Amityville Horror (but with mice)

Caught what I believe is baby mouse thirteen and fourteen tonight. Once again within like twenty minutes of each other. Around nine o’clock, the mousing hour in our home, the wife said “Did you set the trap because the cat is playing with it”.

“No I didn’t set the trap. Let me check and see if there’s anything in it”

Well I picked it up and about jumped out of my skin, for a mouse was concealed under the trap. In fact the whole family jumped and screamed. It was quite a site. The mouse darted from the hall into the bathroom with cat in tow. I closed the door so we could get the mouse box, yes we have a paper box that is the official mouse box.

I opened the door and this one was a jumper. I cornered it behind the toilet, and it was trying to jump up the corner of the wall. Quickly I got it in the paper…er, mouse box. The kids and I took the mouse out. There was still some daylight so we were able to take the mouse far down the driveway. Along the way we saw the milk snake sitting silently in the middle of the driveway. I so badly wanted to drop the mouse right in front of the snake and watch the snake kill it, but the kids begged me not too.

Darn.

A half hour later, as we were relaxing in the family room, my kid says “Dad I think I hear squeaking!”.

“Turn the tv down” and I jumped up to go find the cat. Not on the main floor, in my bedroom or foyer. But I could kind of hear squeaking too. Damn it.

Then my cat comes prancing up the stairs from the basement with a mouse in his mouth. The bastard brought the damn thing upstairs like it was his little stuffed animal or fuzzy ball. The cat dropped the mouse of in the bedroom. I’m scrambling for the mouse box. The cat has the damn thing under his paw against the baseboard. I make him let it go and the freaking mouse goes under the dresser. We get a yard stick, shove it under the dresser. I move a little chest at the end of the dresser on the floor and the mouse pops out and jumps into the mouse box.

We took the stupid mouse outside and let it go in the driveway.

This is so annoying. All I can think of is we have to totally go through the bedroom and storage room to exercise any nests and plug any holes we can find. I don’t know if the damn things live in here or they are coming back repeatedly. We have two cats for the love of god. These stupid mice should not want to be in our house.

I need more snakes.

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Milk Snake

The other day, after days of releasing baby mice outside of the house, I saw a big snake moving in from the front planting bed towards the front deck. I called for the boys to come take a look. We had no idea what kind of snake it was. So I googled it and found this keen article on Cleveland.com about the 25 types of snakes that live in Ohio. The wife and I narrowed it down to milk, rat and fox snakes. I sent a message off to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park asking them to help me identify it. Turns out it’s a milk snake. The milk snake is a constrictor, meaning it squeezes it’s prey and swallows it whole, and their primary food is mice. So it is a very friendly animal to have in our yard. I’m hoping this two foot long snake eats up all the mice it can find around the perimeter of my house.

One note on the mice: number 12 and 13 baby mouse were caught and released last night. Ugh.

milk-snake

2′ long milk snake

 

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Milk Snake by front deck.

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Playground Stain

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, now was the time to finally clean up and stain the kids’ playground set. We’ve had the set for five years now and it was looking pretty sad.

Once again I found myself at Lowe’s, I picked up some Olypmic deck cleaner and two gallons of stain. I got Cabot semi-solid deck stain, in two colors. Mission Brown for the play set, and an Oak Brown for another project. It was buy one get one free (after rebate). About $46 per gallon. The cleaner was like $20. I picked up some brushes and mineral spirits too.

I had planned on pressure washing the set but the cleaner said that wasn’t necessary. I applied the cleaner section by section with a pump sprayer, let it sit for a few minutes and used a hand scrub brush to take the dirt, cleaner and old stain off.

Yes! The cleaner actually was taking the old stain off! Left behind was grey weathered wood in some places. In other places it looked like brand new wood. It worked awesome. I could have power washed the set at that point to remove remaining residue but honestly I was trying to do this efficiently and rinsing everything off with a hose worked well enough for me. Two notes: 1) the old stain clumps up and will create a mess and lots of residue so rinsing is critical, and 2) use the cleaner everywhere because it takes the stain off. If you leave the stain on and don’t use the cleaner certain areas, those areas won’t take the new stain as well.

The stain took to the set wonderfully. The Mission Brown was basically a match of the original color, a nice deep brown with reddish hue. One gallon was enough to almost do the entire set. I need about a quart more to finish some underside portions.

The project took about 2-3 days by myself, a few hours each of those days.

Garage Loft Support

Earlier this month I noticed the 4×4 post near the center of the loft was bowed in two directions. Could there really be that much weight up there? As you may remember, we built the loft back in October. So here we are in May, five months later and now the post is bowing.

I was worried the whole thing would come down, so I had a friend come over and help me unload some bins I had stored on the loft. We installed a temporary 4×4 to help support the bowed post.

