I spent yesterday cleaning out the goat / chicken barn. I spent last weekend cleaning the kidding pen, the smaller pen used for the recovering rooster (who is now outside) and the milking parlor / feed room. The chicken coop was a bit poopy, but I just threw some wasted hay on top (and in my mind called it "the deep bedding method") and put clean shavings in the nest boxes. Not that it matters because the chickens obviously prefer the kidding pen now to lay their eggs. Go figure.
Anyways, there was just one more section of the barn to clean out. There is a seldom-opened section that has empty cages, unused chick feeders, heat lamps and minerals and oyster shell in rodent-proof containers (old popcorn tins from past holidays). I swung open the doors and was greeted by mice hurling themselves out of a huge pile of pine shavings. I had an unopened bag of pine bedding in there and the rodent bastards had made a sprawling community and nearby suburb out of it. Since there was no use in trying to save the shavings as it contained two nests of pinkies, several mummified mouse corpses as well as mouse poop galore, I just swept it out into the chicken yard and let the chickens scratch through it. Oh, and everything else in there had mouse pee on it. Mouse turds are bad enough, but mouse piss is just horrid.
I did manage to bash about a half-dozen rodent brains in and they went to the chickens along with the nest of pinkies. My chickens LOVE to eat mice and there is quite the poultry ruckus when I toss one to them. And why is it that the first chicken to get it's beak on a particularly choice chunk of food is never the one that gets to eat it? They'll quickly grab the mouse, then run around the yard with it, sometimes even slowing down a bit for the rest of the chickens to catch up. Then there's squawking and flapping and more chasing and the mouse (or other tidbit) ends up being taken from one chicken, then another, then another. Just EAT the damned thing already!
So after about two hours of cleaning (and a mild asthma attack.....why don't I wear a dust mask??) and a garbage can full of rodent-gnawed items I was finally finished.
Now I just have to keep up with the cleaning and try to reduce the rodent population. I really, really wish we could have a barn cat. Of course, Paul shoots me an evil look and threatens divorce if I bring up the idea of having a barn cat, but I really do think a feline in the barn would take care of the rodent problem. But then again, I think it would be almost impossible for me to have a barn cat. I'd be continually worried about it being outside at night (even though I could lock it in the barn in the evening) and being cold (even though I'd supply nice fluffy kitty beds & maybe even a heating pad during the winter), but most of all I'd be worried how things would work out with Susan and Evil Kitty. They are both indoor / outdoor cats (and indoor, and outdoor, and indoor, and outdoor.....) and as they occasionally venture as far as the barn, they would eventually meet the barn cat and I would be worried about a potential cat fight. And the fact that I know that Evil Kitty and Susan would tell the Barn Cat that THEY got to sleep indoors and that HE didn't get to, that I must love THEM better and why is it that they get to go inside while he suffers out in the stinky barn? Well, something like that.
So the next best thing is a mechanical mouse eradicator (or shall I say "reducer", as I'm convinced it is an impossibility to be totally rodent-free in a barn). Paul has made a bucket trap that worked well for a while, but then all of a sudden the trap would be empty for weeks. And not because there were no mice. I suppose after a while word got out that it wasn't wise for a rodent to indulge in peanut butter as it surely meant a watery death.
Then there's the old stand-by snap trap. Or the sticky traps. I won't use poison because there is just too big of a chance that one of the other animals will get into it or eat a mouse that expired because of the poison. Or maybe I'll get something like this:
In the meantime, I'll be trying to build a better mousetrap.......and hope that nobody beats a path to my door.