How to - the Handywoman's diary
Kimberley King (No job too easy - quick, sympathetic and effective maintenance and repairs)
You can do it - Mice.
Old places like you get a lot of round here are often full of little visitors Mice and rats and other vermin. You get lice too and fleas. And once I heard of a place they went into an old coal hole and found a load of snakes breeding in the corner. Nothing dangerous just grass snakes but they don't half get your heart running if you see 'em unexpected.
Now, anyone'll chase off a load of snakes and most people will go to any lengths to blitz anything that looks like an insect (although I understand some find them beautiful). But attitudes to furry friends isn't so uniform.
There's Wind in the Willows, I suppose and Dangermouse and that Rat off Horrible Histories. And when you see a documentary or something with a cute little mouse, people get a bit soft. But I'll tell you my view - two weeks of finding droppings on your chopping board and the telly not switching on cos somethings been chewing the power cable and even the most dreamy poetical person is right there with the exterminator.
But still there's some principles to deal with. Sometimes, it's in with the military grade poison gases. Like trench warfare with clouds of yellow-green smoke. I don't like that stuff me. Not cos of what it does to the rodents with their sharp teeth and no regard for coronation street. No - its all the masks and gloves and stuff you have to wear and the number of times you want to have a shower after. Lucky some of my clients let me have a shower in their place before I go home as I don't like contaminating the van.
Other times its humane traps and catch the little boys and put 'em out in the field so they can run straight back again when they fancy some cable for dinner (usually just before Corrie).
I had this discussion with my client the other day. She, being a lady of the cloth, didn't want any cruelty but was not necessarily against killing. So we talked over what works and what doesn't and this is what I did for her:
Killing mice with minimum cruelty
- Planning. You'll need a pencil, a can of expanding foam and some standard kit from the DIY store.
- Mice can fit through any hole a pencil can get through. Amazing but true. Move all the furniture away from the walls and go round with your pencil checking holes in the skirting boards. Fill any large holes with expanding foam, any small holes with normal plaster-filler.
- Then do some Sherlock Holmes stuff. Try to find the runways. This is where the mice move around. They tend to follow the same paths every night. You can tell because your client might tell you where they heard noises or saw activity or where there are little scuff marks from their claws or droppings.
- Put the mousetraps in the runways. Obviously prime them. Don't use cheese. That's just daft cartoon stuff. Peanut butter is the best thing. Or Nutella.
- Check your traps each evening and refresh the peanut butter. If nothing is caught after three nights you have got the runway wrong - try somewhere else.
- Remove the bodies quickly. If cats or dogs find them they can make a mess. Also - kids and adults with a delicate nature can find a shattered skull a bit off-putting. It is a matter of persevering. Best of luck to you.
The continuing kindness of clients.
Turns out my client didn't actually have any mice (just some noises she heard alone at night). But she got me back each day to check the traps in case and one night I stayed over to see if I could hear the scratching sounds she was talking about.
I didn't hear anything but then, we had a few bottles of Lambrini together and a really nice chat so I might have missed them.
I think it was a lot better than a dinner with some film star in London would have been. Women are always better to talk to than men anyway.
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