The end of Mouse’s tale: Death by Organic Peanut Butter

Last Friday night I reported how we found a little visitor at the Manse when we arrived: a mouse named Mouse who’d left a trail of droppings in the pantry and who was later spotted dashing behind the fridge. We got straight to work on Saturday, with Raymond carefully examining the mousetrap section at the Madoc Home Hardware and deciding on two packages of what is billed as The Better Moustrap. At the totally excellent (and new to us) Food Company store in Tweed we bought some of the health-food-store peanut butter that I adore – ground-up peanuts and nothing else – and it wasn’t just for me and my toast: peanut butter is, Raymond informed me, what’s best to put in the trap.

(That theory has been disputed by commenter Scott of the excellent blog Meats, Roots and Leaves [meatsrootsandleaves.com; check out his post on good places to eat in sundry parts of the world – London, Istanbul, Washington and Perth, Ont., among others; or the one on making your own steak sauce, inspired by Montreal’s Joe Beef restaurant], who says mice can nab the peanut butter without getting trapped. He recommends sunflower seeds, shells still on, glued to the trap. Next time!)

So we – okay, Raymond – set the traps Saturday night with high hopes. One was by the fridge where Mouse had last been seen; one was by the stove in the pantry where Mouse’s poop had been all too in evidence. Next morning we awoke to find that Mouse had (as Scott suggests, actually) managed to get some of the peanut butter and snap the trap, but escaped unscathed. Drat.

But we reset the traps and continued to hope. And by Monday morning, I’m afraid the bell had tolled for Mouse: there he was, upside down and dead as a doornail (what is a doornail, anyway?) in the trap by the fridge.

We are hoping that Mouse was a lone visitor, but everyone in Queensborough tells us that mice in the house are very common in the area as the weather gets colder, and that we’d better brace for more. So the traps have been set again.

But meanwhile – and I blame this more on the lack of delivery of a morning newspaper than anything else; deprived of his usual occupation while enjoying his morning coffee, Raymond was at loose ends – I awoke Saturday morning to discover that my husband had turned poet – or, more precisely, purveyor of doggerel – thanks to Mouse and the ladybugs and the wasps/hornets and the livestock generally that we’ve had to deal with since we bought the Manse. Here is Raymond’s early-morning composition:

There’s a Mouse in the House

There once was a house called the Manse
Where creatures would come just to dance
There were ladybugs and hornets
All wearing fine bonnets
Believing they were there to enhance.

One day little droppings were spotted
On the stovetop where pots had been potted:
Scooting straight ‘cross the floor
To the fridge, round the door,
Was a fat little thing that was cornered.

(By the way, if you have ever heard Raymond’s Boston-area accent you’ll realize that “potted” and “cornered” can rhyme better than you might think.)

Don’t think that we don’t like mice
Domesticated, they’re usually quite nice.
But when it comes to the food
And Raymond’s in a mood
No mouse in the house gets the rice!

SNAP!

And indeed, SNAP! is doubtless the last thing Mouse heard. Poor Mouse.

I hope he got at least a little taste of that good peanut butter.

10 thoughts on “The end of Mouse’s tale: Death by Organic Peanut Butter

  1. Take it from the pros: Peanut butter in traps (we used the sticky paper traps with the peanut butter right in the middle) placed all along the sill in the basement will eliminate the mice from coming upstairs into the house! And, if you are like us, you will catch 1 or 2 every day in the winter! Poor little critters are cold and are trying to warm up! Before doing this, we used to place the traps in the house, behind the fridge, etc. But, after hearing mice inside the walls while I’m in bed….well, that just didn’t suit me….they follow the radiator pipes all the way up….just one word for that one: Ewwwwwww! Or, should I have said Eeeeek! I am so happy to have a new house where they haven’t yet found an entry point……and, I hope they never do……snakes in the garage is quite enough for me!

