Saturday, October 22, 2011

The World's Greatest Mouse Trap


Out here in the sticks, all of our water comes from wells. We have four, two at the barns and one for each house. Our pumphouse is a little wooden building shaped like a miniature barn. With all the record rains we've had in the past two years, we have discovered that a pumphouse with a dirt floor is not the optimum in design,  usually after a downpour when we turn on the kitchen faucet and mud runs out. So while we've got a concrete truck coming to pour the foundation for our new porch (this is me doing a very happy dance), we're going to put a slab under the pumphouse, too.

The pumphouse doubles as the garden storage shed, and was jammed with dead lawnmowers, kayak oars, broken rakes and hoes, a fertilizer spreader, a rusted out table top grill, a dismantled plastic pipe roping steer, three bundles of asphalt shingles (oh my freaking back those things are heavy!), two mangled extension cords, several sections of hose less than six feet long, three horse leg wraps (for all those three-legged horses I own) and a variety of abandoned yard ornaments, amongst other things. I backed one of the horse trailers up to the door and loaded up the whole mess. (Sign ups next week for the betting pool on which day next spring we will finally drag all that stuff out of that trailer, regardless of when the pumphouse is actually finished).

In the very back corner, likely undisturbed since the shed was installed about ten years ago, I found these:

They are ceramic, with walls over an inch thick. I believe they're also called stoneware. I can't even lift the larger one. We call them butter crocks, but they were also used for storing salted meat or curing sauerkraut back in the days before refrigeration. When we raised pigs and did our own butchering and smoking, Dad used them for brining bacons and hams. At some point, they were shoved into the back corner of the pumphouse and left there, uncovered. 

The uncovered part is the key. 

The pumphouse always smells bad. Not surprising, considering it is damp and freely accessible to varmints of all kinds. I never really thought much about it until I grabbed the smaller of the crocks and hauled it out into the daylight. 

Oh. My. God. 

You see, a mouse can easily fall into one of these things, but there is absolutely no way it can get back out. Apparently, this has happened quite often over the months and months those crocks have been sitting in that pumphouse, because the inside looked like this:

  Yes, those are mouse carcasses. Nothing but mouse carcasses. And skeletons. And skulls. Little tiny vertebraes. Hundreds and hundreds of them, in varying states of decay, a layer over an inch deep in the bottom of that crock. They were stuck in there, requiring that I chisel them out with the broken hoe. 

And they crunched.

Thank God the wind was blowing, to lessen the stench. Now if you'll excuse me I'll just be over here hurking in the bushes.



Bill Cameron said...

Oh, the humanity. Or mousanity. Something.

Jaym said...

Wasn't Roo trying to be a 3-legged horse? He must have known.

Also: Holy. Hell. Just the thought is enough for dry-heaves.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Roo was the reason for the leg wraps in the pumphouse. I led him over there every night to hose off his leg then re-wrap. I thought I'd never get the smell of those used wraps out of my head. It's gone now, replaced by mouse decay.

Patty Blount said...


For this city girl, ONE carcass was one too many.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Having lived in a house build in a field, a house in the woods and now a house on a lake, I have NEVER been so grossed out. EWWWWWWW

I had well water for about 7 years. I hated our water. Never tasted very good. That one well was such a hassle. I can't imagine taking care of 4 wells!

Megan Coakley said...

Yuck. I've had a similar experience with mice, but on a MUCH smaller scale. I've had them climb in my grass and bird seed buckets, with no way up and out. I'd find their little carcasses in the spring. Most recently, I went to grab a scoop of dog food from an extra bag we had in the garage. I reached in, and out came a mouse with the kibble. I figure he died fat and happy, much like I hope I will.

Unknown said...

Just thinking about the stench is giving me bad chills. I salute you for surviving that ordeal! How did you get rid of those carcasses? I do hope you didn’t forget to spray disinfectant on those dead bodies before removing them (because even with gloves, you may still get infected).

Annabelle Millard

Kari Lynn Dell said...


I still gag a little remembering. I doused the whole mess with ammonia, donned rubber gloves and a dust mask, then scraped out what I could with the garden hoe before hitting it with the power washer. Still...ugh.