Last night I couldn’t sleep. For hours I lay in bed with terrible visions of mice chewing holes through the walls and destroying my house. And my sanity. For days I have heard the telltale scratching sounds coming from the attic. Then I heard louder chewing and scratching sounds coming from the wall.
And then this morning I saw a hole in the wall.
The rodent got through.
There is this romantic idea that urban dwellers have about coming back to the land to get dirty with nature. That somehow because life is slower in a rural place it is implicitly more authentic. The truth is that the homesteading experience is rife with all kinds of problems that will make your brain itch at 3:30am as mine did last night.
Everywhere I look nature is trying to take me out. On our four acres of rural property, we have every kind of vermin known to Maine ruining our efforts to get anything done. Mice are constantly trying to chew their way into our old house. Invasive insects have killed three Scotch Pines and a Tulip tree. A fox has twice killed off our chickens. A Great Horned Owl tried to fly off with our barn cat (a story for another time), and a family of voles dug up the front yard to live in golf ball sized tunnels. The final insult? A skunk took up residence under my front porch and has sprayed our dogs with impressive aim on several occasions.
This spring as the snow melted and the ground revealed itself we were horrified to see that rodents had chewed through the roots of our hostas. Still more unsettling are the runs we found leading from the zig zagging paths in the field behind our house to our ancient field stone basement where we are certain that generations of wild beasts have been setting up camp.
During the weekends we spend an inordinate amount of time, money, and energy trying to keep our gardens free of pests, the compost free of rats, and our house free of anything that could be described as “infestation” by a professional. It is exhausting.
From pulling weeds to setting traps, homesteading is sometimes an unpleasant and dirty experience that doesn’t resemble the clean and chic ideas that so often advertise the hip trend of going rural.
We caught the mouse that bore a hole through our wall. All is fine for now on the homestead…except that I am pretty sure I can hear a faint sound of scratching.