*This is not a winter tale for those who find mouse stories just too shivery and shuddery. Rats make a brief appearance (for Hallowe’en’s sake?).
This is one of many tales from life on Lower Eye Road Farm. Quite an amazing place. A transitory space. Now a vineyard and winery. To everything, there is a season . . .
Winter on Lower Eye Road Farm. Snowed-in world of eagles, ravens. Frost gardens on window panes. Birds as apple blossoms on cold branches. Tracks in the snow.
Tiny house on stone foundation and dug-out cellar. Night whisperings and toe-nail graffiti. Horror of death trap discoveries. Steel wool, chicken coop mesh, concrete, plaster closing rat portals.
Constructing live traps. List: springs from ball point pens; dismantled slap-trap; old pet creature cages; scrap wood; chicken wire.
Listen for capture snap. With flashlight held as weapon, creep down ship’s ladder stairs. No rats squeal awaiting.
Tiny prisoner in well-proportioned cage with pb and bottle top of water. Reassuring cadence during visitor’s hours. Catch and release across creek.
Fall blew through dooryard one particular year, scurrying leaves, migrating geese, and the old chicken-coop roof before it. “Farmer Vic” and his boys beat the wind in destruction game. Gone: coop, lazily-leaning feed shed, and several rottenly side by each apple bins. Piles of freshly broken boards and rusted nails. Memories from days when Farm was more than a name.
Homeless seek shelter in deepened bitterness of snow-less winter. With a daub of non-toxic colour behind each ear as marker, realized recapturing same individuals. Travelled amazing distances in snow-blind world to spring trap, and be back in winter’s haven. Search for warmth, safety, comfort found in old dug-out basement. Decision to give sanctuary easy. These tiny deer and white-footed mice deserved a reward for perseverance and self-preservation.
Built a complex for the dispossessed, the displaced in the cellar. Apartments. Common rooms. Playgrounds. Walk-ways. Tube tunnels. Modified pet store equipment to suit needs of spa residents.
Micro-study of tribal behaviour. Supervised after released into community. Factions became apparent and separation of warring gangs a necessity.
As snow drifted higher against the windows, and wind whited out world a few feet beyond, our colonies thrived. We struggle with the storm; they shelter from it.
When slant of sun and calendar promise heralded spring’s broom soon to sweep dooryard free, guests occupying suites in entry hall.
Visitor’s comment: “Neat. Hamsters.”
Cellar hamsters. Unique to Lower Eye Road Farm.
Warming spring mornings, cellar hamsters went for drives. Idyll locations chosen for relocation. Once cage door open, no fast dash to freedom. Sniffing air. Surveying the mouse-scape. As long as an hour to finally skitter out and on to new adventures.
Caught and released for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver #37: Pet Story