It all started one morning this fall. I was in the basement putting my barn clothes on, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. I turned to look and spied a mouse running across the top of our block foundation.
I muttered several bad words, but I didn't scream, which I consider an accomplishment. I have vivid memories from early childhood of watching my mother hop up onto a kitchen chair and scream every time a mouse scampered across the floor of our old farmhouse. When I came back to the house later, I wrote mouse traps on my to-do list.
Well, most things on my to-do list don't get done until there's an imminent deadline. Seeing a mouse in the house should have been all the deadline I needed, but all I managed to accomplish was bringing the mouse traps up from the basement. Then they sat in the kitchen, waiting to be baited and set and brought back to the basement.
Every time I looked at the traps, I rationalized putting that two-minute project off by telling myself it was just one mouse - and it was in the basement. In the six-and-a-half years we've lived in this house, this was the first mouse or sign of a mouse we had seen. Granted, for the first several years we had a house cat.
Glen, of course, was much more realistic about the situation.
"Where there's one mouse, there's more," he said.
The deadline for finally setting the traps came a couple weeks later, when I saw a mouse squeeze out of a hole in our cabinet by the dishwasher and scurry to the entryway. Once again, it was early morning and I didn't scream. But I did cuss and immediately set the traps.
That night, while I sat in the rocking chair in our living room with Daphne, I heard a terrible sound: the trap by the refrigerator sprung and then rattled around on the floor and then it was quiet again. I shuddered.
After I put Daphne to bed, I timidly checked the trap. It was sprung, but there was no mouse. I told Glen about the mouse trap failure and he quickly informed me that I needed better traps: "Those bunny-hugger traps don't spring hard enough to catch a mouse."
So, Glen brought a couple of his traps in from the barn. We set one by my bunny-hugger trap next to the refrigerator and baited it with a raisin, which Glen claimed was the best mouse trap bait.
Sure enough, the next morning, there was a mouse in the trap. I delivered it to the barn cats who happily gobbled it up. Why should I have mice in my house when we have a dozen capable, mouse-loving cats on the farm?
A couple days later we caught another mouse in the trap.
And then, one morning after I got home from bringing the kids to school, I was putting groceries away and I noticed two mice caught in the traps next to the refrigerator - one in my bunny-hugger trap and one in Glen's trap. Two mice. I jumped. I screamed. It was a little scream, but it was a scream.
Why on earth would dead mice in a trap make me scream, when a live mouse running across the floor didn't? And why should a person who works with 1,500-pound animals on a daily basis be scared of an animal that weighs only 15 grams?
Thankfully, those were the last two mice we caught in the traps.
I wasn't going to write about our mice, because I was embarrassed to have mice in our house. Even after Glen reminded me that there are two types of people in the world: "The ones who have mice in their houses and the ones who won't admit it."
But then we had another mouse encounter last week.
Glen and I were eating breakfast before going out to the barn. Daphne was up, too, standing in the pack-n-play in the kitchen. I loaded the dishwasher while I sipped my smoothie. Shortly after I started the dishwasher, Glen whisper-yelled, "There's a mouse."
Before I could respond, he had sprung from his chair at the table. "There, it came out from by the dishwasher. It just ran under the pack-n-play. It's headed for the entryway," he called out, like a play-by-play sports announcer.
In a flash, Glen was standing by the doorway between the kitchen and the entryway. And, instead of scurrying into the entryway, the mouse was cowering in the corner behind the broom.
"Quick. Over there." Glen said, directing me toward the refrigerator.
What happened next, happened so fast, I'm still not sure how it happened.
Glen grabbed a shoe box that was sitting in the kitchen with one hand. With the other hand he moved the broom. The mouse took off. Glen swung with the box. And missed. The mouse scampered toward me with Glen following. I didn't have anything in my hands to swing at the mouse, so when it got close enough, I stomped. I missed. So I stomped again and nailed the varmint. (I was wearing my house sandals.)
The instant I removed my foot from atop the mouse, I started screaming. Not just a little scream. This was a blood-curdling, spine-tingling, horror movie scream. And I started hopping around the kitchen, doing what is known in my family as the heebie-jeebies dance. And poor Daphne didn't know what was going on, so she started crying.
Glen rushed over to lift my arm in the air, like a triumphant boxer after a winning match. "Good job. Good job." he cheered.
That, my friends, is the first living thing bigger than a spider that I have ever willfully killed.
Except I didn't kill it. I only stunned it. As Glen was congratulating me, the mouse started wiggling around on the floor.
I told Glen to grab a container to put the mouse in so we could bring it out to the cats. Instead, being the good hunter he is, Glen grabbed one of my slotted spoons out of the utensils drawer and whopped the mouse on the head, which splattered mouse blood upon the floor.
The mouse went out to the barn. And it took me just about all of milking to recover from the mouse stomping. After which, I decided that this mouse encounter was a perfect illustration of the differences between men and women.
I would have been perfectly fine letting that mouse run to the entryway. It never would have occurred to me to attack the mouse.
But, Glen's instincts are different than mine. And those instincts left us with one less mouse in our house.