I began my career in rodent control as a 12-year old kid trying to make a few bucks to fix up my bike just the way I wanted. Mom and Dad believed if I wanted something really badly, I had to find a way to pay for it, and today I’m happy they taught me the importance of self-reliance. I’m not sure how happy Mom was that I chose to make that money through rodent control, though. She was more than concerned over my safety and health, but after Mom’s long lectures, Dad’s lessons in trapping rodents and exterminating rodents, and many promises and reassurances from me, I was finally able to start my business.
Mom had hoped that I would’ve earned money through babysitting and lawn mowing, but my friends and I saw a real need for rodent control that summer. For some reason, as the snows melted that spring, voles, mice, rats, gophers and moles were out in force. It seemed like the whole neighborhood was fighting off rodents. I’d heard Dad complaining about it loudly enough when he discovered trails of dead grass snaking through the yard. Our lawn looked like a roadmap of seemingly random vole trails. Mom and some of her friends were chatting over coffee one spring morning, alternating between horror stories of mice in the pantry or rats in the walls, and sharing ideas on how to get rid of mice and the best ways to exterminate rats. We lived in a nice enough neighborhood, so no one understood why we were under attack that year.
So, my friends and I walked around a few neighborhoods, offering rodent control. Our nose for business steered us right to easy money. Fifteen cents for each mouse or rat we caught, twenty cents for each vole, and a whopping thirty cents for catching gophers or moles. We experimented with all different kinds of bait, traps, techniques, and yes, rat poison. Mom put a stop to us using the poisons, though, until the following year when I could prove I was wise and mature enough to use it safely.
We went inside people’s homes, crawling around on the floor to find mouse holes or rat droppings. We’d set the traps, come back later to get rid of dead mice or dead rats, set more traps. When we stopped catching rodents from that hole, we’d block it up as best we could. If rodents came back, so would we.
The best part of the job, though, was rodent control out in the yards. My friends and I would scout through the lawn looking for vole holes or vole damage. Gopher holes and mole mounds were easy to spot. We got to spend our summer afternoons together outside, under the warm sun, joking and laughing and catching voles, trapping gophers or getting rid of moles. We’d earn a few cents each time and go home tired, happy and a little bit richer. By the end of the summer, I got my bike fixed up just the way I liked, and my friends and I were talking about how we could expand our business. We took care of my neighborhood’s rodent control for years after that, and I got a real sense on how to run a business and have fun at the same time.