Sunday, January 4, 2015

False Alarm and a Mouse in the House

  Happy New Year from all of us here on the Shawhan farm! Before we delve into a new year of chronicles and characters, I feel like I would be cheating everyone if  I didn't share a story that took place the day before New Year's Eve...
  The first event took place in the hours of late afternoon, say around 4:00 or 4:30 P.M. (Late enough that all the hens should have been done squirting out their eggs by then.) I was upstairs in Carl's room sorting through all his books and re-organizing them on his bookshelf, which is located in Carl's closet. I had to move the bookshelf to the closet because otherwise a certain little boy would take his books, one at a time, and toss them over the gate and down the stairs. I decided to teach him early on how one respects works of literature, no matter how small, and took the temptation away all together and so far the plan has worked. Over the holidays, Carl accumulated several more books, including some that were Dan's and grandpa's, so I was sorting through the masterpieces of the Little Golden Books, Stan and Jan Berenstain and Mother Goose, when I heard a loud ruckus coming from the barn. At first I didn't think anything of it...I mean, how many times have those girls cried wolf, just to have me fly out there and have nothing be wrong?
  I completely forgot about the commotion when the bookshelf came toppling over and all of Carl's literary works fell on top of me with a soundtrack of expletives and a fear Carl was hurt. Thankfully, the cascade missed his little legs and he was content to sit down and start flipping through pages. As I began to replace the books, I heard the chickens again. Sighing, I stood up and decided Carl was happy for the moment, hurdled the gate at the top of the stairs and ran out to the barn.
  My original thought was the Mink Mob has struck again. What was I going to do about it? Stab it with the pitch fork? Shoot it? I could probably figure out how to shot the antique .22 Dan keeps in the barn for such occurrences, but it would take precious time the Mob could use to get away. Plus, by this now, I was sure we already had a s few casualties.
  When I got there I saw almost everyone milling around in the Kennel Bar area. They seemed pretty calm...not that edgy energy they get after an attack. I looked into the coop still expecting to see feathers and headless bodies against the door, but I didn't see either of those. All that was in the coop was an excited, and very VOCAL, Orpington perched on the edge of the nest box. Maybe she really was just announcing her work for the day was done? All that commotion for an egg? Just to be sure, I went into the coop and looked all around, even in and under the nest box. Well, no mink and no dead bodies. Same thing for the kennel area. As I was turning around, a motion and noise caught my attention. A HUGE white cat, with no tail I noticed, leapt from the hay and ran through the barn, under the horse gate and out into the pasture. It scared me half to death, and perhaps this was what had the chickens tail feathers all in a twist. Shrugging my shoulders, I returned to house concluding that the whole fiasco was just a false alarm.
  So a little later that evening, after sunset and before Dan got home, I was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone and discussing New Year's Eve plans. Carl and I were in the office. He was standing and looking out the window and I was spinning around in the office chair. On one rotation, I spun around and was facing the doorway when I looked down and there was a grey mouse staring at me with wide black eyes. My first impression was that it was a cat toy...after all, would a mouse really be sitting out in the open with a noisy little boy and chatty Chicken Lady? My brain quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together...I had seen my cat Cy sitting and starring in that exact same place before...the corner of the room where Dan keeps his golf bag, and this didn't look like the mouse toys Santa had left in Cy's stocking.
  Mid-sentence with my mother-in-law I exclaim, "There's a mouse in my house!" and I quickly drew up my legs, expecting the office chair to protect me from the motionless varmint.
  "There's a what?" She asked, confused, however her voice was laced with a trace of humor.
  "A mouse! It's here in my house! It's just sitting there looking at me! How did it get in here? It's in the office!"
  "Oh. We have mice too. Just set a trap for it."
  "But it's looking right at me!" I was finally able to get out the chair. "Come on, Carl. Hurry, hurry, hurry!" I grabbed Carl's arm and we raced into the kitchen, my mind racing as to what to do with it. I had no clue where the cat was...and if I found him there was no guarantee he would kill the thing. He'd probably bat it around enough to get the mouse moving again and it would get away. And there was NO WAY I was going to knowingly have a mouse running around in my house!
  By this time I was in slight hysterics, Carl was yelling because I had raised my voice, and my mother-in-law was laughing uncontrollably. I kept repeating, "I have to go there's a mouse in my house!" But I never did hang up the phone. Finally I got into the cupboard and found a large, heavy bowl. If I could trap until Dan got home, I'd let him dispose of it.
  It was a tense situation; me on the phone with a toddler walking up to this mouse, who just sat there. I was guessing the thing was hadn't been there earlier in the day. I was only about 5% sure of my plan...I was dealing with a mouse after all...surely it was going to dart away when I approached it.
  In the end, I came out the victor. I was able to walk up to it and place the bowl over top of it. I made sure Carl left the bowl alone until Dan got home and he picked it up with gloved hands and tossed the beast outside.  I did my part and caught the thing!
 The next evening, I was resting assured that all my cluckies were alive and well and that, as far as I know, we don't have a mouse in the house.

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