Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Your Strange Brewery News of the Day - Princeton Wisconsin

A while back I took a leisurely drive across the state, naturally avoiding contact with any presumably diseased human beings.  I had a long list of places to look in on.  Caves, cemeteries, roadside oddities.  But as with the best of all such wanderings I also came across some unexpected things.  Entirely by accident I ran across this sight in the little town of Princeton, Wisconsin.

An intact 19th century brewery.  Even in Wisconsin these are not common.  Here's the short version of its history.

It was started in 1857 when a certain August Weis moved to Princeton from Oshkosh Wisconsin. He left it for his wife to run when he went to fight in the Civil War.  Later the usual musical chairs partnership changes ensued.  The world of Wisconsin brewers was not that large and this enterprise seems to have been closely related in matters both fiscal and matrimonial to a family named Lutz who ran brewery in Steven's Point.  Remarkably I am not finding evidence of destructive fires that are so common in little breweries.  Perhaps this helped keep them solvent up to Prohibition....and even allowed a Post Volstead revival.  But it was not to last.  The Princeton brewery went out of the sudsy business for good in 1937.  Uses since then have been various and all of the sort we've seen before; mushroom growing, haunted house, antiques mall, warehouse, cheese factory.

Here's the impressive 1880's addition.  The tiger by the way is a nod to the mascot of Princeton University.

There was no sign of current activity so I strolled around a bit.  There was a steep bank going down to the river and it was the sort of place a brewery cave entrance might be found.  Not today though. I've gotten pretty good at interpreting various retaining walls and ramps but can't quite make this out as the approach to a cave.

I've also gotten quite good at correlating old maps, and this one shows the notation "cooling beer" at about the location seen above.  Of more import note the substantial ice houses.  While I don't doubt there could be a lagering cave from their early years somewhere it is probably not on location.  I did not see much in the way of decent rock structure in the immediate vicinity.

You could in theory poke around such places in a fashion more intrusive than peering from the property edge but I do not recommend it.  This photo actually is of the current owner.

I speak nothing but the truth here.  The brewery site is owned by the actor Michael Rooker and his wife.  I understand they have plans for a remodel that will make it an artist's community of some sort.  I wish them well.  But I'll wait for an invite to look any closer.  Mr. Rooker may well be a swell guy, and in fact from what I've read, he actually is.  But anyone who can convincingly play dangerous characters such as Yondo from Guardians of the Galaxy, Merle in the Walking Dead, and an assortment of serial killers, assassins and such over the course of a decades long career, well I'm going to respect the man's privacy!

Monday, December 28, 2020

The curious case of Captain Crunch

A while back I reported on the peculiar knock off cereal brands to be found at Aldi.  I actually took pictures of several, and one image just nagged at me.  It's this:

If you did not immediately think of Capn' Cruch then the copyright dodging generic peddlers should hire some new creative staff.  For comparison here is a genuine version.

Sure this appears to be some French Canadian variant but it highlights the question that started nagging me almost immediately.  What Navy did the Captain serve in, and was he really a Captain?

This question has been brought up before.  Back in 2013 a discussion thread arose that claimed that Capn' Crunch was a fraud.  Yes, based on his uniform he was felt to be no more than a Commander (in the modern day US Navy).  

The discussion can be found HERE.  It got picked up by various news sources including NPR.  I contend that they got it quite wrong and I'm here to stick up for the stumpy little sugar merchant.

There are plenty of images from commercials and other advertisements that agree with the image on the knock off "Krunch".  They all depict him existing in a world where the ships were powered by sail and had smooth bore cannon firing from enclosed gun decks.  That means somewhere in the century or two leading up to, roughly, the American Civil war.  After that it was steam power and Monitor style turrets.  As such, the first claim, that his three stripes indicate a lower rank, is specious.  We need to look at uniforms from the appropriate period.

When the Captain is heard to speak, at least in US commercials, he does not have a discernable accent.  So unless he was, say, a Loyalist serving in the Royal Navy after the Revolution we can focus on the early United States Navy.

The elements of the uniform that are of note are several.  Blue coat, high collar, three sleeve stripes, golden epaulets on both shoulders, and an odd period hat. to narrow this down?

In the first issued US Navy Uniform regulations (1797) epaulets were specified.  Captains wore one on each shoulder.  Lieutenants only on one.  Things got a big more complicated with the major revisions to uniform that came along in 1852 - when a matched set was allowed for lower ranked officers, but it is still a point in favor of the Capn'. In this as in many things the US Navy closely followed contemporary Royal Navy fashions.  In the US Navy by the way, epaulets were phased out in the 1930's which makes the determination of rank by modern standards just plain wrong.

In 1852 more specific regulations were codified.  These lasted with slight modifications through the Civil War period.  To summarize, an officer with the rank of Captain would wear a Navy Blue coat with two rows of large brass buttons.  A stand up collar was specified, of a height not to interfere with movement of the chin.  Cuffs were to have three bands of gold lace.  Here's an image of several officers in the 1852 version of dress uniform.  Note the Captain who is second from the right.  

