Mice in the Garage, DYI Live Traps

When I went into the garage, at times I could hear slight noises. It almost was the sound of dried leaves rustling. Because it is windy here, I was thinking it was the air movement through the garage, as it is not sealed due to the garage door. Over time the sounds became more frequent. I determined there were mice taking up residence in the garage.

I went to one of the greatest how-to sources in the world (YouTube) and searched for, “DYI Mouse Traps”. There are so many people with videos it was almost overwhelming. I modified the search to, “DYI Live Mouse Traps”. This brought it down to a reasonable amount. I started watching videos only to find some of the YouTube creators have their own Mouse Trap channels!

This was certainly better than any television, and the creativity was certainly inspiring. I was confident that in a few days, I would have built a trap, caught the mice and been done with everything mouse related. Little did I know. It appears, eight the Mice here are a lot smarter than some of the Mice the video creators were using.

Watch some videos video and watch the mice almost run to get into the trap. I suppose if they were hungry enough they would almost run to food, knowing they would be let go shortly. The mice here did not appear to be so desperate. I built a simple bottle trap, put some sunflower seeds in and waited. Days gone by and no mice. I decided, the Mice didn’t like the smell of the bottle, so I made a second trap out of a plastic milk bottle. Now with two traps, surely something would happen.

Day one led to day two, which led to week one. I guess the Mice were not that excited about sunflower seeds. I then added peanut butter. Rinse and repeat. Oatmeal must be the key. In went the oatmeal in both traps. No Mice. I wasn’t catching or seeing any mice, so I thought it was my imagination. After looking over the more protected shelve areas, the evidence appeared. Mouse droppings.

Easy to Make Mouse Bottle Traps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some droppings were near the bottles, but they did not have any interest in the buffet. I watched more YouTube videos. DYI Live Traps run the gamut from simpler than the Bottle Trap, to quite sophisticated. They all seemed to be using peanut butter, and having good results – they caught mice.

I came across two older videos which was only a minute or so long. I wish I had saved them, so I could give it a call out. The first was a trap with a cake pan and a L shaped piece of wire. The wire held the cake pan up on one side. The other end of the wire held some bait, once again peanut butter (I think). The second video was shorter than the first, and it was a Man who seemed to be having the same problem I was having, empty traps.

He said, someone told him the secret was using chocolate for bait. He said Mice could not resist chocolate, and went crazy for it. What did I have to lose? I found a large pan in the garage. It was a monster, about eleven inches around, heavy aluminum. I also found part of an old coat hanger.

I made the coat hanger into a very relaxed and modified L shape. It was short on the small leg, and longer on the tall leg. I doubled over the end to have a spot for peanut butter and sunflower seed. Every day the peanut butter and seed were gone, but the pan did not drop. I did not understand this at first, as it was very hard to balance the pan and get it to stand correctly.

The pan is very heavy and mice are very light! How obvious now. It would take a mouse the size of a squirrel to trip the trigger and make the pan fall. I looked for a lighter pan, and found a bread load pan. I made a new trigger from lighter wire, and put more of U shape in it. At the bait end, I doubled it over and put a small sliver of wood to hold more bait.

I used chocolate syrup and sunflower seeds for bait. The syrup was not viscous enough to hold the seed, and it fell off. Well, a little peanut butter wouldn’t hurt. Changing to a lighter bread pan and using chocolate syrup was the magic combination. The Mice could not resist.

Easy and Effective Mouse Trap

I thought there were perhaps two Mice in the garage. The first day, I caught two Mice. The second day, I caught two more. It seems Mice can hide their presence well. Going into the garage, I can hear slight noise from two different places, so I am expecting to catch at least two more mice.

I am using old cat litter buckets with lids to put the captured mice in. When the pan is flat on the shelve, it is time to move the captured Mouse from the pan to the bucket. I place the un-covered bucket in a large trash can to prevent escapes. I then slide a heavy piece of cardboard (about three-quarters of the size of the top of the bucket) under the bread pan without allowing any space between the cardboard and pan.

Placing the bread pan and cardboard into the litter bucket, I tilt the far side of the pan and cardboard down into the bucket. I then lift the pan and listen to the mouse scratching trying to remain on the card board – which is a losing battle. After a second or two the mouse falls to the bottom of the bucket, runs for cover under the crumpled newspaper without any thought of jumping out. Now I simply slide the bucket lid back into place.

One of the videos I watched said Mice are very good at finding their way home, and need to be let go at least one-half mile away from where they were caught. There is a park about that far away with shrubs and such, that looks like like good mouse habitat, so that is where I let them go. I lay the bucket sideways on the ground, remove the lid, and tap the bottom of the bucket. If that doesn’t work, I carefully reach in and pull back the newspaper. As soon as they see daylight, they run a little slower than the speed of light for cover.

