At the End of the Day

Esconced as I am down here in the leaky but on the whole very cosy barn conversion, up at the Big House things still need checking: the ability of wildlife to squat one’s property is a constant process of balancing live and let live with health and safety considerations.

Mice poo in such great profusion everywhere when not chewing through pipes and wires, I am become Mayor Slog of Zero Tolerance. Squirrels, on the other hand, usually go out in search of their own food and have little interest in destruction of the water and energy fabric of human habitats. Also they crap discreetly in attic spaces, as God most assuredly intended.

This winter being the first one during which I’ve occupied the newly converted grange, the resident squirrel pair have been venturing forth into the main residence interior; and their exploration has borne fruit – or to be exact, nuts – in the shape of last year’s walnut crop in the summer den. I’m ready to accuse mice of almost anything, but not of being able to break open walnuts. The fickle finger of Dragnet is pointing inexorably towards Mr & Mrs Nutkin re this one.

Last week I saw the two of them for the first time in weeks, and I do remember thinking that they looked a tad overweight. It is of course true that squirrels are just rats with fluffy tails who sit upright and bounce everywhere rather than darting about deviously. But down here they are reds not greys, and I’m here to tell you that one’s heart warms to their antics in a way that no rat on Earth has ever come close to equalling.

Your rat carries little beyond bubonic plague, being incorrigibly idle and altogether a thoroughly bad lot. Your red squirrel, by contrast, is just the sort of chap I rather admire: I’ve seen them carrying a nut in each cheek and two under each arm. And their ability to drop this baggage as they scurry about produces new seedlings that enjoy the status of protected species – for they in turn are the natural protein factories of the future.

Anyway, the TV room needed some clearing up, having been turned into a tableau of carelessly cast shells, and nuts discarded because my cohabitants had judged them unfit for rodent consumption. It looked untidy, but was mercifully free from excrement. Among many other redeeming features, the average squirrel’s standards of hygiene make it much preferred to mice and rats on the neighbour-you’d-rather-have scale.

Meanwhile, I have a new lodger in the garden. He’s a guinea fowl, and I know not whence he came, but his completely unjustified trust in me is reminiscent of the now extinct Dodo who greeted the first humans to arrive by painting target-circles on their heads and sitting very still, the better to facilitate death by shooting.

It’s lucky for him that things have not yet turned survivalist. That, and my innate pacifism, sense of fair play, and preference for going up Lidl to buy one ready prepared.

Earlier at The Slog: The odd tale of the astonishingly quiet Rupert Turdlock

11 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. You re too old for all this Zaubermaus. Just sell up and buy some sheltered accomodation in Bloomsbury…… much more civilised fot one if your years and medical prognoses.


  2. Get a cat, get two and a couple of dogs or three. Mice don’t last long since Maggie the youngest dog arrived the closest I’ve been to a mouse is burying the corpse.


  3. phew, what a day, the feeling finally returned to my hands following severe arthritis

    blessed are the suit makers for they shall be called the children of god



  4. Pick that dog carefully – the Collie I follow covers at least twice the ground I manage. Four miles and I’m knackered, but she’s not even sweating. Self-exercising dogs are preferable


  5. Get a cat and some chickens. The chickens will love the mouse corpses and then you won’t have to bury them. Dogs are great but I think they produce more poo than mice.


  6. Combined rat and mouse bait cleans them all out in a week. The bodies tend to decompose in inaccessible places though and taints the air for a little time.s


  7. Hmmmmm…the English bloke who ripped off my parents near Brantome had a walnut grove on his land. When he wasn’t there we stole a huge basketful of them and brought them home in the tiny caravan. god I got fat that winter.


  8. ‘Morning John, yup a cat or two is the answer to the mice. We went away for a few weeks, took the cats with us and when we got back the mice had eaten most of the rod bags and ruined one cork butt!
    Moggies back, no more mice and slightly fatter cats.
    On living with the resident wildlife, the place was theirs before we came and they’ve no interest in title deeds and human vanities like that, and it’ll be theirs after we’ve gone.
    Thought for the day was brought to you by Mickie in Brittany.


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