Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Residents

Last year, I don't remember when, Hubby built us a huge compost bin. My dear brother made his wife a composter that has a turner built in. Ours is not so fancy. It is made of cheap wood. It is rectangular with a hinged lid and you must turn the compost yourself. I drew up the design and Hubby built it. It is perfect for our family and I am quite enamored with it!

In late January, I was in the backyard watering the compost. In Arizona, watering your compost helps it to break down better. As the water began to soak in, I started seeing movement. Now, this is a typical phenomenon when I water. You see, crickets and beetles love to live in my compost pile. And lizards love to hang out on the edges to catch the crickets and beetles as their dinner. So usually when I start watering, the bugs and the lizards start hightailing it out of the bin.

This time the creatures moving around were field mice. I quickly dropped the hose, ran into the house, and started yelling directions. Hubby and the kids started grabbing tupperware and ran outside. We turned the hose back on and started flushing out the mice. I watered the kids corralled and Hubby caught the mice. We ended up catching SEVEN field mice!

Flushing out the mice while Hubby catches them.

The girls had friends over. After this experience, their friends
declared our house the funnest place they had ever been. Haha!

We emptied the mice into the big container. There are six mice in the big container!
I dumped the seventh one in after snapping this picture.

Well, I thought seven mice, that is quite the family. I turned off the hose and commended the kids on their hard work and non-squeamishness. (I truly appreciate when people don't freak out about bugs, mice, or other creatures.) However, Hubby was not done. He went to the garage and came back with the pitchfork. We use the pitchfork to turn the compost. Hubby or I will do this once or twice a month, depending on how much we've added to the pile.

Hubby thought that there might be more mice hiding on the bottom. He was correct! As he started turning the compost over, more mice started darting out. We ended up catching SIX more field mice! It was kind of funny because those mice at the bottom were pretty smart. They tried to hide on the outer sides of the compost bin, covered by the hibiscus flowers. I hosed and hosed them to get them to come out then Hubby caught them. It was fantastic!

The kids thought we should keep all thirteen of the mice. They and their friends started talking about how wonderful it would be to have the mice as pets and how they could have babies so then we would have even more field mice. 

Dear children, YEAH RIGHT!!!

Of course, being a Mom who is trying to teach her children respectful speech, I respectfully explained the reasons we could not keep the field mice. 

Hubby had some ideas for disposing of the mice... The kids were a bit upset about to hear his ideas. Miss S practically flipped out. It was kind of funny hearing this fifteen year old girl, who was only a few minutes earlier saying how gross the mice were, now acting as though we would be terrible murderers if we disposed of the mice. Goofy kid!

Anyhoo, I told the kids that I would take them to a pet store so that people who wanted field mice as pets (*wink, wink*) could buy them. Out of earshot of all the kids, I called around until I found a pet shop that was willing to take them as "pets". 

Rose wanted to come with me. Here we are about to get in the car. We left the last six mice in the tupperwares because the field mice in the large container were jumping like crazy to get out. And let me tell you, Field Mice Jump High!

A gal at the pet store carefully dropped each mouse into a glass container. She ended up losing one of them. The mouse was getting pretty aggressive and tried to bite her. It was one of the larger mice. She told me that she has been bitten by the white pet mice plenty of times, but she knows where those mice are from and that they have no disease. She didn't want to take a chance and get bit by a field mouse that was carrying who knows what.

I don't blame her.

She told me not to worry because they leave out poison so the mouse wouldn't last long on the run.

Rose didn't hear that part. I had sent her off to look at the kittens and snakes.

Twelve mice in their temporary home.

A close-up of the field mice. See the mouse whose coat is darker? It's darker because it is WET! That was one of the mice that we had to drench in order to catch.

I'm not sure how many of the field mice are still in the pet shop. I know for sure that the owner took three home that evening. She had a pet snake that was looking for some new playmates...  

Ssssshhhh! Don't tell me kids. ;)