Of Mice and……. Feed Hopper Lids.

I know perfectly well there are mice living in the sheds. There are always going to be mice, living in the sheds, as long as there are sheds and mice! They’re just the common, ordinary house mouse and I’d much rather they were in the shed than in the house!

But…. I do draw the line at this.

Top left corner,....the darker brown objects are NOT rabbit food!

Top left corner,….the darker brown objects are NOT rabbit food!

Mouse dropping in the feed hoppers on the bunny cages! Which, logically, means I’m feeding the wretched mice on expensive rabbit food. Now, I have no objection to feeding the rabbits on bought-in rabbit food because I get something back from them (meat, fur, loads of composting materials, the occasional cuddle) but mice? No way.

So, the logical thing to do is to deny the mice access to the feed hoppers. They’re probably just shinning up the wire doors and climbing in, stuffing their little furry noses to the brim and climbing out again, so a little ingenuity later and my childhood spent watching Blue Peter comes into good effect

Blue Peter has a lot to answer for....

Blue Peter has a lot to answer for….

We have stacks of empty ice cream cartons lying around, so a pair of scissors and a few snips trimmed the flat bottoms out of a pile of them. These are, pleasingly, just a little larger than the top of a feed hopper. I drilled a couple of holes along one long edge (the trusty penknife – who says you don’t need a penknife in everyday life?) and a pair of wire-cutters applied to the coil of soft wire (the same stuff I used to break in the other week!) and we have this:

The bottom of an ice cream tub and two short lengths of soft wire.

The bottom of an ice cream tub and two short lengths of soft wire.

A couple of minutes work with a pair of pliers, closely watched by various interested and slightly suspicious bunnies, and I achieved lids on the feed hoppers: Delilah certainly had doubts about what I was up to and I nearly had to push her out of the way to attach her lid!

Mouse proof (hopefully!) lid for feed hopper.

Mouse proof (hopefully!) lid for feed hopper.

Stylish they aren’t, but they should be effective, they’re dirt-cheap and very easy to do!

Lid in place, looking good!

Lid in place, looking good!

Now, I just have to set a few traps for the mice and reduce the populationĀ  a little….

Better mice than rats, though!

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Assets or Resources

Last night’s post got me thinking about an important point in prepping, which is how you’re regarded by the rest of your community.

In principle, as a prepper you keep under the radar, you try not to let anyone know what you’ve got, let alone where you keep it, but….

Let’s be honest, unless you have no neighbours and can do all the DIY/repairs with your own hands, you have to let others into your property from time to time. The electrician knows I have rabbits for food because he saw them while fixing our electricity problem. The local feed merchants know we have rabbits, dogs, ferrets and chickens because they sell us the food (and gave us the ferrets, too…). Various friends and acquaintances know we have chickens because we’ve sold a few excess eggs to help cover feed costs along the way. The neighbours know we have veg because they can look over the fence and see them. Some of my BCUK friends know I have a snaring licence and can shoot because we’ve discussed it over the campfire, out in the woods.

So…. you can’t keep entirely “grey”. What’s the problem with this?

If the SHTF, the food distribution system fails and people start tussling over food, they may see us as a target. We have food, growing in the garden and hopping round the shed. It may boil down to “your bunnies or your life!”

Okay, unlikely perhaps – but not impossible. It’s one reason I’m very happy to sell rabbits as breeding stock – the more people out there are raising their own food, the less will be out foraging for anything moveable in a famine situation.

I want my local community to regard me as an asset, something to be protected in return for what I can give them, and not a resource to be exploited, looted bare and left whimpering in the ruins. If I ever have to follow the “traditional” US-based prepping model and bug out, I want to be regarded as an asset, not a liability, when I hook up with friends or family at some safe place far away from here (Not many things would make me bug out, tbh. Most things that could happen would make me bug in, lock the door and wait the sit-x out.) So, to some extent, it’s worth being a little less grey and allowing some people to know you have a few useful skills and knowledge to share.

In any case, you can’t really avoid them finding out.

Useful Contacts

Well, Trudy had her kits on time but it was a couple of days before I got to see them, as she adopted a ferocious aspect and mounted armed guard over the nest whenever I came near. After a while, however, the novelty wore off and while I was cleaning her cage out, she popped quietly out to visit the neighbours and I sneaked a quick glance into the nest.

I have to give her points for consistency (as well as protectiveness) as she’s had seven, three black and four white. Exactly the same as last time.

