Thursday, July 15, 2021

Mouse-agedon and the Tale of Rambo Mouse


We love living in the country. The solitude and beauty is all around us. We love looking out our windows and seeing an abundance of wildlife. Deer, eagle, fox, raccoons, tree frogs and yes, even different types of bugs, especially the moths, that we never knew we had. Like everything good, there are trade offs. 

The mosquitos are not that bad this year due to a drought. The deer flies and horse flies I hate with a vengeance. I keep asking myself, "Dear baby Jesus, what is the purpose of these biting flies?" These flies love to just buzz around your head and then when you feel them land on your head, you instinctively swat at them, hitting nothing but your head. I then imagine the flies laughing at me and saying "Why do you keep hitting yourself?"

But the real reason why I wanted to share our (my) exploits is the mouse problem we have out in the wilderness. Granted, we cut out our homestead in the forest that used to be theirs and I honestly thought that we could all live harmoniously, hand in little hand. But NNNNNOOOOOOO! They couldn't stay out of our area. NNNNNNOOOOO! They just had to keep encroaching upon us. Wrecking our stuff with their ever nonstop chewing on things. I have on numerous occasions brought my ATV's into the shop because they broke down. Only to find mice have made homes inside them and chewed through wires. Built nests in air filters. It goes on and on. My sons camper had a water leak under the shower. So I tore it apart to find that mice have chewed through the drain pipe.

So I have officially declared war on the mouse population around us. I have set out a trap line that I check every day. I find that the old fashioned spring loaded trap works the best. I just put a little peanut butter on it and the mice love it. You know immediately if you have a mouse or not and they kill quickly. My trap line consists of 1 trap in the barn, 2 traps in the fifthwheel, 1 trap in the pickup camper and one trap in my sons camper. In the past couple of weeks I have trapped 10 mice now in those areas. I don't know how they are getting in the campers, but they are. The score is 10 and 1.

Which now brings me to the story of Rambo mouse. I set a trap in my sons camper and in the morning I checked it as always. Only there was no trap where I left it. It was gone. So as I am looking around I spot it behind the toilet and there is a mouse still attached to it. It came down on his front paw. That's never happened before. So I go out and get a 5 gallon bucket and my reacher thingy. I grab the trap and lift the trap and a very angry mouse and put it into the bucket. I then put that bucket into the Ranger and grab my 22 revolver to humanely put down the mouse, away from the house.

We have a clearing back in the woods. So I wanted to take the mouse out there. We were going to have a showdown, Clint Eastwood style(cue the music). To be fair I put one arm behind my back because the mouse still had the trap on his leg. So I dumped the mouse out of the bucket and stepped back. I lined up my shot and POW! I missed the mouse and hit the trap, breaking it. It took only a second until the mouse realized it was free and when it did, it's eyes became RED and it let out a tremendous ROAR and charged!

Now I have read accounts of men in battle. Your vision becomes blurry and things go into slow motion. The facts can get misconstrued. One thing is for sure though. I swear I heard a little girl screaming, just as clear as if she was standing next to me.

The mouse charged! POW! POW! POW! It kept coming and coming! Jumping this way and that way. It was like a crazed Ninja on steroids. POW! It's coming right for me. (Little girl screaming in the woods). POW! In desperation I kicked at it and missed. I jumped out of its path at the last minute. It was like a charging rhino. It then ran under the Ranger so I jumped in it and backed it up. As I was distracted the mouse saw it's chance to escape. It saw the tree line and made a break for it. I jumped out of the Ranger, guns ablazing. POW,POW,POW! I missed. The mouse got away. I looked around me for the little girl but saw no one. With all of the dignity I could muster, I saluted my worthy adversary, did an about face, and got the heck out of there. Hoping that some time in the future a mutant 3 legged mouse doesn't come knocking on my door looking for revenge.

I know that you are thinking that I made this little tale up for your amusement. Believe me, I didn't. It's the honest truth. I can hear you thinking, "You took nine shots. Isn't that a six shooter?" I have a 9 shot revolver. The real lesson here is not to take prisoners, and if you do, bring a shotgun.

