Hard Work

So over the weekend my mom took Jack with her after his Little Kickers soccer camp thing. (It’s not like real soccer, it’s like a bunch of 18-24 months olds running around together and there are also soccer balls). Nate and I then went home and started The Yard Project. He dug holes, I inserted, fertilized and watered plants (while wearing gloves). He shoveled 2 yards of mulch into the wheelbarrow countless times, I spread the mulch out with a rake. I would say I definitely got the good end of that deal.

All done

When all was said and done we planted 6 new plants, moved one plant, and had enough mulch leftover that we went ahead and mulched over the pine bark in our front beds. I put down a ton of weed barrier so hopefully that will help us out in the future. Over all I think it turned out pretty well.

I think I finally know the names of all of the plants in my back yard. I’m so proud of me! And we’re growing Lady Banks Roses up the side of that mini-pergola thing there so help block the view of the neighbors’ back yards. When that fills in I bet it will be amazing!

Also, I’d like to introduce you all to my new friend, Bird.

Hi, bird!

While I was shoveling the mulch around in the back, Bird was hopping around watching. He actually let me get pretty close to him. I was starting to worry that he was injured and we would have to make a trip to the bird sanctuary place, but turns out he was just eating the berries off my beautyberry bush and he wanted them badly enough not to mind that I was there raking mulch in the area at the time. I got that plant specifically because I wanted it to attract birds and I was excited to offer them a treat, but 3 years later this is the first time I’ve actually seen anyone eat off it!

So it took us umm.. around 4hours total I think? Not bad! It looks SO MUCH BETTER it was definitely worth it.

The Mouse Killer Among Us

So I think I’ve mentioned before, that we have a mouse problem in the back yard, and we are plagued by a mouse-zilla. We also have a really good variety of birds and I enjoy watching them play in the back yard, so as much as Nate might want to sometimes, I’m not going to be shutting down the bird-zone any time in the near future.

That being said we’ve been letting Layne chase the mice in the back yard. She’ll usually spot them, stare at them obsessively, and then bolt from the screened in porch as soon as the door is cracked wide enough for her to go. We thought it was all in fun as mice are CRAZY fast and Layne just is not as fast.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

So Saturday afternoon, much like every other time she goes out, Layne ran down the steps, and immediately bolted for the bird/mouse area. It was almost too fast to even track, one second she was here, the next she was down there bouncing around. And then she was bouncing around with a big brown thing in her mouth. I think Nate and I almost died (Jack was napping). We both started yelling for her to drop it and come back up and eventually she complied and at some point Nate said “what do we do?!” and I said “oh my god” at least 50 times and we just sort of stood there in shock with our dog staring at the brown lump waiting to see if it moved.

It did not.

So I went out to the garage and put some work gloves on and went out to investigate. I was like 99% sure it was dead, although there were (thank god) no puncture wounds so I’m guessing it was (a) internal injuries, (b) broken neck or (c) a mousey heart attack. I’m kind of leaning towards heart attack though, just because I would imagine it would be pretty shocking to suddenly find yourself in a dog’s mouth. So I carried the carcass off behind the fence to drop it off because I didn’t really know what else to do with it.

And now Layne fancies herself a mouse-catcher and watches them even more obsessively. Like her life suddenly has a purpose.

I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.

And we still let her out to chase them, and I’m still 99% sure that she won’t catch another one, but if she does I can’t say that I’ll be sorry to see it go.

Birds are Jerks

This morning at breakfast I was treated to a show in my back yard.

I saw 3-4 different cardinals popping in and out of my blueberry plants, no doubt checking to see if any were ripe.

Fortunately for me, none of them are ripe. Unfortunately for me some of them were ripening, and then shockingly they disappeared the next time I went to look at them. I would have thought the birdseed I put out for them, INCLUDING SHELLED SUNFLOWER SEEDS would be enough, but apparently it’s not. I always thought it must be the jerk mice eating my strawberries, but now I wonder. If the birds are getting the blueberries, maybe they’re getting the strawberries too. I can’t win!

