Peaceable Man Files Issue #8: Man vs. Mouse in the Battle for the Internet
Random musings on my gypsy existence at my cabin in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and wherever else the road takes me.
I had a fresh reminder recently that we share this earth with all creatures great and small, and that our shared interests sometimes conflict, and when that happens, the interests of humans take precedence.
I was heading up to the mountain house last week with a couple bluebird nesting boxes in the back of my truck. As part of my newfound interest in birding, I’m learning that there’s a plentitude of bird species that inhabit the woods and meadows around my cabin, including bluebirds, which breed in the northern states. I love seeing the brilliant bluebirds flitting out in the fields along with the red-winged blackbirds and finches. Why not post a couple boxes in the meadow and give them a place to nest?
Anyway, I got to the cabin late one evening, looking forward to working on the nesting boxes, when immediately I had a problem. My Internet was offline.
This happens now and then at the cabin. A storm moves through, knocks out the power, and the router goes down. I tried rebooting the router, but it didn’t bring it back online, so I went down into the basement and tried rebooting the cable modem.
That didn’t work either, and so, having exhausted my limited understanding of technology, I went to bed and first thing in the morning gave a call to the local cable company. The help-desk person there was unable to diagnose the problem over the phone and told me they’d have to send someone out.
It took all day for the guy to show up. After confirming there was a live cable source to the house, the technician, a nice fellow by the name of Chad, went down into the basement and checked the modem.
There he found the issue: one of the cable wires had been chewed in half where it came into the house at the base of the floor joists.
“Looks like you have a mouse problem,” Chad said.
The field mice were bad this year, he related. He was seeing the problem especially at newer houses like mine that had been built in what once were open fields. The mice still think the field was theirs to roam, Chad said, and they were not easy to get rid of. He installed a new cable line and suggested I put out some mouse bait boxes and do it soon, because if the mice were eating the cable wire, they could also be chewing on those 220-volt electric lines coming into the house.
Now, I really don’t like the idea of poisoning anything, whether animals or plants, and so first I tried setting out a couple mouse traps baited with peanut butter. Within an hour, I heard a telltale snap and went down into the basement to find a dead field mouse in the trap. Sorry, buddy, I thought, but you cannot be in my home.
I went to bed that night confident the problem was solved, but in the morning, I went to connect to Spotify to put on classical music and saw I had no Internet again. After going the whole process of rebooting the router, to no avail, I went back down into the basement and checked out the wire the technician had installed the day before.
It was chewed in half—again.
This was not just one nuisance mouse. This was a family of field mice, and they really did not want me to have Internet service.
Annoyed now, I called the cable provider and waited for Chad again. When he arrived at the end of the day, he encased the new cable wire in a piece of plastic conduit where it came through the foundation into the basement. Hopefully, that would keep the mice from getting to the wire, he said.
That night, I watched a couple shows on Netflix and went to bed. In the morning, I awoke and you guessed it … no Internet.
Down in the basement, I found another chewed-through cable wire right at the point where it came out of the plastic conduit. Meanwhile, the peanut butter-baited mouse traps were untouched.
Son of a gun!
Okay, this was war. I placed yet another call to the cable provider, got in the truck, and drove to the local hardware store. There, I bought a pack of mice poison bait boxes as well as ten feet of heavy-duty plastic tubing. Back at the house, I set out the bait boxes at strategic spots in the basement and spent another Internet-less day waiting for the technician to show up.
It was not Chad this time but a different guy by the name of Dave. Using the tubing I’d bought, Dave ran the cable wire through the full length of the tube, all the way down to the modem.
The cable line had been officially mouse-proofed.
At this point, I needed to drive back home for a family event. When I came back to the cabin a few days later, I had Internet—yah!
Down in the basement, I found a mouse graveyard. There were four of them lying dead on the floor from the bait boxes. The tube-encased cable wires were untouched.
I had won the Mouse War—for now, at least. I buried the dead mice in the field, feeling a little bad about it—they are kind of cute—but knowing it had to be done.
When it comes to nature, we human beings are both conquerors and nurturers. The trick is finding that balance between the interests of humans and our fellow creatures. We have our homes and they have theirs, but we all share a common home, and that is earth.
Now, it’s back to those bluebird nesting boxes.