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Mice and people do their autumn chores

Karen Wils photo A wide-eyed mouse looks up at the camera from between rocks.

ESCANABA — Old autumn, apple pie,

Aching bones from years gone by,

Old autumn, wood piles high,

Into every nook and cranny mice will try!

Yes, it is that mouse in the wood pile time of year again.

We are all so busy try to get the yard and the camp ready for winter. The “honey do” list is long, drain the garden hoses, put up the winter windows, empty the flower pots, harvest the carrots and rutabagas, rake the leaves and make sure that woodpile is stacked plenty high with good hard wood and split kindling.

While we are busy putting up a few Halloween decorations, tiny, little footprints try to creep into our woodsheds and basements and back entryways.

They are quite, little house guests. You may not even notice them until you find the telltale little black droppings by the dog’s food bowl or by the bag of bird seed.

There’s nothing cuter than Upper Michigan’s white footed mouse or deer mouse. With its big round ears and perky black eyes, the deer mouse with reddish-brown coat is one of the most abundant species of wildlife in the woodlands.

That is why we need a variety of good mousers out there like the owl, fox and bobcat.

Deer mice love to live in woodpiles. Although they are not true hibernators, they do become dormant and sleep in the coldest parts of winter. That is why we find them and their nesting material between the layers of our outdoor woodpiles.

The other common mouse of Michigan is called the house mouse. This tiny critter is dark grey with small eyes and ears. He is the non-native little fella that came over with the settlers.

This year has been an exceptionally good growing season — and it has been a great year for the mice, too. Many homes that rarely see the long-tails have been visited by a few mice. Super prolific, ready to reproduce when they are seven weeks old, one mother mouse can have hundreds of babies a year.

The best thing to do to keep mice from being interested in your home is to make sure there are no food sources left around. Make sure all cracks or holes in the foundation are sealed. A mouse can fit through a hole not much bigger than a dime.

Lastly, keep a real cat with claws. Felines were domesticated shortly after ancient humans stated to grow crops and grains. The mice population exploded as the creatures feasted on the crops. People soon figured out by keeping house cat around the place the mice problem was much less.

Check in furnace filters and the smoke alarms. Move the lawn mower to the back of the garage and pull out the snow blower. Put up a scarecrow and some cornstalks.

Old autumn apple pie,

Honking geese pepper the sky,

Flannel shirts and vests of down,

There’s no place like home in country or town.

——

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.

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