The fourth cut of hay is over. Corn is currently being harvested, chopped, and stored in a bunker behind the barns. The rains have made driving equipment through some of the muddiest fields difficult, if not impossible.
There’s time to focus on other pre-winter tasks, like gathering dropped apples to feed the turkeys - and getting the first load of pellets, wood, or corn to start up the various outdoor furnaces on the farm.
It’s not only people preparing for the change of season; critters do it too.
Field mice are a problem this time of year. Not at the house, the cats take care of that. Both sit patiently by a small hole in the wall near the garage door, day and night, until an unlucky rodent pokes it head in.
Sweeping up those tiny corpses from under the car, I can live with that. But inside the cheeseplant, it is quite another story.
For the second time in six years, mice have gotten into the curing rooms. We had to destroy 1,300 pounds of cheese two weeks ago, dumping it into the manure pit to be spread on the fields - excepting what the dog dragged back out onto the lawn.
(Don’t let the dog kiss you for a while.)
The plant has always had sticky-pad mousetraps in every corner, and it didn’t make a bit of difference.
Now, in addition to those traps, we have set out larger sticky “rattraps” custom-baited with the stinkiest cheese we make.
There are also one or two “humane” baited boxes –miniaturized versions of the metal traps used by the State to catch and release raccoons hereabouts.
There’s no indicator to let you know that the boxes have been tripped; I think you have to pick it up and shake it to find out if there’s something alive, rattling around inside.
(I won’t be handling any of that.)
My husband Dan even purchased an electronic “mice-away” device that is supposed to melt rodent brains within a ten-foot radius and taserfy the circuitry in the walls - or something along those lines. We don’t know how it works; we only hope that it will.
Everything that can be done has been done, short of sitting in the hallway with a loaded shotgun, waiting for mice to go darting across the room.
Two of them were caught on “stickies” the following week.
Though our anger and frustration remained high, there was little revenge to extract, other than Dan feeding them to the semi-feral barncats.
He postulated that nailing one to the wall would ward off other potential comers, but I don’t think that works in any place other than his imagination.
We replaced the front door of the cheeseplant, where we think they entered the building through a rotted sill, but the ongoing problem appears to be farm visitors who don’t close the door properly when they enter and exit.
I’d hate to have to stop allowing cheese-buying day-trippers interior access, but it’s been crossing my mind.