(Although Layne has recently decided she is a bird/mouse hound and she stares at them with such intent. I can tell she’s just planning what she would do should she ever catch one. Lucky for them they’ve all been faster than her so far).

It seems like it would kill the aesthetic appeal for me to cage the fruit plants in, but as much as I love having the birds around, I don’t love them enough to be willing to forfeit any berries to them.

Nature is Kind of Bumming Me Out

(In handy list format, in no particular order)

  1. Nate found 2 (small) snakes in the yard while mowing a few weeks ago.
  2. A few days later I found one dead snake in the back yard. Just laying there, in the yard. Dead. Who  knows how it died. I mean I could think of that as sort of “one down one to go” but I doubt it leaves just “one to go” and I’m not too concerned since they’re so far non poisonous.
  3. The robin eggs from the nest in the front yard disappeared. I’m positive they did not hatch and fly away and live happily ever after which makes me really sad because the robins were seriously vigilant and almost NEVER away from the nest.
  4. When I took the nest down there were ants everywhere. I hate ants but we can’t seem to shake them. We take down one hill and they pop up somewhere else a few weeks later. DIE ANTS DIE!
  5. Someone needs to tell the spiders to GET OUT OF MY HOUSE. I’m serious. We had the bug people come out and spray which has helped, except I’ve now found a couple of big dead spiders in the house. I guess big dead spiders are better than big live spiders, but still not ideal.
  6. When I (finally) went to clean out my bluebird house (over a week after I found the nest was empty) there was a DEAD BLUEBIRD in it. I’m guessing one of the fledglings came back during the bad storms and then didn’t know how to go back out to find its parents? Whatever the reason, SAD! (And so not fun to have to clean out.)
  7. Someone is eating my strawberries and it’s not me or my husband or Jack. I caved and put out a mouse-kill-thingie. The exterminator guy wanted to put out sticky traps, but I don’t think sticky traps outside are really the best idea so he put this black plastic box/house thing out there. The same kind that Nate found a snake in a few weeks ago so hopefully it will only get rodenty things this time.
  8. I’ve tried really hard but that’s all the things I can come up with right now, but I think that’s enough.

OK, Mouse.. It is ON!

Someone has been eating my strawberries and I’m sorry to say that it’s not me! I planted some strawberries in a pot out back last month and was SO EXCITED to see the strawberries forming, getting red, and then all of a sudden they were gone.I have since seen other strawberries get THISCLOSE and then vanish, leaving just a nub.

So I’ve concluded that some furry little a-hole has been eating my strawberries and while I was previously willing to live and let live, I’m not so sure that’s the case any more. I intend to grow other things back there and while I’m not really sure it will all be to a mouse’s liking I’m really not sure that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

And a random aside: Nate saw the mouse when he was mowing the other day and said it was HUGE which I already knew, but it made me feel slightly better about not being able to positively ID it as a mouse at first.

We have some “bug people” that come out quarterly and I think next time they come out  I’ll have them set out some little mouse-be-gone system they’ve showed us that lets the mice go in, eat the poison and go back out to die somewhere out in the field (or with my luck, somewhere in my back yard) and I’ll try to ignore the mild to moderate guilt I’ll feel as I’m enjoying my fresh strawberries.

Dear Internet, WTF is this Rodenty Thing?

What is this animal?! by Geeky-Girl
What is this animal?!, a photo by Geeky-Girl on Flickr.

I’m serious, if anyone knows what it is please tell me! It’s way too big to be a mouse, but too cute to be a rat plus I don’t think the tail is long enough. (God I hope it’s not just a super cute rat).

When I first spotted it I thought it was a young bunny, that had exceptionally short ears, but then today when I was trying to take its picture and it turned to run I saw a TAIL and it was definitely more of a run than a hop out of the fence area.

I looked up groundhogs thinking maybe that was it, but the groundhogs have fuzzy tails and this guy’s tail was definitely not fuzzy, which makes my brain scream RAT! And I really hope it’s not. I guess I can always plug the hole in the fence so he can’t get in, but I doubt that will really stop a determined rodent in the long run.

It’s like the Secret of NIMH at my HOUSE!

