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Thursday, July 11, 2024
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Building the better “mouse trap”

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When you look at the title of this story and then glance over at the picture of the trap, you must be saying to yourselves, “That’s no mouse trap!” Well, this is about an animal trap. But it is also in line with that old metaphor, “Building a better mouse trap.” It has been the American way, to use ingenuity to tackle the problems we face. It (in my opinion) goes hand in hand with the old quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” to which I often add a “Steve-ism,” “If necessity is the mother of invention, then laziness must be the father,” (where I may often add, “hence the Lazy Boy recliners”)!

Living on the edge of a wood line and owning a “micro-ranch” has its good and bad points. We love the beauty of the trees and enjoy the privacy it affords us. But keeping our hens safe (and not supplying a free dinner to the varmints) has been a constant challenge. I did a story a while back titled “A 2nd Amendment Saturday” which was based on my wife having to go after a big opossum (that was going after our “girls”). Now, we try not to kill the neighboring wildlife (for the most part) but only pull out the “hardware” when absolutely necessary. I have had to invest in several live traps, and they get used every year. We have trapped critters from as small as a field mouse to a 400-plus-pound wild boar (and don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the many critters that have come our way).

This time around, we had been dealing with a run of three invaders (actually, four). There were two opossums, one cat, and a crafty raccoon! The first ‘possum was no problem (regarding the method of entrapment). We just baited the live trap, and the next morning, it produced the expected result. The raccoon was a different story. It terrorized our hens and evaded me every time I tried to “sight in” on it. The medium-sized trap was loaded with goodies, but the animal figured out how to spring the door of the trap first, then reach in through the back wire gridding and steal the food. I likened it to someone shaking a vending machine, trying to work loose the food!

I finally got the idea of adding a revision to the trap. I took a 5-inch medicine bottle and drilled about 20 holes all around it. Then I placed a small piece of plywood under the trap and just past the trip plate (inside of it). I then screwed the plastic bottle cap to the wood and strung some heavy string across the cage from one side to the other. The end of that string was then brought outside of the cage and attached to the main bar that sets the door release. After placing some very good-smelling homemade bread, (covered in beef gravy) inside of the bottle and then screwing that bottle onto the anchored trap floor, I set it next to the main hen house. As an added measure, I placed cement blocks on either side of the trap and a chunk of 10-inch by 10-inch by 12-inch wood on top. This made it impossible for the varmint to shake the door shut and reach in and steal a meal. The next morning, we had a captive audience, and he was NOT a happy camper!

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One of the other nice things about living in this county is that there are literally miles of back roads and wooded areas (for which to relocate our visitors). The next night heard more commotion in the hen house area, so again, the trap was set (this time with cut-up banana and apple peels). I have got to say that placing the bait inside of a bottle (inside of the trap) was producing results a lot quicker than without (the bottle). Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in between the 1st ‘possum and the raccoon was a big tabby cat! I guess that the beef gravy and fresh bread were too much of a temptation for it!

I remember some of the board games that we had, growing up down in Ft. Lauderdale, and the “Mousetrap” game was one of my favorites (the mechanics of it amazed me). And for a time, we had woods and swampland alongside our property. I would lay awake at night and listen to the noises coming out from that area (as we had no A/C back then, and the windows were always open). It’s funny how the little things you retain from your youth come into play later in life! Y’all have a blessed week!

Steven Goodwin
Steven Goodwin
Steve Goodwin is a recently retired Christian conservative veteran (of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division), who still feels that "duty to country" did not end when the military uniform got hung up. He and his wife Cecelia live on the edge of a beautifully wooded tract of land just south of the bypass, and are involved in not only church activities, but also attend school board meetings and local community action events as well.
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