    • Well, it totally does make sense to try to trap the mice at ground level, where they obviously would have to come in, so I think we will take your advice on the traps in the basement, Lu. There are probably so many possible points on entry in the old Manse … But on another topic: snakes in the garage? Yikes! I have no fear of mice, but I think a snake would rattle me, even though I know in my head they are good creatures.

  2. We have the best trap of all. A nice little puddy tat who is very friendly to us humans but death to anything rodent trying to get into the house. Of course that would be difficult for you and Raymond as it would be something else to pack for your trips here.
    By the way if the mouse heard the, “SNAP”, it’s probably still alive!

    • Ha! Well, I was definitely wrong in suggesting the mouse heard the SNAP, Dave, because he was most definitely deader than dead. We have two puddy tats, one of whom especially (imagining herself to be ferocious, in an Elmer Fudd sort of way) would probably be a great mouser; but as you say, it would be more trouble than it was worth to travel back and forth with them. Especially since said “ferocious” cat is a terrible traveller and would yowl the entire four and a half hours. My nerves would not stand it. But I sure look forward to the time when we might be at the Manse enough to have a cat or two there. As a mug my mother gave me a while back says, “A house is not a home without a cat.”

  3. Mice
    by Rose Fyleman

    I think mice are nice.

    Their tails are long
    Their faces small,
    They haven’t any
    Chins at all.
    Their ears are pink,
    Their teeth are white,
    They run about
    The house at night.
    They nibble things
    They shouldn’t touch
    And no one seems
    To like them much.
    But I think mice
    Are nice

    • Oh, Lindi, I hadn’t thought of that poem in decades! I think I once memorized it for school or something – as perhaps did you. Thank you for reminding us that mice are rather nice. I did feel badly for our poor dead Mouse, I have to say. But mouse droppings in the kitchen are not very nice.

  4. Oh, the Horror, the Horror!

    I capture our mice with a live trap, keep them in a terrarium for the winter and release them outside in the spring. The cats [no, the fatties won’t catch any inside…sheesh] love watching them run the wheel, etc for hours at a time — “cat TV”. The typical captured mouse is the indigenous deermouse which is almost odourless [as compared to pet store mice].

    • Graham, I just cannot believe that all those beautiful cats you have can’t see their way to catching a mouse or two! Maybe they need reprogramming. Could we borrow one or two for a mice-hunting weekend at the Manse? (Kidding. I’m sure they would be too homesick for their home across the Black River to nab any Manse mice.)

      Sent from my iPhone

  5. How about dead as a doornail?
    A This is an ancient expression: we have a reference to this dating back to 1350, and it also appears in the fourteenth-century work The Vision of Piers Plowman and in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Another expression, of rather later date, is as dead as a herring, because most people only saw herrings when they were long dead and preserved; there are other similes with the same meaning, such as dead as mutton, or dead as a stone.

    Dead enough for you?
    But why particularly a doornail, rather than just any old nail? Could it be because of the repetition of sounds, and the much better rhythm of the phrase compared with the version without door? Almost certainly the euphony has caused the phrase to survive longer than the alternatives I’ve quoted. But could there something special about a doornail?
    The usual reason given is that a doornail was one of the heavy studded nails on the outside of a medieval door, or possibly that the phrase refers to the particularly big one on which the knocker rested. A doornail, because of its size and probable antiquity, would seem dead enough for any proverb; the one on which the knocker sat might be thought particularly dead because of the number of times it had been knocked on the head.
    But William and Mary Morris, in The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, quote a correspondent who points out that it could come from a standard term in carpentry. If you hammer a nail through a piece of timber and then flatten the end over on the inside so it can’t be removed again (a technique called clinching), the nail is said to be dead, because you can’t use it again. Doornails would very probably have been subjected to this treatment to give extra strength in the years before screws were available. So they were dead because they’d been clinched. It sounds plausible, but whether it’s right or not we will probably never know.

    • Wow, Kerry, this is SERIOUSLY impressive! How on earth do you know all this stuff? I have to say that the final theory, about the nails twisted so they could no longer be used, and thus were “dead,” has a ring of truth to it.

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