Friday, July 14, 2017

So many rodents...

I have done some writing this summer but very little.  I have so much to catch up on and I hate that I’m working in reverse order writing about more recent events when there’s so much else I want to document, but I guess I have to start somewhere.

For the most part, since summer holidays started I feel like we’ve been getting out quite a bit and I started off really well with making sure we had little (and sometimes big!) adventures to parks together.  I know that if I wrote out everything we’ve done so far, I’d be impressed with how much we’ve been up to.

At the same time, the past few days I’ve been feeling pretty down in the dumps, and it all has to do with wildlife!  Yes, there was the bear encounter while we were camping at the beginning of the week, and that has definitely left me feeling disheartened about camping and wary of our next trip, since we’ll be camping for two nights next month and I swear I’d have been suicidal by night two if we’d had to camp a second night this last trip.  (I don’t even feel I’m exaggerating - the lack of sleep and amount of stress I was feeling after the night we endured camping left me feeling more down in the dumps than I’ve felt in an extremely long time).

But that issue aside, which despite the fact that we live near a mountain and I KNOW there are occasionally bears in the area, I do feel safe from bears for the most part, and know if I just stay out of the woods I should be fine.  (Never in all my 37 years have I encountered a bear until we camped this week!)  It’s the fact that we have a MAJOR rodent problem in our neighbourhood that is ruining things for me this summer.

Usually I look forward to the summer most of all because it gives our living room such a huge extension by way of the Back Yard.  I spend the fall and winter months longing to gain that space back, and feel the heaviness of winter leave my shoulders at the first signs of Spring, knowing we have the Summer months to look forward to.  I am admittedly a homebody, so as much as I do love getting out with the family to go on adventures, I love most of all setting up ‘camp’ in our own backyard - which usually involves filling up the kids’ little pool, planting and enjoying lots of summery flowers (which I’ve barely done this year compared to previous years because why bother - the rodents prevent me from being out there enjoying it), bringing out a tray of snacks, maybe putting some music on my iphone, and just lounging in the yard while the kids enjoy some play time.  The neighbours’ kids sometimes come over and the kids have fun together and I love having that time out in the yard but also being at home so I can to whatever I need done, and not make the day overly complicated.  I usually LOVE sitting outside with James after the kids have all been tucked into bed, and having that time to spend together quietly chatting, maybe sipping a beer or a glass of wine, kicking back in our comfy lounge chairs, enjoying the cool night breeze.  Or playing an impromptu game of badminton, which is always great fun.  Except, of course, when rodents get in the way of it.

The problem has gotten so severe that sitting outside for literally 5 minutes in the early evening, you’d be surprised NOT to see at least 3 rodents running through the yard.  Some just beyond our back fence, but not at all uncommonly right near our back door, and along both sides of the yard.  Given that I had a rat RUN RIGHT OVER MY FOOT in our front yard space at the end of last summer, I am not at all confident that these rodents won’t come anywhere near me, and I am basically a person who wishes to be as far away from rodents at all times as is humanly possible, so...This current scenario has not been working for me at all.

I am apprehensive to ever go into the yard, front or back at this point.  (Last Saturday I was planning to vacuum out the van, when Andrew headed out the front door first and quickly ran back in announcing that a huge black rat with the longest tail ever was hanging out in the neighbour’s carport (which is directly attached to ours).  And he wasn’t exaggerating in saying it was big - some of the rats I’ve been seeing are so big that I’ve mistaken them for cats until their disgusting pink, hairless tails appear behind them.  We have mice and rats of all colours and sizes and I don’t play favourites: I HATE THEM ALL!

I’ve been calling and emailing and printing off letters to management about this issue for some time, generally to no avail.  I finally got to my end point with it, and printed off a letter that I hand delivered and also emailed, stating what the issue was and what they are legally obligated to do about it, as well as what they legally have to do to work to prevent such things from even happening in the first place.  They let their garden maintenance person go months ago, and it’s no coincidence that the rodent population has more than quadrupled since then.  The grass area beyond our back fence hadn’t been mowed in months and was a perfect hiding place for rodents.  I said as much, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that the very next day someone was mowing that grass.  Not the greatest job ever, but better than nothing.  I was hoping it would at least help with the issue, but the reality is that the problem has been left to get so severe that they’re going to have to do a whole lot more to fix it.

