Tomatoes, Rats and Other News from Our Little House

Our cherry tomato plant started getting buds about a week ago.

This week, those buds morphed into teeny-tiny tomatoes.

I’m very pleased, but a little surprised. Although we put our container garden in about one month ahead of schedule due to the unusual warm
weather, I really didn’t expect buds and tomatoes this soon.

Particularly since it turned cooler the past couple of weeks. There were even a couple of nights I threw a sheet over them just in case of a frost.

In other news from the Party Deck this week, we’ve had to resort to exterminating some mice ad wood rats that have taken up residence in our basement and around the house.

They haven’t gotten into the house that I know of, but they are munching on the siding and a couple of mornings it sounded as if they had made their way under the siding and was chewing on the insulation in the wall.

We’ve only seen one wood rat, under the covered front porch, which the dogs have chased, but we’ve seen several mice scurrying along the deck. We’ve also found we have a problem under the front porch of The Belle Writer’s Studio and in the big storage building.

I hate to kill any living creature. I even try to scoop up spiders and wasps when they get into the house, so I wasn’t keen on setting those slam traps. Sticky traps and poison is even less humane and out of the question as it would put our dogs, as well as other wildlife at risk.

I bought a live trap for $5 and set it, and set it, and set it. The trap was being tripped, but it wasn’t catching the mice. After several weeks of basically feeding them, we gave up on that.

I was hoping the big black snake that slithered around the back of the house for a couple of days would eliminate the problem, but it wasn’t so. We still found mouse droppings all over the table Dale built that sits on the covered front porch and in Molly’s stroller.

The wood rats are also dangerous, if they get under the hood of our cars, they eat the wiring and at minimum, cause a lot of damage. Sometimes the damage is so bad it causes car fires, many of which we’ve seen here.

My aunt, who lives down the road, told me about a trap called the Rat Zapper, which kills them instantly with an electrical shock as soon as they enter the trap.

Seeing that the black snake wasn’t eliminating the problem and the mice and rats weren’t going to be willed away, we ordered a couple and they arrived this week.

They do the job as advertised, without the mess of the slam traps. Hopefully, we won’t have to keep setting them for long before our problem is no more.

Do you have tomatoes or any other veggies coming on yet? Or, have you had a mouse problem and if so, how have you dealt with it?


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30 Responses

  1. sarah henry says:

    I’m with Ruth on the rat extermination front. I just don’t want to live with them. I can handle ants, snakes, even roaches — but rats scratching away in my walls at night makes my skin crawl.

  2. My mouse problem continues to be that the cat brings them IN the house, sometimes still alive. Then I have to figure out how to catch them. When I do, I’ve taken them back outside – I just can’t kill them.

    As for the garden, I have some Roma tomatoes on the vine, and I’m harvesting green beans, lettuce, and kale.

    • Kerri says:

      Our cherry and romas are doing very well. Our cucumber plants are already huge. I think this will be a good growing season.

  3. I started seeds in our greenhouse a month ago, using wall-o-water. And, I do have some tiny, tiny seedlings coming up already. I just started some more tomato and tomatillo seeds in the house this week. We’ll see. The growing season is so short here … I usually get plants in may and start with those for tomatoes and peppers. I do have some squash seedlings coming up, though. Yay!

    As for the rats, I’m so sorry. We’ve only had one get in the house over the years. It was denuding our house plants and building a nest under the entertainment center. We chased it with brooms into a box, and my hubby drove him down the canyon and let him loose.

    • Kerri says:

      LOL, I had to smile at the thought of Tom driving the rat down the canyon and setting it free! 🙂 Good luck with your plants.

  4. HeatherL says:

    I love it when tomatoes start forming and you feel like you’re a success at gardening. Next week the gardening begins here. It seems like it won’t frost anymore now.

    • Kerri says:

      Hopefully, we’re in the clear too. I took a chance planting so early, but wanted to get them going and take advantage of our early warm weather. Looks like it’s paying off.

  5. Merr says:

    Exciting about the tomatoes…enjoy them! I am looking forward to a post about the flavor, and how they far far FAR exceed the store bought types!