This past weekend I was able to run up to Lowe’s and drop about $50-$75 on some lumber, brackets and construction adhesive. The plan I made was to install two wing walls at each end of the loft. Each would provide 24″ of support under the LVL header. These wing walls will basically disappear once I complete all of my wood shelves I want to build along the perimeter of the garage. The primary part of my plan though would be two 4×4 supports in the middle of the loft. These two posts would be 3′ apart, leaving 9′ of open span to each side to the next 4×4 post against each wall.

I built the 2×4 wing walls on my saw horses and installed them. Under the bottom plates I used construction adhesive, then secured the plates with concrete fastening screws. I screwed the wing walls to the existing 4×4 posts that support the loft where it meets the walls. And lastly I screwed the top plate to the underside of the LVL.

In the center of the loft area I placed a 3′ bottom plate on the cement and a top plate on the underside of the LVL. Between the plates I inserted two 4×4 posts. I secured everything to each other, using metal brackets to help reinforce the 4×4 to plate connection.

I don’t think these new supports will hinder access to a parked car. I can’t imagine the loft is going anywhere now.

What I really believe is the single 4×4 post just warped as it dried out. I don’t think there was any danger of the loft collapsing, but it was scary at first until I could really assess the situation and reinforce it.

Pictures below. Enjoy.

Mice

I may be premature in saying this but we may be on vacation from the mice for a while. Baby mouse number nine was found brained in my bedroom two days ago. Baby mouse ten was caught in a box ten minutes later and released by the porch. And finally baby mouse eleven ran into the live trap and was released the next morning out by the driveway.

The wife says an average litter of mice is 6-8 baby mice. Two mice being low, and fourteen mice at the high end. So of course we were at the high end.

No, we haven’t found the nest yet, and no I haven’t working on closing the hole in the rim joist behind the air exchanger (which will be pretty much impossible. I did line the siding a month or two ago with steel wool where the mice are coming in. They can not eat through steel wool, so clogging up the termite gap behind the siding with steel wool should impede them until I can find the hole and close it.

The cats have returned to normal in their routine so I’m thinking that’s it for mice for a while.

I’ll keep you posted when…er, I mean…if, we see more mice inside.

 

Baby mouse ten

Baby mouse number ten after being released.

 

Mouse Update

Well I’m pretty sure yesterday’s mouse was the mom mouse. We had caught or killed four baby mice. And today that total rose to six total baby mice. Our smaller cat was sitting in my bedroom hallway in an unusual spot. I didn’t think much because I didn’t see anything. Then after lunch she was back in there and this time I saw a little ball of something. It was a baby mouse, basically dead. I got rid of it outside.

Then a half hour later I came back inside and both cats had another baby mouse cornered under a pile of clothes. This mouse I was able to catch and release alive.

Somewhere in that bedroom is the nest. And possibly some more baby mice. But the cats aren’t in there really sniffing around showing me where the nest is at. I’m taking the night off. Maybe more mice will come out of the woodwork so to speak.

I feel bad though, all those baby mice separated from their mom. Some of them dead. Her out there wondering where her babies went. But there’s not much I can do about it. She was dumb for having babies in our house, especially since we have two cats. Hopefully she is smarter next time.

Mousepalooza

The house is infested with mice apparently. Last week we had four straight days of baby mice events. And after a week of rest we had another mouse today.

We haven’t caught today’s mouse yet. But the four mice last week were all taken care of. All these mice are on the main level. Not sure why. Maybe they are living in the air vents now. Otherwise they are climbing up from the basement. Three of them showed up at 4:30 to 5:30 AM. The fourth baby mouse was our first confirmed kill. I came home to find it’s twitching body underneath Dixon, our cat. He licked it to death apparently. Probably just wanted to play.

Today’s mouse was in the living room. Daisy, our other cat, chased it around the couch. At one point getting it to jump 5′ straight up in the air out of fear. That mouse is currently under the freezer.

Wait!

The trap just went off!

I had bought another live trap today, along with some smelly things at Lowe’s that are suppose to make mice go away. I also noticed more blue foam in a slightly different place at the back of the house so this must be the new mouse hole. And the steel wool was hanging down near the edge of the siding…they are definitely getting in there. A couple weeks ago we saw a live mouse near the rim joist in the storage room but there wasn’t much we can do about it at the time. Too high up and then it went behind the air exchanger…oh yea..that’s right there’s a mouse in the trap…I forgot.

Dixon is batting at the closed trap.

I pick up the trap…its got some extra heft to it. It’s definitely balanced to one end.

A quick “mouse” text to the wife for backup support. Cats mill about wondering where the mouse went.

Shaking I go out on the porch. I hate mice. They dart around too much. Zero logic and predictability. Defies how I’m wired.

The trap has a spring loaded door. Bare foot, bare hands…I’m ill prepared. I pull the door back and shake. Damn. It barely opens.

I pull the door back and shake. It closes again. This time there’s a tail sticking out at least.

Mouse.

Third times the charm. I’m able to hold door open on trap and shake. Mouse is literally hanging on to the inside of trap for dear life.

Mouse drops to pavement. Limps away.

Bye mouse.