Monday, July 29, 2013

Rodents, yard work, and kitchen clean up

If you are keeping track, please add rodents to the list of creatures that I don't like. I can't say the house is 'infested' with mice, but they've been seen about, and early into our farm ownership, I did have Ghon set some traps and we got a few in the house.

We've found dead mice in the walls. Mouse 'droppings' were all over the attic and storage room.

I don't like mice. Or rats.

Where snakes terrify me, for Ghon, it's the rat. Not much, other than the sight of human blood, creeps him out more than a rat. 

A few weeks ago, I lifted a board up off the ground outside, let out a scream (of surprise, not sheer terror like with the snake) and dropped the board. Jonathan immediately yelled "It's a rat!"  I wasn't sure if it was a rat or a mouse, but knew that sucker had a long tail. Ghon thought perhaps it was a shrew or baby opossum. I disagreed, but wasn't ready to commit to there being a rat in the yard.

Until I trapped one.

First the groundhog and chicken, then a rat. I didn't fuss with this sucker.  Jonathan was with me when I found it, and we agreed to let Daddy release it the next day when he came home from work. I wasn't as worried about it biting me as I was having it run across my feet. That's what skeeves me out - having a mouse (or rat) scurry around my feet.

Friday night Ghon released it from the trap without my knowing. Thank goodness for small miracles. I think part of him was hoping it really wasn't a rat, and that it was a shrew. No such luck, babe.

My disgust for rodents grew as Ghon approached the fire ring Friday evening. In his hands were two rolls of thoroughly shredded toilet paper. I have one drawer in the kitchen that I use to store a few things. Baby wipes to clean hands, aluminum foil, salt, pepper, Pam, a few faces masks and toilet paper.  And the freaking mice found the TP and chewed it to shreds.

I was pissed! Really? There isn't enough exposed insulation that they have to invade the drawer and find the Angel Soft? The weekend after a gazillion apple juice boxes gave Genevieve diarrhea and I used had to use most of the roll in the bathroom? We ran out of TP and I had to resort to using tissues the rest of Friday night.  This is what the drawer looked like Saturday morning.

Nothing is sacred.
I am so sick of mice and their droppings. Needless to say, when Ghon mowed the field Saturday morning and I found a dead shrew and two dead mice (thanks mower blades!), I felt no remorse. Hopefully once we live there, with a cat, they will stay out in the field. The far field. Or someone else's field.

Friday night at the farm, I relented, and we had cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner. Ghon did a little bit of mowing, and I picked up some random items to clean up. Before we left, Ghon and I took some loose chicken wire and tried to fashion a roof over the chicken run. Something, likely the raccoon was definitely getting into the pen and coop and killing the chickens. We have a few chickens that like to fly out, and think that may be how we are losing more chickens. We've been lucky for almost a week, but want to take any precautions we can to protect what few chickens we have remaining.

Our goal was to be back to the farm early on Saturday.

Goals aren't always achieved.

Late Saturday morning, the four of us made it to the farm. We had a good breakfast out, checked out Gander Mountain and Southern States for more traps, and stopped at the store to buy lunch and a few things for dinner. Ghon got right into mowing and the kids rode along with him.

First ride of the day.

Jonathan takes another turn driving the tractor.
After a few passes through the yard, I took over the mowing and Ghon worked on mowing and knocking out brush along the street. The kids rode in the back of the wagon with me as we went around and around the front yard.

Ghon and I had a weekend away last week, so no mowing was done. The grass was getting high in spots and required raking. I don't really like raking. Growing up, my parents mowed grass and I had to rake. I never liked raking. I'd rather mow, even if it's a push mower, than rake. It had to be done, and we had a couple brush rakes we let the kids use, so we got to work.
Both kids helped me rake the grass into piles.
One of them works a little harder than the other.
Genevieve treated the grass piles more like leaf piles, constantly jumping into the grass, throwing it, or laying in it. Jonathan was a great helper, working with me, rather than against me, pulling all the grass into piles.

After we finished raking, the kids and I took a lunch break on the back of Ghon's truck.
Jonathan thought Ghon's headphones looked like antlers!

Lunch break in the back of Dad's truck.
While we were out shopping in the morning, I picked up a new pair of gloves. I wanted something a little stronger, more comfortable, and it didn't hurt that they were pretty.

My new pretty and sturdier gloves!

I must have worked pretty hard though. About 4 hours into the day, I realized I had a hole in the forefinger.

Mad. Maybe halfway through the day and a hole in the fingertip!
Genevieve gets a kick out of the mail slot in the front door. She likes playing peek-a-boo through it. We made many trips to the bathroom Saturday, and each time, she wanted to say peek-a-boo before I was allowed to come out of the house.

