and sewing and cattle and wildlife, among a plethora of other things.

I live in a beautiful house with a gorgeous view and I absolutely love it. Except for the fact that I am currently undergoing what I can only describe as a raging Mouse-acre. (Like massacre, but with mice. Mouse-acre. Yes, I am fully aware of my pun-niness.)

Warning: If you are overly fond of mice or snakes PLEASE do not continue reading. I have made a promise to myself to make this as PG (maybe PG-13) as possible, but I can only censor so much. You have been warned.

I have never had much experience with mice. I actually, to be honest, have had a mild fondness towards them. I admired Templeton in Charlotte’s Web for his friendship to Wilbur and Charlotte (I know he was a rat. Whatever.) and I kind of thought Stuart Little was neat. And don’t even get me started on my lifelong love of Santa Mouse. However, the only personal experience I have had with rodents of that nature are the rats that my cousin used to own, and they pooped on my head sooooo the old real life track record isn’t great. But for the most part, we have existed in peace. I live my life, they live theirs.. it’s cool.

Until now.

I suppose it all started when I left for summer break and mistakenly left a drawer full of granola bars behind. Now before you think to yourself, “what a stupid, idiotic thing that was to do, you ding bat!” please believe me that I know how stupid stupid stupid that was. For most people, the most negative and reminisce worthy moments of their lives are those such as leaving the Thanksgiving bird out on the table and having a pack of neighborhood dogs come in and eat it. Or breaking the leg shaped lamp on purpose that your husband bought. Or even shooting your eye out. (Yes, I’m alluding to A Christmas Story. I find myself doing odd things such as this on a regular basis ever since moving down here. I think it might be my survival mechanism. That and listening to The Rebel Johnny Yuma on repeat. Johnny Cash for life.)

But for me? It is the image and memory of putting the granola bars in that drawer that haunts me. Night after night. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up, it’s where my mind wanders during the day, it really is just where I am 96% of the time. Because let me tell you. It. Was. A. COLLOSAL. Mistake.

Let me describe to you the types of mice I have encountered in the last week or so and their behaviors.

There was:

Vanishing-Into-Thin-Air-Mouse: This was the first one I saw in my house. It was the day I got back from a fantastic road trip down from Idaho with a great friend. I was loving life and feeling good. And then I saw a gray blur, streaking across my living room floor. It ended up in the corner behind some boxes, and after a fair amount of screaming, jumping up and down, begging for my life and such, I decided that it was time to act. I took a few steps toward it and it darted out to underneath my end table. I quickly, with the help of my friend, built a barricade around the piece of furniture. We never took our eyes off of the table. Not once. I even had a flash light spot light on it. The plan was for her to poke it and I jump on it with a box. Was it a great plan? Ehh. Was it what we could do with what we had? Absolutely. 3..2..1.. INITATE OPERATION TRAP THE MOUSE! And it isn’t there. In fact, it isn’t anywhere. There were no holes on our barricade.. there was no escape. I have since dubbed this one El Chapo and left it at that.

Crazy-Kitchen-Mouse: My friend and I were standing in my kitchen the next day, debating about what to do for the remainder of the time she was here. It was around 12.. in the afternoon. DAYLIGHT. And all of the sudden.. a mouse comes blaring across the kitchen floor.. pedal to the metal.. skidding turns.. the whole 9 yards. I jump back, and stare in shock. Because you know what? Mice are supposed to be timid. And scared. And only active at night. But this little bugger was a rebel and mice etiquette be damned he was going to be out and about on his own terms. And then, with zero warning.. he runs out from underneath the stove towards us! Stops in the middle of the kitchen, sits on his haunches for a few seconds.. STARING at us like the cold blooded killer he is, and then scurried back under the stove. NOT cool Jerry. No bueno.

Crazy-Living-Room-Mouse (related to Crazy-Kitchen-Mouse): I was trying to work out in my living room to a work out DVD.. trying to better myself and my life etc. etc. On the way to the couch where I balance my lap top to work out, I saw a mouse chilling on the kitchen floor. I froze for a minute, much like the many pictures of Bigfoot.. mid stride and all.. and decided that I just could not deal with it at the moment and continued into the living room. And I’ll be darned if not five minutes later that mouse did not come charging across the living room to the couch where the computer was placed. It followed me. It literally.. followed me. I called my parents and they suggested I try to hit it with a broom, so for the next 30 minutes of the work out video, he would dart out on occasion, I would grab my broom and just start swinging. Towards the end.. I wasn’t even really hitting the ground I don’t think. I was just swinging that broom like the crazy person these mice have turned me in to.

