April 02, 2010

a redneck petting zoo

I'm not much of a critter person. Especially when it comes to pets. Don't get me wrong . . . I love animals, I just don't WANT animals. My daughter's recent acquisition of two, yes two pound puppies who yap and snag your clothing with their little doggie claws and chew on your shoes and require constant attention and use your carpet as their own personal diaper (not to mention various other forms of disgusting canine behaviors) further validates my "no animals in the house" philosophy. Well, maybe not "NO" animals in the house . . . more like no MAMMALS in the house, and that includes some small children I've known. I have, however, welcomed hermit crabs and turtles and such into the family with little fanfare, and frankly, anything that's noiseless and stinkless and messless doesn't ruffle my feathers too much.

The worst offenders are the uninvited critters.

One day not long after we had moved into our current house, something on the kitchen counter caught my eye. Where Kevin's peanut butter sandwich remains still graced his lunch plate was Mickey's Kentucky cousin. Before I could sprint the 18 feet from the den to the dishwasher (and when I say "sprint" I really mean "approach slowly with much trepidation"), the little rodent darted behind the fridge and disappeared. Freaked me out. Clean houses are not supposed to have varmints. I made every effort to dissuade them from visiting my home and to ensure their demise should they return.

A couple of years later my mother-in-law was visiting. We were in the den and I had my back to the kitchen. She, however, did not. A few minutes into our conversation her demeanor changed. Her expression of horror conveyed to me the unthinkable: a little mouse. And not just ANY mouse, but one with impeccable timing. I mean, my mother-in-law, for crying out loud. The one person in the world you most want to be "clean" for!

On another occasion we noticed a smell. Just a slight rancid odor. We took out the trash, did some laundry, poured a box of baking soda down the drain, and called it good. A day or two later the odor became more of a stench that emanated from, surprise, the kitchen. I took the smell as a hint I might need to defunkify my refrigerator. I took everything out, threw away anything rotten, expired, black, or unidentifyable, along with anything that could be considered a tribute to Alexander Fleming, and scrubbed the fridge with vinegar-water. It fairly glowed. The next day I walked in the front door, took one whiff, and turned around and walked right back out. "I cannot live in there until whatever reeks, reeketh no more!" A whole house search brought us right back to the fridge. Upon complete inspection, we discovered a very VERY dead mouse which had met its demise in the fan some days earlier. The memory of that pungent smell nauseates me to this day.

Still, on occasion, we hear one rustling (it's an unmistakable sound), or catch a glimpse of one scurrying across the floor. Traps are baited with peanut-butter-dipped-cat-food, and within the hour we almost always humanely execute the unwanted intruder.

One day, in my church office, where no mouse has ever been detected, I heard the rustling. Reigh Anne was standing in the doorway talking and she heard it too. The sound kept interrupting our conversation, drawing our attention away from each other and over to the silk ficus tree in the north corner of the room. It ceased and we forgot about it. A couple of hours later I heard it again. And again. I decided the best way to deal with this critter would be to quickly carry the entire tree out the front door, lift the tree out of the basket, and hope the mouse goes in the direction opposite my toes. So I approached the tree and it rustled again . . . but not from the base.
The rustling came from the leaves at the top . . . not a mouse-friendly location. I peered in. I reached out my hand to grab the trunk and a 6-lined racerunner lizard flew across my hand, down the trunk, between my feet, and vanished in the hallway. Okay, that was kinda cool, actually.

The last of the offending critters have been skunks. Plural. Living under the house this winter, along with a stray cat that decided to use our crawl space as an obstetrics ward. E
very week or so, Pepe LePew and Fluffy would have an altercation that resulted in my house getting "skunked". Finally, after many weeks, and many skunkings, Greg set a live animal trap. The question is: "How does one rid oneself of live skunk without getting oneself skunked in the process?" The answer is: Tie a really, really long rope to the trap. Over the course of several days, we caught 2 skunks and a few cats. . .one of them being Mandy-kitty, our own little outside/barn cat.

There have also been squirrels in the attic and possums under the car and even a snake or two in the garage (which, much to the dismay of some, are always "catch and release", because, after all, Mr. Reptile helps keep Mr. Mouse out of my house.)

While I will always be a city girl at heart, country living does have its perks. . .but being a veritable petting zoo is not one of them.


NinjaPrincess said...

One of my favorite lines from "Everybody Loves Raymond" was Deborah saying, "The last thing we need around here is one more thing that eats and poops!"

~Stephanie said...