One Mouse Trap maker on YouTube thinks these Mice rarely survive in a new habitat. I like to think, at least they have a chances and if they do not survive, they contribute to the food chain, which is probably what would have happened if they were living outside to start with.

Get Rid of Ants Outside Your Home Safely

Unless you want your yard turned into a hazardous waste site, your choices for getting rid of Ants completely is quite limited.

If you dig Ants up and throw the dirt somewhere else, they build their nest in the new spot. If you stir the dirt up and leave it in place, they frantically work to rebuild their nest. If you spray the nest with insecticide, within three days (or less), a new hatch happens, and the Ants go about their business as if nothing happened. Here are two safe options to get rid of pesky Ants forever.

The most difficult but cheapest way to rid yourself of Ants is as follows: Dig them up and place the dirt in a large bucket(s). Once done, fill the bucket(s) with water over the level of the dirt. Stir the dirt and add water as needed.

Ant’s are programmed to dig downward, and are rarely able to climb up a buckets sides. Ants will climb onto grass blades and twigs. If there are any grass blades or twigs in the bucket, remove them. As water covers the dirt, Ants drown. Hours later or the next day pour the mud back where the hill is. This will help kill any remaining Ants and Ant Eggs that were missed.

Cheapest way to get rid of Ants is to dig them up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have to repeat this cycle a few times to kill all the Ants. Caution – If you let the bucket sit for a longer period of time, it smells pretty bad. Raw Sewage and other unidentifiable stink comes to mind.

A second safe and easy method is to buy powdered, “Roach Killer”, or “Twenty Mule Team Borax” from the laundry soap aisle. They both are made of Borax. Borax is a mineral with sharp points. Borax gets in the Ants joints and punctures the shell. The Ants then dehydrate. Sprinkle the powder on and around the holes of the Ant hill, and keep the area dry.

Borax when placed in contact with water dissolves and is harmless to Ants. This is why you want to keep the Ant Hill dry.

By the next day, all or most of the Ants should be gone. Repeat every two days as there will be Ant eggs hatching and restarting the colony. After about ten days of powdering the Ant Hill, all Ants should be gone.

DYI Bird-Bath and Effortless Hummingbird Feeder Cleaning

Not a lot to this post, unless you like Birds. Especially Birds in your yard. I learned my enjoyment of birds from my Father. When I was young, he worked much of the week. One of the first things he did when getting home was fill his bird feeder with seed.

On a side note, my Father’s Bird Feeder was an upside down car hub cap on top of a galvanized pipe, stuck into the ground. The birds never seemed to mind. He also expanded into making Wren houses, raising Pheasants, Homing Pigeons (which flew back to their previous owner without fail), Chickens and Turkeys.

My Father’s Bird-Bath was the same. A second hub cap attached to a galvanized pipe, stuck into the ground. When I lived on my own, and took in (one at a time) stray cats which spent my out of town time outside, neighborhood sparrows were well fed on leftover bread. This kept a large bird population for the Cat to dine on when I wasn’t home. Lazy animal husbandry in action.

I’m now on my third Bird-Bath in one year. It hasn’t been a good time for Bird-Baths in my back yard. The first Bird-Bath broke in half. The second, laying on the ground in pieces in the bottom of the photograph, I thought was broken by wind. The third one, on the bottom left was knocked off the second night it was used. There have been sightings of Raccoon and Bobcat in the neighborhood this spring, so these may be the culprit knocking the baths down due to their weight. This is odd, because I am at least two miles from any wild areas.

I went to a second hand store looking for a cheap plastic something that would work as a bird bath and not break if knocked down. I found the current plastic ‘skylight’ Bird-Bath for $1.99.

I had my doubts it would work, as it doesn’t hold a lot of water and needs filling almost daily during these hot summer days. The skylight would fall off the pedestal in the slightest breeze, which was also a problem. Fortunately, I found the big piece of lava rock that is now sitting in the middle of the Bird-Bath. I fill the clay bath on the ground daily too.

The big piece of lava rock, displaced half the water holding ability, but the skylight hasn’t ‘fallen’ off. Considering the total cost of two dollars and change, I choose not to complain about the need for daily filling.

Bird-Baths do not need to be expensive. $1.99 for this incarnation!

Whet I do find fascinating about this most recent version of a Bird-Bath, is the number of Birds that show up and drink out of it! I have become spoiled over the years by Sparrows, Finches, Hawks, Robbins and Doves showing up throughout the day. With this newest Bird-Bath incarnation, the numbers of birds have increased four-fold!