The other night I was in bed, trying to fall asleep, and I heard a sound.

In the walls.

It sounded like a rodent, scurrying around in the walls.. but how could that be? I already removed the DEAD MOUSE. Did it leave a live friend?

And of course it did.

So we called our pest control people who usually just treat for bugs an they came out yesterday and set some sticky traps up where there had been evidence of mouse activity and we all crossed out fingers that they would find nothing.

Obviously that wasn’t the case or I wouldn’t have anything to write about right now. Instead, this morning when I went up to check the traps there was a mouse on one. It looked dead. I thought it was dead.  It was not dead.

So I called the pest control people at 7:30 and since they’re open Monday-Friday I wasn’t sure when I’d head back. So by 9am Nate was awake (he went to work at 5am, came home and went back to bed) and he could play with the baby while I freed the mouse. Thanks to Billy the Exterminator I knew that vegetable oil could free the mouse. I put on my gardening gloves, put the mouse (and trap) in a big storage bin and went outside. I dumped a ton of oil on it and really it worked out pretty well. I got him peeled off and rinsed him under a hose then put him in a tupperware container to sit while I figured out what to do next.

I knew I had to drop him off somewhere, I just wasn’t sure where. So we got into my car and I drove the mouse down to the elementary school a few miles away and out he went. For all I know he’s hawk food by now, but I dropped him off under a bush with lots of brown camouflaging coverage and I feel that I have met my moral obligation to that particular mouse.

Then of course at 9:30 the pest control company called and I was all like “WHERE WERE YOU PEOPLE 2 HOURS AGO WHEN I NEEEEDED YOU?!” Or not. I told them I handled the mouse (and spared them the heroic details) and they offered to bring new traps which was thoughtful, but we still have one up there so I think we’re good for now.

And of course since my sister mentioned that this was JUST LIKE the Secret of NIMH (I mean, I totally blame the people for mowing the field next door. Obviously the mice didn’t have enough time to move their house, so they had to come live in mine!) now I really want to watch that movie.

What Did the Pink Panther Say When He Stepped on an Ant?

Dead ant, dead ant, deadant deadant deadant deadant deadanntt!

Or something like that..

Anyways I was going to write a post about the evil ant infestation in my potted garden but I got distracted by the whole DEAD MOUSE thing.

By the way, since you guys seemed so shocked about my tossing the Roomba, if anyone wants it, it’s still in my trash can (DEAD MOUSE and all)! Just let me know and you’re welcome to come over and scrape the (possibly mangled) VERY DEAD MOUSE off the bottom.. you know.. if you’re interested!

And also, if anyone knows how to get DEAD MOUSE smell out of carpet, please to let me know! I haven’t had time to Google it really, but so far the smell is still there. Definitely not as bad, but definitely not gone.

Anyways, on to the ant problem.

So on Sunday (I think?) I was getting ready to water my food-plants on the patio when Nate noticed a line of ants marching across. So we followed them and I moved some pots around and basically there were ants EVERYWHERE! All over my (dead) tomato plants, completely infested one of my strawberry plants, and some-what living in the bottoms of my okras. It was so not OK.

So after dousing all of them with bug killer (deadant!) I’ve declared this year’s garden closed for the season and as soon as it stops raining I’m going to empty and scrub all of my pots for the season and put them away. Then I’m going to start planning for next year and how to make my garden less appealing to ants.

And also to black widow spiders, because nestled between 3 pots I found a web with a black widow on it. Of course by then Nate had gone inside so I sprayed the ever loving hell out of it with the bug killer and pounded on the siding to try to get him to come outside so I could ask for me boots. I just didn’t feel good about squashing it in flip flops. Call me crazy.

Anyways, that’s my (dead)ant story.  Sort of pales in comparison to the DEAD MOUSE but I figured maybe someone would have a good suggestion for next year’s container garden!

It Smells Like Something Died Up Here

Those words were spoken by my husband last night, when he went upstairs to feed the pets.