So now the war on mousedom has escalated. I have researched and researched on how to build a better mousetrap. I built a bucket trap. Easy, affordable and according to the buzz on the internet where everything is true, it catches mice like crazy. 

Start with a 5 gallon bucket. Drill 2 holes through it so that you can put a metal rod across the top. $3 dollars at home depot.
Take a plastic bottle and drill a hole in the cap and the bottom so that the metal rod goes through it. Make the hole a little bit larger than the rod so that the bottle spins freely. When the time comes, you will smear peanut butter all over that bottle.
Then attach some wood ramps so that the little critters can make it to the top. Here I engineered it a little bit differently. I offset the ramps so that the mice can see and smell the peanut butter but can't reach it unless they take a leap of faith. Once they do, they will be quickly dispatched to Davey Jones' locker. Because in the bottom of the bucket you put a couple of inches of water in it. The mice hit the spinning bottle and fall into the water and quickly drown. I know. It's a cruel world. I knew we had a mouse by our wood pile so I set the trap up near it and then checked it in the morning.
It worked. One less mouse that did not get in the house or campers. I know of a spot with lots of mice so I will be testing the trap there next. The only good mouse is a dead mouse. Another motto to live by.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


 Rumor has it that we ventured out of our super secret undisclosed location. Well the rumors are true. I can say that now because we are locked up inside our super secret undisclosed location, safely ensconced behind the safety of our walls and moat.

Very similar to the one pictured here.  That's not actually our fortress of isolation but a close facsimile.

Our daughter called us up and wanted to go on a vacation with us. (Isn't that sweet?) So we agreed, and quite frankly we needed a little break from our fortress. Not having been anywhere now for over a year. (Thank you Covid.) She wanted to go to the North Shore of Lake Superior. We love going there and it has been a few years since we were there so we made plans to head that way. Luck would have it that when we would be there, it was during the dreaded heat wave of June 2021. It is always cooler around the lake and that felt great.

We loaded up the fifthwheel, which is strange to admit. We used to live in it fulltime and everything we could possible need has always been inside it. But now living in the cabin, we had to actually think about what we would need and then pack accordingly. Just one of the trade offs for not being fulltimers now.

Our first stop was going to be Duluth for a couple of days. From there we could do our exploring. Most of the state parks along the North Shore are not big rig friendly, and even if they were, it is virtually impossible to get a reservation in them because they book out a year in advance. (Thanks Minnesota for  going to a reservation system.)

Our first obstacle to get over was going to be our driveway. Yep our driveway. We have only traveled 300 yards and we have obstacles.
It is steeper and longer than it looks. Especially with a 16,000 pound forty foot camper behind you. That was the first time we ever went down the driveway but now that we have done it once it will be no problem. I just don't want to do it when there is snow and ice on the ground. The next obstacle was getting used to pulling that thing around again. It has been almost a year since I pulled it before and almost 2 years since we have gone farther than 25 miles in it. 

To make a short story long, we made it to our campground outside of Duluth.
It was a nice shaded spot to relax in. The only downside is that when you sit outside, the gnats will feast on you the entire time. So bugspray is a must. But duh! This is Minnesota. Land of 10,000 lakes, taxes and the occasional mosquito the size of hummingbirds.

The first thing on the agenda was to drive along the North Shore. The day was perfect. Sunny, mid 70's and no wind. Which is rare to see a lake the size of Lake Superior without a wave on it. I have never seen it so calm before.
It was a beautiful day for a drive. We stopped many times along the way for photos so I will shut up here so you can look at the pictures.
Seagulls on a rock. It was hard to tell where the water ended and the sky began.
Freighter heading into Duluth.
Is that ship flying?
My ship has come in.
Two Harbors.
These freighters can be over a thousand feet long.
Two Harbors lighthouse.
Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park.
Black sand beach.
Mother, daughter time on Gichi-Gumi.
One of the many harbors along the way.
The water was very clear.
Our final destination, Grand Marais.

We couldn't have asked for a better day. Next up is Glensheen mansion and Duluth Harbor.

