Friday, April 6, 2018

Of Mice And Men

When Robert Burns upset a nest of field mice while ploughing down in deepest Ayrshire, he felt a little guilty. He sat for a while and pondered, then went home and wrote the poem at the end of this blog; To A Mouse.  It's a tribute to both man and beastie,  advocating tolerance to all creatures.

The mouse question is an interesting one. When mentioning the 'mouse issue' most people, even nice normal people  turn into the most awful fascists  and simply say 'kill them',. kill them now and kill them in the most awful way you can as mice are terrible and breed disease ( a statement I always mentally question with...And homo sapiens don't?)

Methods of control include drowning. electrocuting, smashing them into smithereens with a hammer, poisoning and boring them to death by reading out early edits of the next novel. ( I am THAT heartless)

Little nipper?? really?

A sadly common  method of 'dealing with them' - this is a whole new territory of the euphemism-  is a glued mat. Mousey runs across it,  gets stuck, squeals for help, other mice appear, they get stuck. The one thing to remember about this is to smash all but one with a hammer., so the live one remains squealing to attract more.
The guy with the hammer has the problem here. Bravo to a species that comes to the rescue of its fellow man, sorry mouse.

So there's a movement of humanity(?) to the meeces. And it's supported by that wise old woman mother nature.  Every house will have a mouse, there's peaceful co existence whether you want it or not. If you have 12, and put down poison, the poison will kill 8. The other four will have developed immunity to the poison and they will breed mice with a higher % population having the genetic resistance.

And they are clever. They have some kind of group communication,  telling tales to go round the side of the humane traps to the peanut butter buffet and avoid a short stay in the penthouse mouse cage that acts as the half way house.

Much better to humanely catch them,  mouse proof the house from the outside - steel wool and rodent wire. Keep all humane  traps indoors going for a few months and give the captured mice a better option elsewhere. Then they don't come back. And house mice can't live in a field, the clue is in the name.

So ours are going to the hut, to a big cardboard box with a mousehole, lined in polystyrene and with hay and some food. They can live in the bottom of the garden happily.

Useless mouser part 1
useless mouser 2
(the other cat wasn't available for the photoshoot)

And yes, I do have two cats but they are either pacifists or lazy.

One thing I have noticed is....well consider this. Out looking for food, trapped in a tiny cage, released to a  refugee camp with tube housing, at first on their own  then others join. The others are from different families and different parts but it makes no difference. to them. The newcomers are welcomed with a nose sticking out a tube and a wee noise that means 'Oii, we are up here!' and the newbie joins the rest of them, warm and cosy up a tube.

I think we can all learn something from that.

To A Mouse
Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Robert Burns

Caro Ramsay   06 04 18

1 comment:

  1. At my farm, which is in the heart of mouse country, your ode to mice will find many fans among those who dwell within my farm house walls. Though “odor of mice”—or eau de mouse for those with more developed scents/sense—may seem a more appropriate moniker. No matter, a mouse by any other name still smells as s....t, and be welcomed in my walls and cellars by their many hungry two-meter long blacksnake colleagues waiting to make their acquaintance.