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Thursday, June 19, 2008

A rodent saga - a tail from last summer.

I found this post unpublished when I was going through the archives.  It is too good of a story NOT to tell, and it gives you a very good picture of what my life can sometimes be like here at Goodness Grows Farm.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, Erik always seems to come out on top in situations, and I always seem to get the short end of the stick.  The sad part is that prior to meeting Erik, I was always of the "glass half empty" attitude.  Life with him, while maybe hasn't completely made me a "glass half full" kind of girl, I'm definitely moved to a "glass 1/4 full" attitude.  

A perfect example of why I'm not a total optimist can be read below.  After reading it, I think I will have to post a couple other stories about my mishaps here at Goodness Grows Farm.  One involves living with a well - stay tuned for that one!

June 2008:
Many of you are aware that we have had a terrible problem with a specific rodent. I'm not going to name the specific species in case there are lovers of that animal, or PETA, or even the PA Game Commission in my audience. This animal species is making a HUGE mess in my attic - scattering insulation and their waste all over my storage containers. Everytime we would enter the attic, we would see these animals scurry around. It freaked me out and I would not go in the attic without Erik. This was somewhat a problem as I was needing to get up there and sort through clothing for the kids. I attempted to go up there myself one day and 4 of them crawled over my head on the ridge!

That was the last straw so I made Erik put two large rat traps up there. I knew there was at least 4 of them up there but never expected the results we had! We ended up trapping 11 in our traps! This brings our total to 12 - but let me tell you about the 12th one!

It was a Friday night. We had gotten home from supper at Bill & Shelly's. We were having a special evening with Aunt Cathie (Bill's sister from Seattle) and Jim McKinnis & his family. We had a lovely visit, the children all got along well and we had gotten our brood to bed. Erik & I were watching TV when Erik sprang out of his recliner and yelled, "I just saw a rodent!" I thought he was joking (I have long suspected they have traveled the house through the chimney, but had only one instance where it was evident). He jumped up and tried to chase it but it escaped into our laundry room. After a few minutes, Erik came out and said I was going to have to help him.

To give you a visual, our laundry/bath is small. To the right is Erik's toilet & shower, to the left is the washer & dryer in between is the walkway to the back door. Oh, did I mention that there is also tons & tons of laundry!

I made Erik wait while I located and put on sweatpants, t-shirt and his old crocs.  We head into the laundry room, brooms in hand.  The rodent is behind the toilet, Erik begins moving things and it jumps - nay, it FLIES across the room onto and behind the washing machine.  We move the washer and dryer and it crawls up the wall, across the ceiling and down the other side to hide behind the toilet again.  We re-dig the toilet out because at this point, we had moved all the dirty laundry, washer and dryer over to the toilet side of the room.  At some point, we even brought our Australian Shepherd, Maverick, into the room because he is great at catching moles, mice and rats, but the room was too small and cluttered for him to be effective.  He basically laid down on the floor and whined because he couldn't get at his prey.

Our laundry/mud/bathroom is only about 8 feet wide and only 6 feet deep?  Between the toilet and the washer there is only about 4 feet of space - we are basically sliding things back and forth to no avail.  We repeat this process several times, almost catching the dratted rodent.  On our next to last attempt, Erik almost catches it by covering his hand in a plastic grocery bag and reaching into the corner to grab it.  He is closing is fingers around it when WHOOSH - it takes off again, jumping over the dryer, flying towards my face and RUNS ACROSS MY FOOT! I scream as I see the furry creature heading towards my face and I jerk my body as I feel furry feet and small claws poke through the holes in the Crocs I am wearing.  As I jerk,  I slide out of the Croc, twisting my left foot.  At the time I thought I had hurt my ankle - I had heard a crack, felt some pain, but adrenaline must have taken over because I then grabbed the broom, found the rodent hiding in the corner behind the toilet and like a starving contestant on Survivor, my instincts took over because I speared that little rodent with my broom.  

Erik yells, "Did you get it? Did you get it?  Jennie!  Quit!  You are getting blood on my baseboard!"