I am not complaining, but rather, I am confused about why, when I had ‘real’ (and expensive) bird baths, the birds came hesitantly. Even with a sprinkler in the bath. Yet this cheap piece of oddly shaped plastic with a rock in the middle, really draws the birds in.

Bird related, I came up with an idea for my Hummingbird feeders, of which I have two. Instead of scrubbing the mold and slime out of them every three days when I put out a clean feeder, I came up with a no fuss solution. I empty the used feeder, rinse it, and place it in a covered bucket of bleach water.

After three days in bleach water, all the feeders need is a good rinse before use, to ensure the bleach water is rinsed off. I use 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water. Being covered stops evaporation, so I will have enough solution for the rest of the season.

The Hummingbirds too are more prevalent now, and I am not scrubbing Hummingbird feeders in the kitchen sink, which makes my wife happy. If I forget to pull in a feeder after three days, I don’t have mold building up in the top of the feeder.

That’s it for this post, a bird loving bath, and no scrub Hummingbird feeders. Give my ideas a try, and let me know how they work for you.

Simple Hole in the Ground Composting

It is spring. When spring arrives we all get the urge to do something outside. I know it’s way to early temperature wise to add to the compost pile and get any results. My compost pile, just isn’t that big.

I thought I would try something different Which I have been doing for about five weeks now. Compost holes. If you have ever been out camping decades ago, this was a common way of disposing of compostable material and if true wilderness, human waste. You simply dug a hole and buried it.

I’m sure as busy as many places are today, this is no longer done. Camping spots are more like mobile home parks than they are the remote locations they once were. However the idea is still the same. I have dug to date, five two gallon holes, one at a time. I add my gallon, more or less, of compostable material to the holes and cover it what I dug out minus the rocks.

I am curious to see if over the summer anything volunteers to grow in these spots. I marked them with a twig standing upright. With a little rain the material should break down and any volunteer seeds should have more fertile soil than other places. Of course weeds always lead the way, but they are compost for the next hole, or the compost pile when the temperature goes up beyond eighty.

Nothing more to add to this right now. Putting it out there for anyone who doesn’t have a compost pile, yet wants to compost. This is the simplest way to add to the soil. A ten or twelve inch hole, add your compost material and replace the soil.

Magic Compost Pile

I have come to think of this little dirt pile as my “Magic Compost Pile”. It started life out about four years ago as what was purported to be, horse manure. The only thing it had in common with actual manure, was it had particles of straw no larger than one-quarter inch.

Over the years nothing grew in it, or on it. I was starting to wonder if I made a mistake bringing it home and planting two snowball bushes at its foot. This summer changed all that.

I collect vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and anything else compostable in the crock pot insert shown in the picture. It’s maybe a gallon in size. It was taking forever to fill it, before I went on the Whole 30 diet. Since then and changing a little to the paleo Diet, it is filled about once a week to week-in-a-half.

I have another ‘heavy duty’ compost pile that is slowly working its way through collected bags of leaves. Leaves are not unless they get a lot of help, quick compost material here in the southwest. I have lots of time, and am not in a hurry. I let it do its thing, though I add something every once in a while.

I did not want to go through the work of trying to dug through leaves and twigs to deposit my vegetable scraps, so I decided I could do worse than trying to turn the dead horse manure into something useful. That turned out to be an awesome idea. Every gallon of vegetable scraps, tea bags, etc, added over the summer was gone in a few weeks. All that I find are an occasional tea bag tag.

Some of the seeds from different fruits started to sprout, so I dug little gallon size holes around them. In late August, a yam plant poked itself through the compost pile. Some other seeds sprouted as well. Yet the majority of what went into this little pile was gone so quick, I thought an army of rodents were showing up at night and having a feast.

I started carefully smoothing the top layer, and would go out each day and look for digging, or tracks. There were none. The only thing unusual about the process I think is odd are the kitchen scraps. In the summer, by the time they make into the pile, they smell like vinegar, and have a green fungus going to town in the material. It also sort of plops into the hole as a fused piece.

I doubt this amazing compost speed will carry over the winter. As you can see the pile is only a few feet tall at best. It is against a west fence wall, so it does get light most of the day. With the summer temperature in the mid nineties, it probably heats up much more than it would on its own.

As I was adding another gallon of kitchen scraps today, I thought I talk about this mighty little compost pile while I think of spring just around the corner. I got the idea of using a crock pot insert from my post on pot composting. I haven’t used the pots last summer as everything I added to the pile was eaten so quickly, it almost seems like magic. If you look at the categories, I have links to other compost posts under gardening.