As spring approaches and my nightmares turn to yard work, I’m reminded of the time when my wife and I would start dusting off the bird feeders so that we could enjoy a few of God’s creatures that don’t poop on our floor when we welcome them to our home.
In the past, I would hang a feeder right outside our kitchen window so that we could see the beautiful variety of East Texas birds up close as they pecked at the bird seed and occasionally crashed into the window glass. It was kind of like watching NASCAR — where you pretend to be interested in the race itself but are really just waiting for a good wreck.
The last time we displayed a feeder, I had just purchased an elaborate bird feeder gazebo. It was a Trump Tower for birds, but without the barricades, film crews or Kanye West. The night after I had proudly installed the feeder, I was up late polishing off an entire sleeve of Girl Scout cookies (because I’m all about supporting the community), and I happened to glance toward the kitchen window to see the new feeder gently swaying from side to side. At first I assumed the wind was blowing, but then I noticed that something alive was actually on the feeder. I excitedly thought it might be a kindred spirit of the bird world who stays up late raiding the pantry in his underwear. Unfortunately, what I saw when I reached the window made the hair on my back stand on end. The feeder was squirming with about 600 mice. It was like Black Friday when they open the doors at Walmart and the crowds rush in for incredible sales on televisions and aerosol cheese product.
This could not stand! I wasn’t about to let a gang of greedy rodents loot my bird feeder while I stood by and ate half a box of my kids’ favorite snacks. Therefore, once I finished my milk and cookies, I sprang into action and devised a brilliant plan. The first step of my strategy involved creeping undetected up to the feeder with a large trash bag to open and raise up from underneath, enclosing both the feeder and the mice in the bag. The plan worked perfectly. I had the mice and the feeder in the bag, and I had only screamed like a little girl with an unusually high voice twice.
Unfortunately, that was also the last step in my plan. I didn’t want to throw out my bird feeder, so I had to figure out a way to separate the mice from the feeder and remove the feeder from the bag without the mice escaping justice. Naturally, I headed for the garage to get a hammer from my tool box. I had never actually used the hammer on a nail, or anything else (I think it was still in the package), but my dad would be proud that I was finally using one of the many tools he had purchased for me out of pity.
The plan at this point was to shake the mice off of the feeder down into a corner of the bag and then put the hammer to good use. Once I had a lump of mice bulging in the corner of the bag, I suddenly realized that in my mouse-squashing mania, I had forgotten to put on pants and was standing in my open garage in nothing but my boxer briefs, holding a hammer and trash bag, and sweating profusely. (For some reason, Chippendales still hasn’t called.)
To avoid scandalizing the neighborhood and possibly being arrested, I shut the garage doors. I then knelt down with my hammer, closed my eyes, prayed that the Lord would have mercy on their little vermin souls, and swung away. This is the point when I realized that the “extra-strength” designation on household trash bags does not cover pulverizing a wad of mice with a claw hammer. To my horror, on my first blow (which missed my target entirely), a massive hole opened up in the bag, and a stream of mice began leaping out into the garage. At least two used me as a flabby aircraft escape slide as they scurried up my arm and down my back on their way to freedom. Throwing caution (and suitable attire) to the wind, I raised the garage door and spent the next hour frantically running around half-nude between our cars herding out mice with an old broom. If I weren’t in East Texas, this might have seemed really weird and embarrassing.
These days, my prized bird feeder sits dusty and unused (along with my hammer) in my storage building, and I’m sure I’ve become the butt of jokes in mouse communities all over the Ark-La-Tex. I’m actually kind of glad they all got away to live their lives in the splendor of nature — to be eaten by savage predators. I just hope the birds understand that that the next time I’m tempted to hang a feeder, I think I’ll sit down for a NASCAR race and some aerosol cheese product, instead.
— Jason Graves
Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&M Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective in his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible.