Mice in the House

mouse mice

It was hard enough to throw a big multi-family Thanksgiving this year, and then the uninvited guests showed up.  One week before Thanksgiving, I discovered we have mice in the house.

Thanksgiving dinner had usually been a difficult juggle between my husband’s family and my own family.  We tried attending two dinners in one day, and that turned out to be a disaster, with siblings and aunts feeling slighted that we didn’t eat as much the second dinner that day.  Then, we tried alternating years for a few years.  That also was difficult, because each family had some special “reason” we had to throw off that schedule and attend their dinner each particular year.  Finally, I said enough was enough.  I informed everyone we would not be attending anyone else’s parties this year, because I wanted to cook a special dinner for my own family.  My statement got misinterpreted by both families.  They figured if I was going to cook on Thanksgiving, then everyone would just come to my house.  Instead of a quiet special day enjoying my own husband and children, I found myself stressing for an entire month.  That was even before we discovered mice in the house.

Mouse on a table
A mouse on a kitchen table, ready to ruin your family gathering.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

I assigned my husband certain jobs – he was to make the yard look nice and neat, put up the Christmas lights, and re-stain the banisters.  My children were all given serious talks about getting their rooms neat and clean and keeping the rest of the house pristine.  I flew into full-on cleaning mode.  Carpets were cleaned, I deep-cleaned the stove, the kitchen, the front room, and the living room and put locks on all the doors for rooms guests would not be allowed to see.

I designed the menu, and redid it many times, remembering a certain niece’s allergies, my mother-in-law’s aversion to vegetables, and my sister’s vegetarian preferences.

Then, one week before Thanksgiving, right when I was heading out to purchase a new tablecloth and an extra table or two, I saw a mouse run across my kitchen floor and disappear under the kitchen sink.  I ran to the kitchen sink and threw open the cabinet door, surprising two more mice rummaging around in the garbage can.  Nothing could be worse for me at this moment in time than mice in the house.

I panicked.  I admit it.  I called my husband at work, in full-on tears.  Everything was ruined, what could we possibly do, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Bless him, he listened to me, quietly calmed me down and reminded me there are great services out there that get rid of mice.  I should just call Allstate Animal Removal and schedule mouse removal service.

He was right, and Allstate was great, saving my Thanksgiving.  The day came and went, and it took me another week to do the post-party clean up and regain my sanity.  I wish I could say no to family, but I’m afraid next year, we’ll probably just agree to show up and then have to bag out at the last minute because “someone got sick.”  Then, my family will just go see a movie

Coyote Problem

A coyote
A coyote causing problems in a neighborhood.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

I thought coyote problems only happened in really remote areas of the country, in places where people ranched or farmed and had to get in their truck to drive to visit their closest neighbors.  My uncle has a pig ranch in Idaho, and he talks about how he lost a favorite dog to a coyote one night when the dog ran off instead of coming inside, or how mad he was when a coyote destroyed all of his chickens.  When we’d visit my uncle, my sisters and I always had a great time, with the exception of the pig smell and the sound of the coyotes at night.

So, you can imagine how I felt the other night when I went out of my cute cookie-cutter house in my little cookie-cutter neighborhood to take the garbage cans down to the street for pickup the next morning, and heard a pack of coyotes yipping and barking to each other somewhere close to the neighborhood.

I couldn’t believe it, and my uncle’s stories came flooding back to me.  I don’t live in the boonies.  I live in a very populated suburban area.  True, the subdivisions went up only about six years ago, but the area was built up very quickly and is more densely populated.  Surely we couldn’t have coyote problems here.  Surely, I couldn’t be more wrong.

My husband didn’t believe me until he left for work early the next morning, and heard the coyotes’ wild sounds floating across the still subdivision.  In talking with other neighbors, we discovered a few households had lost a cat, and just figured the cat had wandered off.  Now, we suspect a far worse fate for beloved pets.  As we became more aware of the coyote problem, people stopped going jogging by themselves in the evening or early morning hours.  Parents started making children stay inside instead of walking by themselves to a friend’s house.  While the coyotes had not yet posed a real threat to a human, the potential was there, and we changed our lifestyles slightly to be more careful.

I soon grew tired of it, and so did my children, who wanted to get back outside with their friends to ride bikes or play soccer.  I wanted to stop worrying about the dog, who wasn’t raised to be an indoor pet.

While there is a bounty on coyotes in our state, we still live in a populated area, and can’t just go out coyote hunting without putting a lot of people at risk.  So, we needed a professional service to get rid of the coyote problem for us.  Fortunately, most of the neighborhood was willing to chip in, and we got a really good expert through Allstate Animal Control.  We’re all still pretty wary, realizing that, even though we’re not in a remote area of the country, we can still have clashes with wild animals.

Feral Cat Scratch


I had plenty of worries when I sent my first-grader son to the bus stop the first day of school, but feral cat scratches wasn’t even on my radar of potential problems.

He’s my first child to go off to a full day of school, so it took a lot of courage for me to let him walk out the door by himself that first day, go off and wait at a bus stop full of older kids, get on a bus with a driver I didn’t know, and head off to school without me.  He had assured me that he would be fine without having me walk him down to the bus stop every day, and I knew he was right.  Especially, since I could still sort of see the bus stop from the window in my front room.  For a month, every morning after I’d kissed him goodbye, I’d close the door and then rush to the window to make sure he got to the bus stop okay, and wasn’t harassed by any of the older children.

After several weeks, though, I was reassured.  He always walked on the sidewalk, played nicely with the other children, and stood obediently in line to board the bus when it arrived.  The routine settled in, and I soon stopped watching him after he left the house.

The other day, though, I noticed he had some scratches on the back of his hand when he got home.  When I asked him about it, he said that a cat scratched him that morning at the bus stop.  Even though it didn’t look very serious, I cleaned up his hand with some antibiotic cream.  The next day, I happened to run into my neighbor whose driveway was the bus stop.  “I didn’t know you got a cat,” I said, hoping to gently broach the subject of the cat that scratched my son’s hand.  Surprised, she responded, “What are you talking about?  I don’t have a cat.”

I explained what had happened, and got even more concerned when my son came home with yet another cat scratch on his arm that day.  I called my neighbor up, and we decided we’d both watch what was going on at the bus stop the next morning.

What we saw shocked us.  When the children arrived at the bus stop, several feral cats came running up to them.  These weren’t tiny kittens, but full-fledged mangy stray cats.  The children flocked around them, picking them up, petting them, and feeding them some bits from their lunch boxes.  My neighbor and I must have realized the danger at the same time, because we both ran out our front doors at the same time, calling out to the kids and shooing the cats away.

I’ve contacted the parents of each one of the children at our bus stop so they can inspect their children for scratches or bites, and my son has now had to endure a series of shots from our pediatrician.  Feral cat scratches could transmit all kinds of infections or illnesses, and I won’t take any chances.

Needless to say, we’ve contacted someone to get rid of the feral cats, and I walk my son down to the bus stop every morning, much to his dismay.