Last Tuesday my midnight snack was ruined by a mouse scuttling across the kitchen tiles - a grisly reminder that I am no domestic goddess and that I should probably get a cleaner. Or a gun.
Usually my neighbour’s cat, Fat Chris, keeps the rodent population under control. He jumps over the fence twice a day and eats anything that moves under the house. But I haven’t seen Fat Chris lately, only my neighbour’s five show dogs, which she addresses lovingly from her back porch, “Nathan! Tiffany! Mongrels!!”
There were mice here when we moved in and I refused to go within a five kilometre radius of Newstead until they were dealt with. Chris (my husband, not the cat) set some traps. When we started dating he had half an emu under his Patrol from driving across the Nullarbor and didn’t understand why I found this disturbing, but he has obviously mellowed with age; the following morning I overheard him addressing a tiny corpse in the kitchen, “Sorry little fella, that’s the way it has to be.”
No such sentiment from me! I placed a piece of bread on the kitchen floor and hid behind the fridge with a copy of Jamie Durie’s Edible Garden Design over my head (knew it would come in handy eventually). As the mouse darted out of a hole in the wall towards the bread I yelled, “FUCKING DIE MOTHER FUCKER!” and threw Jamie across the kitchen, knocking dinner off the stove, creating more mess to attract the mouse, which got away.
My dog is from Coburg so she is useless. “Kill Coco! Kill the mouse!” She took her time getting down off the couch to waddle over to the kitchen and eat the bread.
I bought some traps. Everyone in Newstead raves about the plastic ones with teeth. They were sold out in Castlemaine but I found some metal ones with teeth. I couldn’t work out how to set them so Mitch From Over the Fence helped. While he placed the traps under the stove and in the cupboards he said reassuring things like, “We’ve got heaps of mice.”
I spent all night waiting for the traps to go off. It’s infuriating that these things can’t be dealt with immediately. Where I come from, if something bothered you, you could just stab them. I psyched myself up to check under the oven in the morning; no corpse. I spent the rest of the day updating Chris via text:
Fucker still not dead.
Traps must be faulty.
Still not dead.
Going to abuse man at hardware store for selling bullshit traps.
Mouse on bench. Moving back to Sydney.
I ate dinner at the pub, where the neighbours said reassuring things like, “There is a plague.”
When Chris finally got home, he re-set the traps with bacon rind. He caught two that night and two more the next day. This completely freaked me out because I was convinced we only had one mouse. He accused me of being a drama queen. I accused him of abandoning me in a town plagued by vermin.
After dinner and a bath, my daughter has quiet time. When her dad is home this involves banging a tambourine with her head or launching off the back of the couch. When it’s just the girls we read books. One of her favourites is Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter:
Appley Dapply, a little brown mouse, goes to the cupboard in somebody’s house,
In somebody’s cupboard there’s everything nice, cake, cheese, jam biscuits – all charming for mice!
Appley Dapply has little sharp eyes, and Appley Dapply is so fond of pies!
She handed this one to me tonight. I put the book in the bin and told her in my best mum-quiet time voice, “Appley Dapply – that mother fucker is dead.”