When I started sitting outside and had more rodents running rampant around me than I’d care to even remember, I’d had enough.  I started sending management messages every day about the issue, and finally said that I was beginning to wonder if I should call a pest control company myself and send them the bill afterwards.  I know that I am well within my rights to do so, especially with so much documentation about the problem and proof of having brought it to their attention time and time again.  And in light of the mouse we had in our kitchen and the fact that I haven’t felt entirely safe from rodents even inside our home for a long time now, I’m quite confident I would win the case against them if it got taken to arbitration.

I found out the next day that other people in the complex have been complaining about the issue, too, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I sent that somewhat threatening (justifiably so!) letter and then the very next day pest control was in the complex setting out rat bait traps.  Of course, they only set out four in the entire complex, which barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done at this point to get the population in check, but I was at least relieved to know that one of the traps had been set just beyond our back fence.

I haven’t been spending a whole lot of time in our yard with all of this going on, though, and I’m feeling really sad that we’re losing so much of our outdoor time because at the time of day when it’s most pleasant to be out there, the mice and rats tend to be out in full force.  Sometimes I can even hear the same horrible chewing-through-the-wall sound the mouse was making that actually did make its way into our kitchen a few weeks ago, coming from what sounds like under the deck in our neighbours’ yard, and that can happen in the middle of the afternoon.  I’m not comfortable with it, and even when I’m in the yard I don’t feel I’m fully enjoying it because I’m tense from the toenails up, basically looking back and forth and perking my ears up in case I see or hear something that shouldn’t be there.  I hate living like this.  It’s not enjoyable.  

Considering all the flood and water leak issues we’ve had, as well as other issues with maintenance around here, and now a serious rodent issue, I would move in a heartbeat if that were feasible.  But given the rental market throughout the entire lower mainland, there’s literally nowhere else for us to go.  I just have to do whatever I can to force management to work on the issue and hope that in time it gets rectified so that by next summer we’ll be able to enjoy our yard without even having to think twice.  I just can’t seem to shake the sadness I feel about the time we’re losing right now.

Looking back on my blog just now I realized I never posted about the mouse in our kitchen...I do have it well documented in my planner, so I do have the exact date that it happened but it was a few weeks ago.  I stayed up till 1am folding a ton of laundry that particular night, and when I went into the kitchen with the teatowels and washcloths to put away, I could hear this awful scratching-in-the-wall sound behind the stove area.  I was pretty sure I knew what it was right away, but I’d never heard that sound ever in my life before, and it made me freeze in fear for a moment!  I just perked up my ears and listened and tried to figure out where it was coming from.  I ended up waking James up (much to his chagrin) to help me suss it out, and he ended up turning on the stove fan, which scared it away.  He went back to bed but of course I was way too wrought up and worried to go to sleep myself.  About half an hour or so later the sound started up again, so I put the fan back on and left it on.  It may have happened a third time but after that I let the fan run the whole rest of the night, and I also sprayed peppermint oil all over the entire house pretty much before I went to bed (which I know rodents don’t like).  As soon as the management office opened the next morning, I called to tell them what had happened and they sent someone at the end of the day to fill the holes about the light fixture area.

Especially after finding mouse droppings in the cupboard above the stove, I was totally freaked out because I knew a mouse had actually made it’s way in.  What if it was still in the house somewhere?!  I cleaned out every single cupboard in the kitchen looking for droppings, but ‘luckily’ it had only made it into that one cupboard before we scared it off.  There were mouse droppings above the light fixture area, too, but it was just a very good thing I had been up and heard it before it managed to make it’s way further into our house.  Another reason I stay up so late - I’m no longer just staying up as long as possible in hopes if there’s another pipe leak I’ll catch it, I’m now on high alert for rodents.  It’s really no fun at all.

I’m pretty good about making sure food is all well stored so I don’t think a mouse would have been entirely happy in our kitchen, anyway.  So thank goodness it was the best case of the worst case scenario in terms of the mouse actually getting into the house.  There haven’t been any signs of them in the house since, and my dad came over the next day and filled some holes outside that he thought could be a place for them to get in, and he better secured the little grate around our vent pipe for the stove fan.  There really isn’t anything else we can do except cross our fingers and hope the damn rodents don’t find a way back in, but the reality is that the damage is already done in terms of how it’s affecting me.  I am totally paranoid and the slightest sound now just makes me jump.  I haven’t felt comfortable since in all honesty, and I definitely know it has majorly affected my general wellbeing.

It’s not that I’m not enjoying the summer break with the kids so far, because I am, and there have been great moments and I expect there to be many more.  We have quite a few events planned for the rest of the summer and I’m looking forward to crossing everything off our bucket list.  I just wish I could relax more in (and just outside of) my own home, is that really so much to ask?!

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