Genevieve playing peek-a-boo in the front door mail slot.
After lunch, I tackled my project for the day while Ghon mowed the far field. Once upon a time, Ghon's father had a large rose garden on the side of the house. The large kitchen window looked out to the garden. Currently, there are two, not so hot, rose bushes and a ton of weeds and grass. The entire bed is edged with rocks that make it difficult to mow. My plan was to remove the rocks and let the kids stack them in a pile for me. We had our gloves on and were ready to work.

I pulled up two small rocks, and the kids moved them to a rock and brick pile. I tried pulling up the third rock, and it was stuck. Genevieve found a small trowel and started to dig it out.

This sucker wasn't budging. In the end, I had to get a shovel to help pry each stone out of the ground. I think my father in law cemented the rocks together. I was pulling out sections of rock that were clearly once three rocks, but were now one. It was hard work, and the kids gave up - the rocks were too big and too heavy.

What is left of a rose garden. See the rock edging? No? That's why it's tough to mow and has to go!
The kids tried to help me dig the rocks out and ended up digging in dirt.
(Which is perfectly fine with me!)

Genevieve loved finding and playing with worms.

Jonathan checking out the worm.

All of the edging rocks removed.

Removing the rocks was physically draining. Stand up and use the shovel. Down on the ground and pull out the rocks.  Back up. Back down. Repeat. The grass had been wet when we started working that morning, and we had a drizzle or very short shower a couple times during the day. My feet were soaked and so sore after the rock removal. Fortunately, during our morning stop at Gander Mountain, and Ghon and I each bought a pair of hiking sandals. Those suckers found their way to my feet quickly after the digging was complete. My socks were soaked. My feet were a wrinkly mess. Yuck.

After changing my shoes, I trimmed back tall grass by the house, along the driveway and along the front walkway. When I couldn't feel my hands any longer, I set out with Genevieve to help Ghon and Jonathan. They were working on mowing another section of the field, and were taking the grass piles to a new compost pile. With the rake in my hand, it was back to work, moving my way down the hill to make grass piles for the boys to take to compost.

Genevieve chose this time to sit in the damp grass and take off her shoes and socks. Like mine, her feet were also wet and achy.I tried to get as much grass off her as I could and told Ghon I might need to leave soon with her. Then Jonathan started complaining about his feet and we realized it was already 7pm! Time flies when you are having fun! 

I tried to get the kids settled by the fire for a bit so we could feed the chickens and get home. No dinner on the grill that night!

Selfie with my little tomboy.

Drying out his feet at the end of a long, hard day of work.
Sunday, Ghon had to work in the morning. The kids, Pop, and I did our usual 4th Sunday pancake breakfast at the firehouse then grocery shopping. After finishing up laundry and vacuuming at home, the kids and I headed to the farm for 'inside work."

Jonathan provides a great conscience when it comes to working on the house. There is so much outside work to be done, so much grass to be mowed, there hasn't been a lot of work going on in the inside. He is always asking when we will do inside work - he knows that finishing inside work brings us closer to finishing the house.

I set the kids up with a DVD player upstairs in their safe room and got to work in the kitchen. First step was to move the cabinets out of the kitchen. Then I sorted random tools, tossed trash, and started vacuuming the dead bugs off the counters.
The top side of a Clorox wipe - after one sweep across the counter!
After the counters were wiped down, I did a quick vacuum of the floor, then rewashed the counters with soap and water. The little Clorox wipes weren't cutting it. The kitchen looks so much better now. Of course, Ghon informed me that if it rained Monday, rather than doing outside work, he would tear out more cabinets. Sigh. 
Before across the top, bottom after I was finished cleaning.

Since we had food at the farm for Saturday night but didn't use it, I grilled chicken for dinner and tossed corn in the fire pit. Ghon toured the garden and checked on the corn. Looks like the silver queen is ready! Now we need to get ready to harvest it!

Corn from our garden!

Using chicken bones from tonight's dinner as bait, Ghon rigged up an old leg trap between the garden and chicken coop. We've seen coyote footprints in the garden; another potential chicken killer. Ghon successfully hunted a coyote two years ago, so we know they have been around. Now we have three live cage traps and the leg trap set.

Before heading home for the night, we took a walk around the orchard. Ghon restrung sections of fishing line that the deer knocked down, but for the most part, it does seem to be detering them from the trees. We hung small windchimes that I picked up from the Dollar Tree around the fishing line fence. Hopefully, if the deer do bump into a line, the combination of not seeing the line and the sound of the chime will spook them enough to leave.

While walking around, Ghon found this huge moth. The Luna Moth is apparently somewhat rare, so it was pretty cool to be able to see one up close.

Actias luna - Luna Moth

That was the weekend. Lots of yard work and more to go. I wasn't able to get all of the rocks moved from around the old rose garden, so I need to work on that this weekend. There is still more yard to mow. I wear a pedometer and logged more than 20K steps on Saturday and over 12K on Sunday. I was so sore on Sunday, and my feet are still complaining about being stuffed into wet sneakers for so long Saturday. Oh well, what other option is there?

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