We’re being invaded!

There’s no denying the weather is beautiful. Crisp air, leaves turning a rainbow of colors, and almost-freezing temps at night. Which, apparently, mice don’t like. My first inkling there was An Issue was when I woke up and stumbled toward the coffee maker one fine morning, only to find three of our four cats lined up in front of the stove, staring intently underneath it.

Then they started staring under the couch. And the table. And the other couch. Until one night, Wesson comes trotting proudly down the hallway with what we thought was one of his toys until he dropped it and it went rampaging down the hall and disappeared somewhere in my office. Sigh. Someone missed a memo, because I don’t do mice.

Gene has set traps everywhere and gleefully announces his kill count every time he hears one snap. He even had to set some in my car, blaming my habit of leaving my bag of work snacks in the front seat. Since I only work in the city two afternoons a week, the bag just kind of sits there, apparently smelling delicious. Who knew mice would climb through an air vent just to eat trail mix? So foul. At least I discovered the evidence before I stuck my hand in the bag. Shudder. I mean, it’s trail mix. Half of it looks like mouse leavings anyway. I’m kinda off trail mix right now, actually.

At any rate, after trapping 5(!) mice in my car, I’m seeing them everywhere I look. Whether they’re there or not. An innocuous beet just chilling on the counter got me screaming, and I hold my breath every time I open a cabinet. After having a mini-meltdown in the pest control aisle of the hardware store, the employees assured me that everyone has this problem in the fall. Which oddly enough doesn’t make me feel one bit better. It just means there’s a lot of mice out there roaming around.

In far happier critter news, we got a rooster! I wanted to get a guardian for the flock since we free range them as much as possible, and roosters are great for sounding alarms. After asking around for a few weeks, I found someone with an extra Rhode Island Red roo, and Bessie and I went to pick him up while she was here for her yearly fall visit (yes, she got to see a mouse. I was not thrilled to learn they’re downstairs, too.)

Midas fit right in with the ladies, and already has his harem of favorites picked out. He’s a really sweet rooster, unlike Sean Paul from back in the day. I don’t feel the need to carry a shovel and watch my six when Midas is around. His favorite thing to do is find treats, then call all the hens over to have some. He’ll even pick up little bits of corn and drop them in front of a hen! It’s really cute.

It’s hysterical to watch them all chase the frogs and toads. Apparently those are good eats if you’re a chicken, and all 18 of them will tear around the yard trying to catch one. I feel bad for the poor amphibians, they’ve always been near the top of my list of favorite wildlife. I save them when I can, and look away when I can’t.

Who knew we had all this space?

If there’s anything I would change about the house we bought, it’s the cabinets. Don’t get me wrong – they’re beautiful. Solid wood, amazing construction, built by hand to last forever. Also built before “family size” was a thing. Each shelf is only 8 inches tall, so good luck trying to fit the 50-lbs of nutmeg I just bought at Costco. Which was a very good price, by the way. (Apologies if you’re not a Simpsons fan and missed the reference.)

At any rate, we had a lot of things stored on the counters. A lot. I’m no Martha Stewart by any means, but cluttered counters have always vexed me mightily. The last straw was the 5-gallon water filter contraption that Gene stored on the counter when our water filter pitchers kept dying. It’s two huge white buckets that are like 3 feet tall combined. And that puppy took up a lot of valuable real estate. It’s not that I don’t appreciate delicious water, but having to move it from side to side depending on which upper cabinet I wanted to access got real old, real quick.

I guess Gene finally got tired of me flipping the channel over to “Hoarders,” looking at the counters, and heaving mighty sighs every time he walked in the room, because a few days ago he built me a pantry! It’s got a custom fit cubby for the filter, plus plenty of storage for canisters, boxes, and assorted snacks. I painted the inside the same tropical blue that’s in our bathroom, because I firmly believe all pantries need a pop of color. And I’m definitely enjoying all the new counter space!

I’m glad he’s done with this DIY project, because I’ve already got another one lined up. We were doing the monthly shopping in Virginia the other day, and decided to explore some of the back roads a little. I saw the most magical thing – a fully enclosed cat pagoda in someone’s front yard that was accessed via a plastic pipe leading from the enclosure up to a window! Sure it looked kind of tacky how they’d taped off the window to hold up the pipe, and 8 feet of black plastic tubing hanging out of the house would probably make the collective heads of any HOA board members explode (good thing there’s none of those in a 300-mile radius!) but I know when Gene builds it for me, it will be super chic and incredible looking.

He was quick to point out we don’t have any suitable windows for that sort of thing in the entire house, and didn’t seem enthused when I reminded him how dryers were vented by cutting a hole in the wall and this was just a slightly larger, way more functional version of that. But he’ll come around, I’m sure of it. My only concern is how do you get the cats to use it for the first time?

Our little one, Charlie, tends to be a bit spikey when she’s unsure of a situation, and I can pretty much guarantee shoving her down a dark tube leading to the Great Unknown counts as a “Situation”. Even if I did screech “go towards the light, kitty!!!” while I was doing it. And let’s be honest – it’s gonna have to be a big pipe if Thing 2 uses it. While he’s nowhere near Chunk’s stature (miss you everyday, big boy), there’s a certain diameter, not to mention reinforcing,┬áthat’s going to required.

So ya, Gene’s got some planning to do. Especially the part about keeping it heated in the wintertime. But I’m sure he’ll come up with something spectacular!