Like any great hero after a bloody and long battle, I threw down my broom and limped out of the mud/laundry/bathroom into the family room to rest and tend to my wounds.    I left my trusty sidekick to clean up the stinkin' mess we made, not only with the rodent, but all of the appliances and laundry.

I started to feel my foot throbbing - it was pretty sore, but nothing I really felt anxious about.  Out of the blue, I recounted a story to Erik about a time when my childhood best friend, Keely, was visiting me one summer at my Seven Fields townhouse, and we had taken a walk.  We were going through the neighborhood and I had slipped off the edge of a sidewalk and hurt my foot.  At the time I thought nothing of it, we finished our walk, got gussied up and went out for dinner, and as I stood up after dinner to walk to the car, I could barely put weight on my foot.  Poor petite little Keely had to let me use her as a crutch as we made our way out to the car and back to my townhouse.  I crawled up the steps to the first floor, and onto the loveseat.  Keely, a chiropractor, felt my foot and said it was too swollen for her to figure out what was wrong, so she made me soak my foot in an ice bath.  I am a horrible patient, and I think Keely may have been ready to smack me in the head with the ice bucket if I asked her one more time, "Do you think I should go to the ER?"  Then crying, "I don't want to go the ER!"  The ice bath was possibly the worst experience of my life.  I had to submerge my foot in a bucket full of ice water on and off all night long.  In the morning, the foot was sore, but I could walk easily on it and there seemed to be no lasting damage.  But I never forgot that ice bath.  

It was almost like that recalling that story was a premonition.  Erik and I finally made it up to bed that night and I fell asleep pretty easily.  About an hour into my sleep, I started having weird dreams.  Then, I started getting cold (mind you, it was a HOT summer night) and restless.  I tried getting up to go to the bathroom and as I stepped down onto the floor, I knew right away that if I put weight on my foot, I would die!

Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but I couldn't put weight on my foot.  I crawled on my hands and knees into the bathroom, splashed myself with cold water and took a look at my foot - the same foot I had injured in my youth in the story that I had recounted to Erik earlier that night. It was swollen, but I couldn't really see anything else wrong with it.  I thought, I'll just go back to bed and sleep it off.  Well, after that, my foot throbbed in pain.  I couldn't sleep and all of a sudden, I was shivering so much I was shaking.  I added a fleece robe to my summer pajamas and pulled the comforter up over me.  Still no warmth.  I would fall asleep slightly and have crazy dreams and wake up, still shivering.  Finally, when my teeth were literally chattering, I woke Erik.  Erik is one of the fortunate souls that once he is asleep, he wakes for nothing.  He was a little groggy and didn't understand what was going on - I think he may have mumbled something about wearing warmer clothes to bed and turning off the AC unit in the window, but I smacked him awake by telling him I thought I may need to go to the ER because that rodent had broken my foot.  He said, "Calm down.  We're farm people and we don't go to no ER for a painin' foot.  Suck it up, Buttercup!  You're a farmer's wife now!"  

So, he really didn't say that.  Instead, I told him of my foot pain and the shivering and while not exactly super empathetic, he came with me downstairs to help me.  He did even offer to take me to the ER if that's what I thought I needed, but I told him "let's wait."   I slid down the steps on my butt (relieved that we hadn't carpeted the steps).  Erik asked what I thought I needed, I told him some Tylenol, a drink, and gulp an ICE BATH for my foot.  I dunked my foot into that ice bath all night long. Ten minutes in, 20 minutes out.   It was the second worst experience of my life.  Even worse than going through natural child birth TWICE.  Childbirth was nothing compared to forcing yourself to put your foot in FREEZING cold water and keeping it submerged.  It was complete torture.  I subjected myself to it as long as I could through the night and eventually, my chills and chattering subsided and I was able to sleep.  The next morning, my foot was sore, it was still difficult to walk on it, but it was much, much better.

So, what exactly is the moral of this story? 

Call an licensed and trained professional to take care of any rodent problem you may be experiencing.  And if you can't afford one - I am available.  I am not licensed or "trained", but as you can see, I'm highly efficient and I get results.  

Especially if threatened with the consequence of an ice bath.

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