So I was curious. I carried Jack upstairs so I could smell it too. But I thought it just smelled sort of musty and warm upstairs like we needed to crack a window and get some air moving or something. And then he opened the door to the pet room (yes, we have a “pet room”), took a whiff, and declared it to be coming from in there. So I rolled my eyes thinking he was being overly dramatic and probably a cat pooped somewhere it shouldn’t have or something since they had just spent the last week in there while we were on vacation. I handed him the baby and I went in to find the kitty accident.

And Holy Crap but it smelled like something died in there. Big time.

So I set off looking for the source of the smell. I checked the actual litterbox area, around the dog crates, the cat beds, their scratching posts (yes, posts, plural, my pets are spoiled, what are you trying to say?!), and under the sewing table because that’s where Tili spends a lot of her time (for who knows what reason) and I found nothing that I believed to be the source of the smell.

Next I checked the closet where we keep the pet food and toys and other miscellaneous pet related stuff (and you’d probably be surprised at how much we have.. or maybe you wouldn’t). And I found nothing.

That left the only thing in the room I hadn’t examined to be the roomba. The roomba that hasn’t run in… oh… I don’t even know how long. It’s been a while. So I crouched down, picked it up, and HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, there was a DEAD MOUSE stuck to the bottom! (!!!!!!)

So I did what any sensible person would do. I shrieked, dropped the roomba, and ran out of the room to regain my senses.

Nate called up to ask if I was OK, and of course I was. Just startled. I would also like to point out that at no time after I explained about the DEAD MOUSE did he offer to take care of the situation, which means one of two things. Either I’ve done a great job of convincing him that I’m not a squeamish wuss and I can totally handle dead things, no problem (which, sometimes I can), OR he thought it was just as gross as I did and was hoping that I would just take care of it on my own so that he wouldn’t have to.

And of course at no time after finding the DEAD MOUSE did I even consider asking him to take care of it, because I am not a squeamish wuss who cannot handle dead things. Mostly.

So after a short chat we decided we can, in fact, live with one fewer roombas in the house so back up I went with my rubber cleaning gloves, some spot shot, febreeze, my bissel “little green” cleaner, and a garbage bag.

I put the roomba straight into the garbage bag. I considered looking again, just to verify, but I figured I could live with the assumption that the mouse was (a) still dead and (b) still stuck to the bottom. I was extra relieved when I picked it up and there was not a dead mouse laying on the ground because after dropping the roomba I had a terrible suspicion that the force may have been great enough to dislodge the mouse. I was glad to be wrong.

After taking the trash out I cleaned the area with spot shot, then I cleaned it with my bissell cleaner and then I febreezed the entire room for good measure.

I have to say it smells better in there this morning, but still not great. I’m not entirely sure how to get the smell out of that room without burning it down and starting over, but I guess we’ll do the best we can!

In the mean time we’re going to clean the crap out of that room and make sure that no amount of pet food remains on the ground, and I’m also going to give my cats a stern talking to, because finding a DEAD MOUSE under the roomba AFTER it had started to smell is really not what I expect from cats. Couldn’t they have at least warned me!? Shown a little extra interest in the roomba or something?! But no. Apparently not.

Birdie Backfire

So remember when I had bluebirds? And I literally spent allllll day that I was home watching them to make sure nothing got them because they’re so cute and tiny and it was all very exciting.

Then I cleaned out their nestbox, the parents re-nested and I thought I had a new round of cute coming my way. So I went out to the bird store (seriously, it’s a store with bird stuff, Wild Birds Unlimited) and picked up some sunflower chips (because I’m too squeamish to buy mealworms) and put them out at home!

And now 2.5 months later as I was celebrating the number of new birds those chips have attracted (I have cardinals coming out my ears, in addition to miscellaneous brown birds that all look the same to me except they come in different sizes!) I realized that I never saw any new babies and I haven’t seen the adult bluebirds lately either. So I checked the nest box and there’s one unhatched egg in it. It makes me sad. I don’t know if the influx of new birds scared them away or what but I’m a little bummed. Fortunately I have a ton of new birds(brown thrashers and what may be a house wren except it looks more black than brown (which really may just mean I have a bug problem!)) to help make it up to me!