Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Of Mice and Dogs

The thing I find relaxing about the holiday cabin is the complete absence of cats. I can step outside onto the decking and inhale the clear forest air and not get a whiff of intruding felines. 
The downside is mice. Minus the mouse's primary predator they flourish.


A family of mice decided to nest beneath our cabin. I was the only one aware of them at first, scrabbling away beneath the utility room where I sleep. It sounded like they were going to gnaw their way through the floorboards into my bed. I cried but no one listened. When the mistress did eventually investigate she only uncovered the rain ingress in the boiler cupboard and mistakenly thought that was why I was crying. She scolded me for being such a puppy. With a sigh, I gave up and prepared for the worst. I won't describe the nightmares I had that night.


The mice had been disinterred from their home by the heavy machinery widening the road and removing the fallen trees from the forest behind  the cabins. With autumn in full swing and dry oak leaves falling like cinders, they were forced to find a fresh nest in a safe environment to bring up their babies. Below the cabin, behind the wooden cladding of the base, offered protection from aerial predators like the buzzards and owls that screeched and hooted in the night. In time they would bite their way upwards into the kitchen and that would see them through the winter months. It seemed like a perfect plan to daddy mouse. 


It would have worked too if one of his sons hadn't been overenthusiastic in using central heating pipe insulation as nesting material. Chewing too deeply he gnawed a hole in the plastic pipe beneath, puncturing it, allowing the hot fluid to escape. The boiler failed as the pressure dropped to zero. The master and mistress wouldn't even have been aware of their presence if it hadn't happened. On the recommendation of the site manager, sonic deterrents were installed and efforts taken to dissuade their continued presence. Eviction notices served, the mice moved on again. 


Daddy mouse, deafened by the ultra high pitched siren, wondered if his luck would ever change. Why did his schemes always fail? He blamed that Rabbie Burns for cursing the whole of mouse-kind.  Maybe it was time to leave the country and move to the city. Get the kids into a good school. Cash-strapped councils might take longer to respond. "But what about the cats", asked mummy mouse.  "Don't worry, love. Remember, Jerry always gets the better of Tom. Why should I be any different?" Mummy mouse didn't reply. She could always find another new mate. 


I wonder if the master will blame the mice for all the missing crisps and chocolate during his recent stay.