Mice, Rats, Shrews and Voles


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Most of us want to live in or near greenery. I lived near rivers and lakes for nearly 19 years. Now the water runs down the middle of a V shaped property neighbored by forests.

Perhaps it isn’t chance that water is such a central theme in my life.

With water and green space come the ruralish woes of rodents and insects. An unsavory topic, I know.

My policy is live and let live—until the human domain I call mine is crossed. Granted, I do everything in my power to keep them from crossing the barrier invisible to them. Plug holes; remove and secure potential food sources; reduce availability of water; seal access to all buildings when possible.

A rodent can fit through any hole approximately the size of its skull. They’re designed for rapid expansion; they have to be since they’re a major food source for raptors, reptiles and even mammals. Sometimes each other. [I’ll leave out the controversy of human use for other purposes. I’m talking nature here.]

Avoid those glue traps. There isn’t a way to pry an exhausted rodent from the glue without damaging the rodent and risking disease yourself. I tried. I followed the directions to the letter. And if you set the vermin out still attached to the glue trap you’re sentencing them to either a long, slow death or being easy prey. Hope for the latter. Glue traps can also stick to other living beings—larger furry or feathered ones.

Live traps are a nice idea. Little success here as rodents tend to avoid the large contraptions and even the smaller ones. Removing them to a more remote location is ideal if you manage to capture one. Oh. And check your live traps daily, please. There isn’t much use in using them only to find desiccated, moldy remains a month later. Nothing humane in that.

Please do not use poison. It has far-reaching consequences to the entire food chain, possibly including your favorite canines and felines. Poisoned rodents usually live long enough to escape before they are consumed live or dead.

The choice left is rather blunt but quick: A trap that instantly crushes the spine at the base of the skull. Most people find this idea cruel. As you can see from the above, perhaps not.

There are new traps out. [Yes, they have created a better mouse trap! Ha.] They aren’t so frightening to arm and not so disgusting to empty as the traditional wood-and-metal snap trap. Still, please check often. If checked daily, the fresh kill might fuel a scavenger and complete the food chain in a more natural way. By no means the only brand; however, I find these last longest and are as efficient as the original mouse trap. These have a clamping action to allow removal of the dead mouse without actually touching it, eliminating the eww factor and leaving the morsel free of human scent. Keep a little painter’s brush to clear any fur that might cling to the trap.

Baiting. Try something that requires force. Cheese isn’t it because it dries out and is light; a mouse caught in a trap using light bait usually gets part way backed out of the trap before the kill. Not so efficient. I like to use gumdrops. Add a little water to the bottom of the candy and it sticks right to the bait cup. I rarely have to rebait a trap because the sugar is a constant attractant and the trap a consistent killer.

One last note: Please place the traps carefully as they also attract small birds who are caught but not killed immediately or sometimes not killed at all. That was a very sad lesson since the trap was under a porch, away from the dogs and, I thought, away from other curious creatures.
©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

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Cemeteries are for the Living

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 5 p.m.

I had volunteered last week to take a photo of a grave at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The site presents just as its name suggests. Horses have encroached to the cemetery fence, but the view to the Columbia River is outstanding. Firs pace off the property edge, though not densely. The view of the valley opposite—gorgeous in the late autumn.

Two white benches under separate holly trees, berries dropped in the recent wind storm.

Chilled dusk in the warming car. Worth another visit.

©2012–2014 Sandra R. Davidson

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Never Holding Up Traffic At the Lewis & Clark Bridge

“Never!”

She covered herself against the slough of her mother’s promises, all in the negative.

Home, never was.

Oh, oh. His muddy lies tilling a trench on the uphill. Then, “Never will hold that baby.”

Storm got thicker. Never did.

Poverty and hopelessness were taking turns at any gutter’s corner with fresh cardboard and permanent black ink. Room? Never.

“A hole was a hole was hole was a ho’.” They shared their laughter and kept their wallets closed. Whole? Never.

Her mother’s words were all she bore. What never was no more.

“Storming and the night’s going to be cold.”
“Supposed to be freezing rain by the time we get ho—there, there. A parking spot up—homeless, what they’re like walking dead. Tell her to get out the way.”

Not going to be dry today. River’s side won’t let her wash today.

‘Another waste shifting borders.’ Til she stepped into release.

Never felt before she hit the water. Never felt no more.

Not even at the wide open river into an emptying sea.

Never.

Hearts and Histories

I suppose this is leading to a toughening of my soul.

The faces and places through which I have been sifting aren’t mine. I’ve perceived a least portion of the meaning below the lines on his face and to the tilt of her chin. Obituaries are the finial polish to our public image, and it damn well better shine or leave it to one line: born; died.

My maternal great grandmother typed Continue reading

No Peace

I find no peace today.

I would follow my feet through the wet grasses and walk in wind among the stone remains of the dead; there is no peace there either. They cry from abandonment. They speak of the hauntings of war. Some are buried far from home and family, caught unaware by death. A mother embraces her child no longer though they are side by side in death on the same day and buried in the same ground.

I find cemeteries poignant. Like the streams that feed the rivers to the ocean of humanity and inhumanity, I follow the steadfast families anchored in generations and those filled with wanderlust in single or in company. Likely my blood is from among the ones beneath my feet who travel no more.

No peace today.

©2012 Sandra Davidson

Time Outs

My time is running out «. Fantastic post from a new-to-me writer. She touches on a topic that drives me, has driven me my whole life.

Her post elicited my (edited) response below.

I have been too aware of time’s passage since about the age of three, before the hands on the clock meant anything. I tried to wear a watch and gave it up before junior high school. With the addition of microwaves in homes, I grew impatient with myself for watching the seconds count down. My home has no clocks; it needs none. There are time keepers on my computer, cell phone, microwave, oven. My husband has the alarm clock for moments when it is necessary.

It is an urgency. For me it is a questioning of myself. Am I giving more than I’m taking, in all sense of the word—resources, ideas, perspectives, understanding, love, compassion.

Writing is frightening. It should be. With everything we write, we open ourselves to a little more transparency. I’m terrified of being known in this way but I cannot stop the flow. I have only the choice of whether my words appear or hide away someplace. More are hidden than revealed, I confess.
©2012 Sandra Davidson

No Choice

A day much like today:

Most days the intemperate blow and gust of air through the hundred-foot firs becomes me standing by the river’s edge of my imagination, listening to the changing depth and breadth, the dredge of watery momentum through a stone-littered river bottom.

Someplace in the River Wind lives a great fish, tail rattling in the wind chimes. Without form it drags and tugs at the corners of the house and mouths the windows.

Rare days, I am beside an ocean in storm, a heavy, irregular tide sucking at my ears and spitting them out in false feeding, threatening to bow me, demanding I submit to its waves.

This moment, will I step out onto time-worn rock, into the richness built upon loamy layers of the recent pasts? Or will it be shifting sands, once parched now drenched by eternal tide?

It isn’t a choice; I join the elements in birth, death and resurrection.

©2010 by Sandra Davidson