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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Off the grid: Mother nature and other domestic terrorists

By Ammi Midstokke For The Spokesman-Review

On our property, we like to pride ourselves for our progressive approach to equal access to and housing opportunities for the local wildlife. So long as they stay outside and refrain from becoming domestic terrorists.

Occasionally, they forget this rule and we have disputes that disqualify me from any monastic ambition I may have. Shamefully, I often find myself repeating the abusive mantra of, “You made me do it,” to a number of spiders, ants and flies before I swat them dead with a rolled up New Yorker.

In this way, I get through the issues way faster than if I was trying to read them.

When I am feeling particularly gregarious, I will research ways to keep these critters out of my house in the first place, only to discover sage but useless advice like “keep all cracks and crevices sealed.”

My house is literally built around a rock, and like most rocks, it is made up of cracks and crevices. And some chipmunk nests, cat prowling areas, even a bat cave. It’s a veritable ecosystem in itself and basically a stone ramp to other vulnerable areas one might expect to find on a straw bale cabin that tries to survive my ownership.

The feral cats, who have grown lazy after eating most of the birds in the yard this summer, seem to lose interest in protecting the perimeter this time of year.

Fat and content, they sleep on my bed all day, feral indeed, basking in my overwhelming guilt at having their little ear tips clipped.

They seemed wholly uninterested when I leapt out of bed last week in a middle-of-the-night psychotic episode of wall-banging combined with a bizarre sort of intellectual plea with nocturnal beasts to quiet down. All because some mice have moved into the third-floor penthouse of my bedroom wall.

I had dreamed of little mouse real estate agents showing the place with all its amenities: Great views, out of cat range, some leftover wasp larvae to munch on, and occasionally the neighbors watch “Hamilton” in its entirety. If you stand right here, you can peek through a knothole and feel like you’re watching it live on Broadway!

I would probably be less incensed if they were quiet neighbors, but apparently some sort of mouse fraternity has been established about 6 inches from where my pillow rests. I am sure I hear them doing shots while listening to Eurovision competitions, or whatever the rodent equivalent of hazing is.

I assume they are frat mice because they seem utterly unperturbed by my palm-thwacking interruptions. I hear them peep a little, rustle to hide mouse paraphernalia, and then carry on as usual. By now, they have figured out that it will take a hacksaw for me to get to them. They rightfully assume I won’t march out to the shop for an extension cord and tear out my bedroom walls just to get a good night’s sleep.

This is true. But I did call the exterminators.

In my mountain home, I am mostly happy to be self-sufficient, but there are a couple of jobs I am thrilled to outsource: anything that has to do with calculating amp-things or watt-stuffs, and the killing dead of varmints.

It is not an easy job to be my exterminator, as I require much assurance that said animals will not suffer.

I need a kind of Kevorkian of pest control to come by and play their favorite music while overdosing them on rodent barbiturates. I would prefer these companies have something more like terrorist negotiation training.

They could just coax the mice out of my walls and promise to relocate them to a better area where they didn’t disturb anyone. For example, I have a neighbor who likes to use his tractor to put speed bumps on my road, and he’s a little hard of hearing. It’s a wonder his eyesight is still good enough to see me flying by.

While there is some sense of needless tragedy, the promise of a good night’s sleep has provided solace in this difficult time. At least until I have to hire a paranormal specialist (another trade I prefer to outsource) to get rid of their tiny ghosts, which will no doubt haunt me and my conscience for the foreseeable future.

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