Notice to Quit

A Cautionary Tail

Field Mouse
Field Mouse. Etching by Winifred Austin

To whom it may concern
(this includes Common Field Mice, luchan-feòir, Apodemus sylvaticus, Field Voles, Short-tailed Voles, famhalain feòir, Microtus agrestris )
You have been given friendly warnings and advised that you are not allowed to live in the polytunnel during the winter. The Head Gardener has already relocated one of you to the garden wall but you have had the temerity to return. If we catch you in the tunnel again you will be forcibly evicted and thereafter you must face the consequences – the Longworth* traps will be set.
You have been warned

The Assistant Gardener

Did someone squeak?
“please there are micigating circumstances:
the nights are getting long and cold, we’ve had a hard summer pursued from fence to fence by owls and harriers and there are still things out there with beaks and talons. We would like to appeal to the Head Gardener.”
“Are you sure? You know what he did to the rats”
“Oh but we are small and cute and besides you let the Pygmy Shrews stay!”
“I’d not bargain on softening the heart of the Head Gardener he doesn’t do ‘small, furry and cute’! As for the Pygmy Shrews they are biological control operatives and they don’t eat my bulbs”
“That was last year and we were hungry”
“You should have thought about the consequences. I might  forgive you a few crocus bulbs but digging up the other bulbs from the pots and then spitting them out was pure vandalism”
“We’re sorry”
“No, you are not to be trusted and are banished to live in the garden wall. If you dare to eat my bulbs you will be canapes for the buzzards!”
“Grumpy old wifey! What do think the wee folk will say – not much chance of help after we ate their grain last winter!”

*Longworth Trap – small mammal trap, does not harm the animal but the unwary trapper can be bitten!

7 thoughts on “Notice to Quit

  1. It will be interesting to hear the frontline dispatches over the winter…….! I enjoy your writing so much Chris, regardless of the topic – your style and the way you use words really resonates with me. Did you ‘use words’ in your Life-before-Uist?

    • This is only the first skirmish in the great vole wars. The main problem is that they are small enough to squeeze in under the sliding door to the tunnel, so we play this game all winter. I don’t mind sharing but the little blighters are hooligans.
      I have always written and more to the point I read voraciously. A supervising tutor once gave me a lecture on the appalling state of the English in my thesis, he told me that being a scientist is not an excuse for illiteracy and that I should read the King James bible if I wanted to know how to write decent English. Good advice.

      • You read all of the Kings James bible, of course, having been given that advice…

  2. Hi Chris
    Your supervising tutor needs to tweak his sense of humour! I love your style of writing.
    Best of luck with these little rodents. Every garden deals with some kind of pests so I hope your very stern WARNING fell on obedient ears. 🙂

    • Thanks Astrid. It was almost 40 years ago! he was a stern task master but I benefitted from his wisdom even if his sense of humour was lacking.
      We have very few pest to contend with so I try not to be too harsh on the voles.

  3. Very funny… and I’m allowed to laugh as I had my own little battle last year. My darling husband loves his car almost as much as he loves me. One day he noticed that a mouse had made a nest out of his AA road map and set up home in his glove compartment. He was all for getting a shotgun (a bit drastic but he does love the car!) but I persuaded him to try a gentler deterrant. Mice hate peppermint oil – so I soaked some cotton wool balls in the stuff and placed them in and around the car.
    His car smells like a polo mint on wheels but it’s been mouse free for a year! Hooray 🙂

    • My posts are designed to raise a smile and unless I’m having a soapbox day they should not be taken too seriously.
      Thank you for the tip – I’ll try the peppermint tip around the bulb pots. We’ve not had voles in the car, it’s normally starlings nesting behind the radiator grill.
      Oh the joys of country life.

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