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Friday, August 10, 2012

Rude Awakening

This falls under the heading of, "Glad this happened now, and not when I needed it."

I recently had occasion to review all of my food storage.  The vast majority of it is held in the large, 66 quart clear plastic lidded tubs.  The tubs are then on a bunch of shelving.

The food is either in its original cans, or if it's from a larger package (sack of beans, for instance), 2 or 3 pound portions are vacuum sealed, dated and placed in the tubs.

Every now and then I'll get a bit ahead of myself.  I'll find a great deal, buy the bulk item and put the whole sack on the shelf.  When I get time, I'll portion it out and get it in the tubs.  Also, on occasion, I'll have the stuff portioned and vacuum sealed, and put in a cardboard box labeled, "to be sorted".

I was going through the "to be sorted box" and damned near screamed.  I noticed mouse droppings just outside of the cardboard box.  I opened the box and that little SOB had bit through EVERY SINGLE VACUUM SEALED bag.  Took one bite, and in most cases, decided he didn't like the contents.  The one exception was a bag of red beans.

Oh, and apparently he doesn't like malted barley either.  He bit into the 50 pound sack, ate a bit, and moved on.  Also kind of interesting was with spices.  I had (yes, also past tense) a bunch of 1 pound +/- vacuum sealed bags of red pepper, black pepper, chile powder, garlic and onion powder, dehydrated chopped garlic and onion, oregano, thyme, blah, blah, blah.  One bite and done.

Obviously, it all had to be thrown out.  Thirty plus pounds of rice, lentils and beans, the fifty pounds of malted barley and fifteen pounds or so of spices.  Ouch.

Let it be noted that nothing in the lidded plastic tubs was touched.  Now, this could have been because it was so easy to get to the other stuff, or maybe the lidded tubs work.  They've got a semi-locking mechanism on them.  Maybe it's enough to keep the rodents out.  My guess is it had more to do with the easy pickins' being so easy.  If they were hungry enough, they'd make it into the tubs, I'm sure.

Accept The Challenge

Regularly check your stored goods.  If things had gotten ugly a week earlier, losing 95 pounds of food and spices would have been painful.  As it turns out, it was just a painfully expensive lesson.

If you have items that are only to be used for long-term storage - the malted barley and spices in my case - give them a looksee on a regular basis as well.

A bit of an interesting side note:  The sack of barley was part of a bigger stack.  I had a 25lb sack of white sugar on top of the barley, and a 25 pound sack of salt on top of that.  Neither of them were touched.

Is white sugar really that unhealthy that a mouse wouldn't eat it?!

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Crustyrusty said...

Been there. Lost a bit of rice to mus musculus a while back. No more.

Anonymous said...

It has been my experience that mice will eat ANYTHING in plastic no matter what is in it. I had mice/rats nibble a hole in the bottom of two plastic bottles of MOTOR OIL, draining a qt onto my shed floor. There is no WAY that they thought it smelled like food.

Oblio13 said...

We keep our stores in military surplus aluminum medical storage boxes. Expensive but worth the peace of mind. We've had rats chew through heavy-duty plastic garbage cans to get into chicken feed. I don't think anything but metal or glass will stop them.

Anonymous said...

I don't have mice but I set traps, numerous traps. I did catch a chipmunk last month. I live in the woods and chipmonks, squirrels and mice are everywhere. Everything I store is in five gallon buckets, canning jars or tin cans. I have heard that a mouse "could" chew through a five gallon bucket but I've never seen it happen.

Chief Instructor said...

All: I think I'm going to put at least a portion of what I've got in some sort of metal container. Need to think on this...

suek said...

I have stuff in the garage.

Along with the cat. He's a hunter.

No mice!

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, I can foresee having "outside cats" when we move to whatever state we head to. Right now, my wife has a couple of yappy little poodles - that are actually more like cats than dogs!

I'm not much of a cat-person, but the DO get the job done. Maybe a rat terrier or other similar canine...

Anonymous said...

Rat terriers (Jack Russells for example) are terrific for places where the rodents go to ground, but not so good for places with concrete floors and lots of shelves to get up on. They can also create a lot of havoc going after the rodents when they're in range.

Our cat is an outdoor cat, primarily, but in the land of coyotes we make it a point to feed only in the evening in order to get cat to come in at a habitual time, then close him in. He's about 7 this year, so he's doing pretty well. We've lost another 2 cats in the same period - his litter brother and another one we raised from a newborn (long story. Very long). They went out in the morning and didn't come back at night. In that time period, coyotes aren't _likely_ although certainly not impossible. More likely are the hawks we also have. No defense against them. Either that or they decided someone else had better accommodations. We checked for "flat spots" on the road, but no sign of same. Also no report of stray cats at the Animal Control location.

I got two more this year for the barn. Females. I'm counting on them to reproduce. The barn is alongside a riverbed _full_ of coyotes. Almost lost a large doberman to them. We also have hawks and owls down there - both of which apparently consider cats to be fair game.

If you decide to get cats, watch for "barn cats" or "farm cats" ads. Preferably as about 3 or 4 month olds so their mother can have started them hunting. Avoid "Must have good home" ads, or cats that have been declawed...

Also, black and yellow on the same cat means a cat is female. (color is on the X gene, and females have two X genes, so if both black and yellow, must have two X genes.) If you find one that is male, some university will be interested. Females are better hunters usually. Not always, but usually.

Personally, while I know the pros and cons, I consider keeping a cat indoors to be cruelty to animals.

Anonymous said...

Posted a long response ... mistakenly posted as seems to have disappeared...has it disappeared into the ethernet?

Anonymous said...

Dang. Anonymous again. Is there a problem? I made certain I marked it as name url...

sue said...


Three comments made and disappeared. Is the problem mine or yours????

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, for some reason, blogger sent a BUNCH of comments to the spam folder, but they didn't tell me there was stuff in there. I'm guessing these are the comments you were talking about. I'll check the spam settings (honestly, I didn't even know that blogger had comment spam settings) and see if I can clean it up.

BTW, very interesting about the cat colors. Who knew?!

I worry about a BIG owl in our neighborhood. It only comes out at night, but it actually landed on our back fence a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting out back, and down he came. Could have easily snatched up one of our yappy poddles and eaten well for a while. They won't be going outside at night without an escort!

suek said...

Yes...those are the ones. It was odd...I did the "secret code" thing, then clicked on the Name/URL circle, and then it apparently posted - but didn't require either a name or a URL. And, of course, it came up as anonymous.