On other animal harvests

P1010565Bug-eyed deer mouse (top) and sneaky little house mouse (bottom)

One of the seasonal routines that gets fired up here in the fall is the Rodent Harvest.

Yes, admittedly, this is a gross topic, but…one we’re all probably familiar with:  mice do outnumber us, greatly, and once it becomes cold, they like to come inside, too.  The greenhouses are especially plagued, and overnight I will notice that one of the 6 precious Delicata squash, while curing, has been entirely EATEN, blossom to stem, by obviously more than one gnawing creature.  GRR.  War!

We (my daughter and I) bait regular old mousetraps with a solitary sunflower seed (in the shell).  It’s highly effective because the mice really like sunflower seeds, and try very hard to get the seed out of the trap with a satisfyingly predictable result.

Now, mice like squash but usually leave my lettuces alone.  They like to chew the exposed tops of my carrots, and will climb a tomato plant for the fruit.  The voles, my lettuce-eating nemeses, are fairly resistant to sunflower seed bait.  They are, however, fairly stupid, so if I put mousetraps, unbaited, around the inside of the lettuce beds, they’ll run across them and inadvertently get trapped.

All this, incidentally, makes working around the greenhouses a fairly fraught affair…SNAP!

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15 responses to “On other animal harvests

  1. We too are on the harvest.

  2. I really like the sunflower seed idea and will try that this winter. The mice like to get into the chicken house after dark during the cold months.

    After years of battling voles all summer and winter we finally/inadvertently solved that issue by surrounding the gardens with chickens. The voles high tailed it out of there and have not been back since… and we had a lot of them.

    So with the mice, is it soup or stew?

  3. Love the mouse butt picture!

  4. *Grin*

    We had some mice get into our popcorn which was drying down outside. Little $%&*#s!

    Our 14-year-old cat, who has kidney failure, cancer, and hyperthyroidism, caught us a mouse over the weekend that had come down from our attic. No one’s broken the news to her yet about her multiple diagnoses. What she doesn’t know is going to kill her, but she’s spry and a danger to mice for now!

    Thanks for the tip about baiting with sunflower seed. I’ll remember that.

  5. how did you take the phot???

  6. I will empty traps but I’m always afraid I’ll smash my finger, so Eric gets to set the traps. We’ve always used peanut butter. Hopefully the fact that we feed three (!) indoor cats mean that we won’t need as many traps this year.

    Then there was the year of roof rats. Ugh.

  7. We’ve been getting in on the harvest here as well. Since we did a major repair on the house I haven’t noticed any inside (yet) in their usual spots. Plus we have 2 cats which should help. But outside in the shop, garage and barn they’re thick. Last night even our 100 lb dog got into the fun and dove into grass by the woodpile beside the barn and came out with a mouse. I didn’t stop to identify the species- I was just glad he didn’t try to eat it!

  8. Yes, we were needlessly blaming rats for all the half-eaten tomatoes until I saw the mouse climbing around inside the tomato cages. The mice cause much more damage than the rats, believe it or not.

  9. Rodents foolish enough to move into my home get moved to the park… if they escape the grasp of my giant, ever vigilant mouse guard. Luckily, I feed him enough that he leaves me the carcasses for disposal and doesn’t eat them. That simply does not sound healthy.

  10. Esperanza, well, I am quite glad I didn’t have YOUR particular brand of rodent to deal with! Yipes.

    Hi Phelan! Ack, the annual gross-out fest, eh? Good luck with your harvest too.

    Mike, you’re definitely on to something there. They ALSO like having places to hide; I found out if I give them no cover outside the perimeter of the greenhouses then they’re not tempted to go in there. Problem is, there’s gardens outside the greenhouses too. OH! And deep-fried, use their tails like sticks.

    Thanks Emily. Family show, had to keep it tame…

    WF, you crack me up. They were in the traps.

    Stef, well, you have a big family so that extends to cats too? But yeah the peanut butter trick works too, just that sometimes they learn to lick it off gently. No such luck with the seed. And–ugh–you mentioned rats too. Okay, maybe I am NOT moving to CA any time soon. Or at least the urban portions of the Bay area.

    Judy, our dog is a FABULOUS mouser. I bring her into the garden when I turn the compost piles as the voles usually come pouring out of there and she thinks it is fun to catch them. Yeah, ick, our dog isn’t into eating them either, but, well, bigger rodents like squirrels and rabbits though are fair game. Here’s hoping there are none in the house!

    Ed, I believe it, they’ve got that numbers thing going on. Some mice and vole females can have 6 litters a year (!!!). So sometimes I just blame damage on field and house mice as opposed to birds or even bugs, they can be pestilential.

    CC, snap!

    Pamela, our outdoor cat (who has since moved indoors, the lucky thing) does love to eat her mice. I worry about parasites so now both cats are on heavy-duty deworming regimens, poor things. Ah well, nature’s way.

  11. Do you feed them to your chickens?

    I hear they sometimes start hunting, if they learn a particular species is tasty.

    • Not the dead ones, Joel, but if we find some alive then yeah, we throw them to the birds. The chickens seem to hunt anything smaller than them that moves when they’re out on happy hour anyway…

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