Kendra wanted to see the Glensheen Mansion on the shores of Lake Superior. This is a 20,000 square foot mansion with 39 rooms. It was beautiful and amazing. There was a staff of 13 people that lived in the mansion, just to take care of the Cogden family. I can't imagine what it would be like to live like that. If it was just  Lisa and I, it would be impossible just to keep it clean. I guess we will stick to our cabin.
The front of this shack.
Looking down a hallway as you enter. The wood work was incredible.
A small portion of the main living room. It was too big to get it all in one picture.
The main staircase to the second level.
One of the many bedrooms. Also much larger than I could film.
The breakfast nook. This is my favorite with the greens and stained glass windows.
Basement hallway.
Lower level family room.
The back terrace overlooking Lake Superior.
Looking back at the back of the mansion.
The boat house.

Looking back at the pictures, I realized that I missed taking pictures of so much more. Our tour went through the main level, second story and the basement. There was also a third floor but that was in a different tour. We saw the servants quarters, kitchen areas, carriage house, gardens and the gardeners house. If you are in Duluth, it is well worth the money to tour this mansion.

You can't visit Duluth without going downtown and see the infamous aerial lift bridge. Luck would have it that when we were down there to to see the lift bridge a 1000 foot freighter was passing through.
The lift bridge

Here comes the freighter!
It's getting closer!
This ship is so long I had to break up the video into 2 segments. I hope your sound was on.
There is not a lot of wiggle room for these ships that size.

As I re-watched those videos, I realized that my dead finger got in the way a little bit. Sorry for that and because of that I fear I shall not win an emmy for that. Well that is it for Duluth. On to Hayward, Wisconsin.
Hayward, Wisconsin? Hayward was kind of a last minute thing for us. We originally planned on camping in Grand Portage but when the campground finally returned our phone calls (plural), all they could tell us is that they were booked full because of the road construction project there. (They couldn't tell us that months ago? Sheesh!)

Camping at the KOA!

We rarely stay at a KOA. Mainly because of the price, but when you are scrambling at the last minute, you take what you can get. I have always felt that KOA's can not justify their prices. $65 a night? I will have to say that this is one of the few that can. They have so many things here for kids to do. We got there Wednesday and there were maybe a dozen campers there. By Friday it was packed. Kids running everywhere and the adults were chasing them around with beer in hand. We were glad to leave Saturday morning.

The only thing worth mentioning that we did in the area was to drive to Bayfield, WI and take the ferry to Madeline Island. I would suggest not to go there until the weekend though. Most of the few stores and restaurants they have there don't open until the weekend. So it was a bust for us. The few places that were open, the staff was very rude, like we were a bothering them for shopping in their stores. So the ferry was the highlight of the trip.
The ferry.

The ferry is a car ferry and they have a state park on the island. If you want to camp there they can accommodate large rigs. On one such ferry we saw had a fifthwheel going across.
A nice day to ride the ferry.

That is basically it for our little outing. It was nice to get out and act normal again. Just like the good ole' days of 2 years ago.

Our cabin work has slowed down now. We have been working on some outside projects. Lisa is busy, busy, busy.
Our yard this spring.
Lisa has been busy growing grass.
Some landscaping.
More landscaping.
And more landscaping. Our back patio.

We still need to work on the grass back there. All in due time.

The best for last. My finger update. I have quit physical therapy because there wasn't any improvements. Just a lot of pain. I am still waiting to get into the Mayo Clinic. I was supposed to go June 23rd but they rescheduled me to July 28th now. (I guess the doctor had a golf game he couldn't get out of or something.) 
Lisa tells me that after dealing with this damn finger for going on 9 months now, that it is making me crabby. I don't believe it. I am super jovial all of the time, and if you don't think that is true then, as my mother would say "I will stick this finger where the sun doesn't shine."

So Nameste'.

Monday, May 10, 2021


 When we last left our intrepid explorers, they were very busy cleaning out their barn so that it could be insulated with spray foam. A daring feat by any means, not to be taken lightly. Carefully removing piece by piece the treasures from within. Trying not to disturb the vile evilness that lurks inside.