Mouse-Who-Licks-Peanut-Butter-Off-Traps: How. The hell. Is this possible? And believe me. I don’t forget to put peanut butter on them. In fact, I smear it and squish it so there is no earthly way that something could get it off the trigger without setting the trap off. And I know I set them right, because in order to re-load the peanut butter, I barely touch them and they about break my toes. This has happened about 5 times now. They somehow get every single morsel of peanut butter off. And then, just to spite me, they leave their nasty little pellet droppings just to say, “Hey, DumbA**, I was here. And I’ll be here again. Just TRY and stop me.” (I know I am making up dialogue for mice. Again, survival mechanism.)

And last but not least..

Mouse-Who-Wandered-On-To-Sticky-Pad-I-Was-Trying-To-Catch-Spiders-With: I can’t talk much about this one.. it was traumatic for everyone involved, more him than me I suppose. I can’t talk about how I disposed of it, how he was still alive when I woke up, how I still have nightmares. I can’t talk about that. But I thought you needed to know he existed.

So I think that is it for now. I have about 15 other stories I could tell, but I don’t think I can type one more word about a mouse and I am sure you do not want to read another one. I have, however, caught 9 so far. And I learned that you should always gather up the dead mice AFTER breakfast, not before. And the exterminator comes tomorrow. So things are looking up! Things are looking up.

I will, however, leave this topic with this thought. I’ve gotten to the point that when I wake up, I almost get this strange excitement in the pit of my stomach to see what I’ve trapped during the night. It is like some twisted Christmas Morning Syndrome over and over again. It must be what Mountain Men feel like when they trap a lion. Or a beaver. Except maybe just a little bit different.

We also have a bit of a snake problem down here. But other than a brief encounter with a snake in my doorway in June, I have not had a personal encounter with one until tonight.

I was driving back from Chuck and Patti’s house. Patti and I cooked chicken all day and she taught me all kinds of amazing tips and tricks and then we made a feast for the 3 of us to eat. And we fed the chickens, watched some TV.. and I was off to my house for the night. It was a great day! I love them so much.

On the way home in the dark, though, I saw a snake in the middle of the dirt road. And let me tell you, I have had it up to my ears in snakes and mice and such, so I thought to myself “I am about to run this son-of-a-gun over!” So I did. And then I got to thinking.. “You know.. I think that snake had black rings around the tail. Crap. I should call Chuck. (Rattle Snakes kill cattle because they bite them on their noses and mouths when they are grazing.. look at all I’m learning!!) Nah.. I just want to go to bed. No I should call Chuck. Okay, I’ll turn around and get a better look at it.” So I did a 16 point turn in the middle of this dirt road and shined my brights at it. I couldn’t get a good look from that angle, so I decided to go back to the other side of the road to get a better view. And you better believe I aimed at him again when I drove back across. So this sucker has been run over twice and is still trying to get across the road. I for sure see the black stripes so I give Chuck a call.. he comes down and confirms it is indeed a Rattle Snake.

I am standing/hanging on my car about 7 yards back because I am a big fat chicken and Chuck goes out with his gun. BANG! BANG! Two shots and he drags the snake into the middle of the road for a better visual. And the snake is not dead. I start cheering Chuck on, because what else can I do? Besides wet myself. Just kidding. Kind of. He then gets a wooden club/ stick from the brush and starts hitting it with that. WHAM! WHAM! WHAAAM! About 7 or 8 times.. and guess what? The snake lives!

“WHOO CHUCK! Goooo Chuck!!!” Look how much help I am!

He takes out his knife and starts to do a number to the little devil with that. He then calls me over to look at “the perfect rattle” it has, because after being shot and beat and stabbed.. you’d think it’d be dead. But all the sudden.. SWISH! It starts to swing! I see the inside of its mouth! I then HAUL myself back to my car and finish wetting myself. Chuck whips out his knife, gives it a few more lickings. The sucker still won’t die.. and then he cuts off its head.

Dead. Gone. RIP. Game Over.

And that was that. But all it took was: Getting ran over twice, getting shot in the head twice .. with a GUN, being pummeled by a club, stabbed repeatedly, and then the removal of its head. And they say cats have 9 lives…

Rereading this little story, I almost started to feel a little bad for the snake but then I thought about what I was actually thinking and that these are cold blooded killers and that better him than me. Because I guarantee it would not have taken all of that to take me out.

So maybe next blog I can tell you a little bit more about my road trip, or school, or normal things like that. But this time? No, this time was all about the mice and the snakes. And with that, I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week 🙂

Love,

Maggie