The great thing about having your own land with barns is that you have a lot of flexibility – at least in terms of what you can do and what you can store. This year we were able to secure a large number of bags of kindling and general firewood from off-cuts and general wood waste. So up I trundle with a landy full of bags of wood and logs and I safely stored them in the driest part of the barn for safe keeping. I brought back the last two bags a couple of weeks ago now and busily set about using the wood in the fire – which has been an especially good boost over this cold winter. Anyway, most of the way through the second bag I noticed the dogs going bonkers at the bag. The usual alarm bells went off in my head thinking it was rats or similar (something the dogs especially love to chase when we walk the field boundaries), so I dropped the bag and let the dogs loose. After a few minutes of the dogs sniffing like a loss-less vacuum cleaner should they came up with nothing apart from a lot of old leaves, a few seeds and what turns out to be a very large mouse nest.
This normally wouldn't be a problem, but the bags were stored in my outbuilding and there were no sign of the mice. So I did perhaps not the most humane thing and left the dogs to stuff around the whole of the outbuilding looking for other signs of life, but they were not interested in anything but their large bag of dog food (no surprises there). So thinking that this was an old nest I cleared everything up and didn't think any more about it.
In hindsight this may have not been the best tactic. Last week whilst moving the filing cabinet I noticed a trail of little bits of paper underneath the filing cabinet. It's not one we use often and generally stores our serious 'to keep but no need to look at' type documentation. So with a slight opening of the top draw of the cabinet it was clear that all was not well with my files. Only a super enthusiastic shredder would have done a better job on them. They were just piles of paper dust. But alas no sign of mice.
With my finest Shelock Holmes hat, pipe and super large magnifying glass I followed the shredded paper trail to find my first nest. I say my first as that day I found three others the last of which the dogs firmly pointed out were in my tool box. It's a plastic thing, industrial enough to stand on and no obvious holes in them (I have a few of them). Anyway, the dogs were going mad telling me that the tool box was 'hot' – actually one dog (the boy dog) was insistent that I should look at the big bag of dog food – daft thing.
With tool box in hand I took it outside and gave it a thorough examination. In one corner there was a small hole with neatly nibbled edges. Out of that hole was a small nose and whiskers. I'm not sure who was more shocked: me the mouse or the dog. Anyway the mouse got a away and the daft dog just sat there looking at me as though it was my fault. The inside of the tool box was a mess – smelly old mouse nest with bits of paper, bag and anything else the mouse could gnaw away at in there.
Feeling slightly more confident I went back in the outbuilding with the dogs and let them loose again. No surprises that the boy dog went straight for the big bad of dog food again. I know he's a little (well ok a lot) motivated by food, but this was a little unusual for him so I went over to the bag to look it over. It's in a clear plastic bag so I could see through into the brown contents. Sure enough in one corner was a little hole and yet another mouse nest. I shouldn't have chastised the poor dog so much but to be fair he did find a nest so I gave him a treat.
After a good sweep out and a clean of every cupboard, work surface and nest area I felt quite confident that they were now all gone. At least I felt confident until yesterday when I opened one of my tool cupboards to find a ruddy huge nest on the top shelf. How the bleeding heck the things managed to get into a closed cupboard I've no idea, but get in there they did. Electrical wire, some tools, gloves and anything non metal has had a bite or two. So another round of cleaning has begun and tomorrow I'm off to find some mouse traps. Humane ones if I can find them, if not it back to the basics and off with their nibbly little heads.