Of mice and mess

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We have cats; ergo, we don’t have mice. At least, not for long. But there is one, mostly cat-free zone in our house: my shop.

In the 10-1/2 years we’ve lived here I’ve seen a live mouse exactly once. About six years ago I opened the shop door to find a single startled mouse right on the sill apparently contemplating slipping under the door into the house. After a couple seconds of staring at each other he disappeared into the shop, never to be seen again.

I’ve seen evidence of mouse exploration over the years: some chewed-up paper behind a shelf where I keep notebooks, the occasional mouse dropping on a clean shop floor, that sort of thing. But never any mice. I suspect they come in, look around, smell cats, and then leave. Or, alternatively, they bump into the cats and never leave, if you get my drift. But over the weekend I discovered a full-scale colonization attempt.

I haven’t milled a quantity of wood in a while. I’ve certainly used my jointer, but typically just for a quick, single pass to edge-joint something. When I do that I usually don’t even bother with the dust collector. But yesterday I needed to mill some stock, and with the DC running I couldn’t figure out why chips were flying everywhere. I pulled off the hose and dug around inside the dust port, clearing an enormous blockage in the process. In the center of the wad of chips was an obvious mouse nest.

It didn’t appear to have been occupied long and was clearly abandoned. I can only guess it had been there before hooking up my new DC system – the jointer would have been sealed otherwise – and since then all I’d done were those quick passes without turning on the DC. Why the nest had been abandoned was a mystery.

I suppose either the colonizing mice got a whiff of cats and hightailed it outside (and hopefully into my wacko neighbor’s house), or one of those times I fired up the jointer for a single pass scared them off.

Either way, I’m pleased to know my shop is vermin-free.

A.J.

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