  6. Cindyt says:

    LOL the mice and rats seem to have hit a nerve! Everyone has made a comment on them…and no tomatoe comments! So I will do the tomatoes! I too am doing container garden this year. Due to my small yard that is shaded most of the day by the forest that surrounds me. I had a brillant idea to use the fishing deck out on the Lake! I put out some big pots for the Tomatoes and some slightly smaller ones for the Eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and zuchinni! So far the Cucs and squash are blooming up a storm…fruits should be just around the corner…but whoa the tomatoes are setting fruit! Yeah! I am so excited that I will have lots of fresh veggies…now if the birds will let them ripen……. Good Luck with your ‘pot’ garden 🙂 Cindyt

    • Kerri says:

      That is a wnderful idea, Cindy, doing it on the dock. If we had one, I would do that too! Are you able to fence it off somehow to keep the racoons and other critters from going out there? I’m glad yours are setting fruit too. We’ll have a race to see who has tomatoes first! 😉

  7. Ewww. Sorry you’re dealing with this! We have a woodchuck who has taken up residence under our tool shed. He was here last year and we convinced him to leave by putting moth balls under there, which we will do again.

  8. Jane Boursaw says:

    Oy, rats. We’ve had mice get into the house and cars – especially when the weather starts getting cold outside or, like recently, when it gets warm and then gets cold again. The little things are confused and looking for a warm place! But mostly our problem is spiders. They seem to think we built this log home just for them. [shiver]

    • Kerri says:

      Spiders don’t bother me. We even have tarantulas here, but they don’t come near the house. The only spider I’ve killed here was a big wolf spider that got into the house. He was on the floor and when I went near him to try to get him out, he jumped at me. I reacted and squish…..

  9. Irene says:

    We have a constant problem with mice eating the underground telephone wires outside our house. Nothing to do but replace them! Maybe that will drive us away from land lines 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Hmm, I always wondered why the telephone company keeps running overhead lines here. Maybe that is the reason. It’s a worry during storms, but better than having critters chew the underground lines all of the time.

  10. Carol says:

    I also had mice build a nest in the engine of my car. Right on the air filter. I had been at the cabin for a week and then drove home, and about a week later I went for an oil change. The guys at the garage were very surprised! I’m lucky I didn’t have a fire! Darn mice!

  11. Carol says:

    I really hate mice. They make such a mess. During my mother’s last illness, the cabin was empty for 8 months. The mice moved into the Mouse Hilton, the large range, and although I scrubbed it many, many times, I never got the smell to go away. Turn on the stove and ick! I finally had to replace it. Also they love plastic, thus I put as much as I can in glass.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I know. I just hope they haven’t gotten into the boxes up in the storage building. I shudder when I see the droppings. Ick.

  12. mat says:

    We only use snap-traps, baited with peanut butter for the mice that invade our attic. We’ve tried sticky traps with no success. We tried poison, but that went…badly. I can’t tell how many, but at least 1 mouse died behind the wall in our living room, and the place stank like death for a month.
    With a small child in the house, I have no sympathy for rodents–disease-carrying or otherwise. Spiders…I give them a chance, though.

    • Kerri says:

      The sticky traps are horribly inhumane, Mat, so I have to be a little glad they didn’t work for you. 🙂 Poison can also be carried outside and harm other critters. I can’t stand the ickiness of the slam or snap traps and Dale isn’t always around to set them, so I had to find another solution. You should check into these battery operated Rat Zappers.

  13. I’m a little leery of killing living creatures, too — but make a fast exception for rats. So much for consistency.

  14. Devlin says:

    I’m sure about rats but mice hate the smell of peppermint. Try soaking some cotton balls in peppermint oil and place around the foundation, inside the house or wherever you do not want them. You can also mix one oz oil with 10 oz water in a spray bottle. It’s safe and all natural.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, THANK YOU, Devlin! I will be at the natural store today and can get some peppermint oil. I had never read this. I knew there had to be a way, there’s typically a natural way to eliminate something without harming it or the environment.

  15. Alexandra says:

    Yo, you live in the woods, you get mice. I must say I have come to hate mice particularly because they carry deer ticks, which give Lyme disease. That being said, we have eliminated them from our house, but there are still some under our cottage and I need to do something about it, so thanks for the reminder. They say the best way to remove them is bait that they carry back to the nest and which kills them all, but I don’t like to have that type of poison. Did not know about rat zappers. Thanks for the info.

    • Kerri says:

      Up until now, and we’ve had this house since 2003, we hadn’t had a problem with mice and rats. I think the dogs, who are fearsome hunters, kept the varmits down. However, they are not being allowed out as much anymore, thanks to all of their injuries. So, I think that gave the rodents opportunity to move on in. The Rat Zappers are wonderful and while I haven’t seen them at work, I like the fact it is supposed to be humane and it has an environmental seal of approval on it.