We had a minor blip in our power supplies to the shed the other day, discovering the power was out in the evening (naturally…. who tests the lights work in daytime?). It hadn’t been out long and the freezers were still cold, so I flipped the trip-switch thingy back to the ‘on’ position, then shut the door and was just turning the key in the lock when I heard a smug click from the other side of it. Ho-hum, be like that, we’ll just work round it til tomorrow and phone an electrician. I do undertake a certain amount of DIY butĀ  electricity and I began our acquaintanceship when I was a toddler and stuck my fingers in a live electrical socket. I survived it (obviously!) but for some reason I have a terrible fascination for electricity and apparently have a fantastic earth connection, since any stray electron looking for a way to earth invariably heads for me. I’ve been electrocuted more times than I can count and take extreme precautions in thunderstorms.

So, trying to trace a fault in a mains electrical circuit in the dark, in the rain…. no. Not on your nelly! Daylight and a man who knows what he’s doing, thanks. I dug out the headtorch and did the evening bunny rounds, then went to bed.

When I got up, my mother was in the process of running an extension cable from the nearest house socket to the big freezer. Great minds clearly think alike since that had been my plan, too! We also looked up the nearest sparky and phoned for help. It didn’t take him long to diagnose the problem – leaky roof in the end shed allowing water to seep into one of the light sockets and create a short circuit – and fix it (he unplugged the shed in question, number 4, which is powered off one of the sockets in shed number 3). Hey presto, we had power and light again.

It was at that point, now we had lights on again instead of merely torches, that the electrician noticed the 31 rabbits in shed number 2. Gosh, what a lot of rabbits! We got the daughter a guinea pig last week…. What do you do with them?

We eat them.

There was a short pause and a few thoughtful “oh” sounds, then he successfully reprogrammed his brain from ‘rabbit = pet” to “rabbit = meat” and we got talking about how big rabbits get, how fast you can get them to killing weight, the advantages of aiming for self-sufficiency, the Highland cow he has due back from the abattoir for their freezer and the insanity of relying on the government to save our behinds if things get sticky.

This is good. Now, I know where he lives and he knows where we live, and we both know the other has meat on the hoof/paw and no problems about eating it. If, as and when TSHTF, I know a bloke who might trade beef for veg/rabbits/pest control…. and vice versa.

Allies are good, barter is great, and the more people in your community you know and can get into a friendly, allied, barter-oriented relationship with, the better. I’d much rather the neighbours looked on me as a potential asset than a waste of space….

….. though I still won’t be giving them too much info in case they decide to rely on me to feed everyone in a crisis.

Yet Another Boring Catch-up Post….

One of the things that does amuse me about being a survivalist is that you spend your time thinking about and mitigating risks that would make life exciting, as a result of which life largely just ticks quietly along. Nothing earthshattering has occurred, mutant zombies have failed to overrun the country, Ebola hasn’t quite managed to make it out of Africa (yet) and the economy is largely staggering from quiet crisis to quieter whimpering crisis in the usual manner. We have winter tyres on the cars so there isn’t even the minor excitement of a bit of wheel-spin on a frosty road to give us an adrenalin rush.

If I was feeling tin-foily, I might try to connect some dots with the revelations that the US infrastructure’s computing systems has been infiltrated by some nasty malware of suspected Russian origin, a comment made last year (I think) about the US regarding an attack on their computing systems as an act of war, the simmering civil war (with alleged Russian stirring) in the Ukraine, the price of oil, the fact that the US mid-term elections have left them with a Democrat president and a solidly Republican Houses of Congress and the odd snippet I once heard somewhere that the US president has almost no power except during times of war, when he gets a lot of powers handed to him.

If I’m going to go down that line of speculation, however, I shall end up with a spade in my hand marking out the spot to put in a bomb shelter in the garden, so instead I’ve spent the day, rather more usefully, mucking out the bunnies, sexing Jezebel’s 9 youngsters and splitting them up into boys and girls in different cages, weaning Delilah’s 6 fat fluffy kits, making sure Trudy has everything she needs for her litter (due tonight) and putting Jezebel back in with Samson to ensure we get another litter along in due course.

We’re still quietly pulling produce off the allotment and stashing it in the freezer; this week we’ve lifted most of the leeks and frozen them in batches ready to use, as we have with several more pounds of carrots and parsnips. There’s lots more carrots and parsnips to come yet, though I may declare a war on slugs soon if I find many more neatly hollowed-out swedes. The jerusalem artichokes, for reasons they haven’t chosen to share with the world, have decided to flower just as they’re dying back for the winter. Something to do with the unusually mild, warm weather, perhaps? Who knows. Once they’ve finished, I’ll dig ’em up and store them, anyway.

The allotment committee have decided that they’re going to put the rents up for the plots next year, so adding another increment to our incentive to bring vegetable production back home and out of anyone else’s control or (hopefully!) reach.