I'm sorry. I tried to make cleaning out the barn sound exciting but in reality, it wasn't. We got it done though and we were ready for the spray foam company to come in and do their thing.

We removed everything except for our refrigerator and freezer and a pile of wood along the wall that wasn't going to be foamed. They will just have to work around those. We originally planned on just doing the ceiling but changed our minds once we started clearing things out. We didn't want to have to do it again so we bit the bullet and did it all at once.
If you notice closely, all of our house wrap is right side up. Not upside down like other people we know.

Just a couple of before pictures. The foam company came in with 2 foam trucks and 2 foam crews and foamed the entire barn in one day which was awesome. They originally planned on 2 days with one crew so that worked out great.

They sprayed 3 inches of foam everywhere. They did an excellent job. Now before we started to haul everything back in, I wanted to put up some peg board along the back wall. I also wanted to organize things better than before.

With the walls foamed now, there was nothing to nail the peg board to. So I ran stringers across the main beams and then nailed the peg board to them. Adapt, improvise and overcome. One of the many mottos I live by.

It went along very well. So much so that we decided to finish the other walls like that also. It was a good idea because we didn't want to have to take out a loan and finish the inside with plywood or OSB. The peg board was $14.99 a sheet versus $40.00 for 7/16th inch OSB. That is just crazy the way lumber prices have skyrocketed.

With that project done, we could move everything back in. I may have to put something up above the peg board later on. But for now, it is fine. It is time to get some outdoor projects done. 

Our property has been overgrown with prickly ash and sumac. So if anyone has some spare time and wants to cut brush, feel free. I had a pull behind brush cutter that turned out to be the biggest piece of poo poo I have ever seen. It quit working over a year ago and the place I was taking it to get fixed told me they didn't want to see it again.
So if you plan on buying this type of brush mower don't. Save the $1800.00 dollars for something better. So with my mower down, we rented a walk behind brush cutter. It was called the "Billy Goat". Aptly named because this thing went through everything that was in front of it.
Here I am about to tackle this area of prickly ash and sumac.
And this is the area after the Billy Goat got done with it. It will cut down anything that it can mow over. If the tree is too big you will know because it just wants to climb it. We took turns cutting. Here is Lisa doing a fine job of it.
Now when ever I post pictures like that, everyone always says, "Oh, all we see is Lisa doing all of the work". 
So now you can see that I too did some brush cutting. Even while handicapped. After 6 to 7 hours of us cutting we were able to clear a nice size area.
We have lots of acreage to do but for now we are done with that for awhile. It was a lot of hard work and we think we will just rent it once a year and just keep clearing all of the ash and sumac. Another project on the to do list was our downspout on the cabin. Whenever it rains, it washes the dirt away.
It has rained a lot this spring. So we wanted to try and prevent that so Lisa made a trench for the water to follow and then filled it with rock.

Our hopes are that the water will just continue to follow that same course. We planted grass seed there but it just washes away.

Now the news everyone has been waiting for. My finger. It is still as painful as ever. I have been going to therapy 2 times a week just to have them bend and mangle it which makes it hurt even more. With no real progress being made at all. So I have cut down to once a week of excruciating pain sessions. I have been in contact with the Mayo clinic in Rochester to see if they will look at it. If I could cross that finger for luck, I would. Personally, I am leaning more and more to just cutting it off and moving on to more of a normal life. This thing is so irritating and frustrating that I can hardly stand it.

The beginning of May was a very big week for holidays and special occasions for us. We had "May the fourth", otherwise known as Star Wars day. Lisa dressed up like Princess Leia. I was a Wookie. Then the next day was Cinco de Mayo. Endless fajitas for us. Then the big day. We had another anniversary! I beat the odds in Vegas. 32 years. I smothered Lisa with cards and flowers.

There were also plenty of balloons involved.
After 32 years of marriage, Lisa has finally figured out what I like best.
This is a real life 30 pack! Imported from Fargo. You can't buy 30 packs here where we live for some reason. Only 24 packs. Funhaters. And finally Mother's day was on Sunday. She feels spoiled after all of the attention I gave her.

That's it for now. Our next big projects will be asphalt on the driveway and a patio out back.