Hey, it's all there.  True, Capn' Crunch is wearing his hat sideways.  Perhaps it was knocked askew by the same near miss explosion that detached both of his eyebrows and stuck them on the hat.  This would explain much including his generally daffy demenour.  Let's not be too hard on the guy.  It's really just a bit of shell shock not some poseur trying for a bit of nautical "Stolen Glory" status!  Besides, by long standing tradition the officer in command of any vessel, no matter what his actual rank, is always referred to as captain.  The word simply denotes "the head man", and is a term of respect afforded to those in charge of commissioned vessels ranging from mighty battle cruisers on down to dowdy supply ships laden with high fructose corn syrup.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

"CO, CO, CO-vid! Wary Christmas"!

Continuation of the Naughty/Nice theme of our last posting.

I have on the whole been quite Good regards Covid precautions.  My activities have been limited to walks and whatever indoor stuff I can amuse myself in the workshop.  I have not been to bars, nightclubs, fitness centers or other hotbeds of disease.  Why, I've not even attended any Implausibly Exempt Gatherings such as protest marches.  My contact with people outside the immediate two person household has remained the occasional masked trip to pick up essential provisions.  In general others are also compliant in such places.  In fact these days when you see someone's entire face it is jarring.  You notice it at a distance and keep it that way.

So it is quite unfair that I developed a stuffy nose and chills on the evening of 22 December.  These days you have to take such things seriously, especially when considering holiday interactions with anyone.  Testing was warranted.   

It took a few phone calls and a morning's worth of waiting, but by early afternoon I had experienced the joys of a nasal swab that, while not as bad as some claim, was by no means enjoyable.  And so began the wait.

The testing center was busy and they were moving people in and out at a good clip, and through different doors.  I've been to airports in the middle east with less security.  In passing I was given a pamphlet with instructions to go online and get results.  Alas, the first thing you had to enter was your Prestigious Clinic Number, and not being a regular customer there I did not have one.  Hmmmm, guess it is just wait for a call then.  So ends 23 December with a general promise of results in 24 to 48 hours.  I'm feeling better by now.  Thanks for wondering.

24 December.  Well it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Snow to move.  And instead of waiting for a phone to ring I actually can just check the internet.  Evidently on the basis of having worked for them long ago I DO have a Prestigious Clinic Number.  Go figure.  It makes me wonder how much addition Digital Detritus is out there.  By mid morning the moving pieces of  Christmas: people driving, scheduling zoom conferences, cookie sheets going in and out of the oven.... were underway.

I plowed a bunch of snow and shortly before 11 am got my test results.  I am a bit jaded by the medical system but not so much that I don't acknowledge good work when I see it.  This was done efficiently, in less than 24 hours and on the semi holiday Christmas Eve-Day to boot.

And the results?  When you shake and scrutinize any package this time of year you can get a fair sense of what's in it.  I predicted negative.  And was correct.

On several levels this is a nice present.  It makes seeing the Younger Generation more feasible.  My Better Half has gone back to simply regarding me with her usual suspicion rather than the Bring Out Your Dead level of the past 36 hours.  But as Christmas presents go this is in some ways in the Pair O' Socks category.

It would help my logistics for the next few months to have had reasonable confidence that I'd be immune to Covid.  And if it indeed was so mild that I shook it off with disdain then that's good.  Nobody wants to be that case on the evening news that expired in spite of vigorous health and telegenic good looks.  And I'll admit to being just a bit disappointed that I seem to have managed to catch a mild case of "something" despite, as mentioned at the onset, being well over on the Good side of the Good/Bad dial.  It is a veiled warning from the future....take better care of yourself.  So noted.

Hoping you all have an excellent Christmas.  And if you get a pair of socks, appreciate them.  I do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Strange Holidays

Not much snow.  Not much shopping, and what little there is consists of watching the porch for Amazon boxes.  Scaled back family gatherings.  It does not feel like Christmas.

But we  have a nice tree, made nicer by virtue of having been cut on our son's property after receiving grandkid approval.

True, the number of presents under it is minimal in this week before picture.  I admit to not being totally Good.  Also, if you've been following along on recent adventures you'll recall that Prancer is not going to show up for work this year....

We won't even have the usual crew on hand to set up a bizarre Christmas Tableau in the neighbor's yard.  Ah well, we make do with the resources at hand.  Sometimes a bit of additional recon can help.  Here's our guy working the stakeout from the concealment of our garage.  He's watching those next door types.  Watching  them very closely...

The additional complexity of travel and quarantine issues means that we won't really be exchanging gifts.  Much.  I don't think.  There will be a gathering in mid January where we hope to have all the seats at the table filled.....and I hear rumors that there might even be an extra chair pulled up.   

Best wishes to you all in this odd season.  May as many of your chairs be filled as possible and may any surprises you encounter be of the pleasant sort.  And be Good.  You know we are watching.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Ireland in Winter

It's winter for sure now.  Those of us in northern climes are hunkered down for a long cold season.  Not quite hibernating, but operating at a lower level of activity.  It's a good time to dream about travels.  My annual UK archaeology trip is still in "dubious" status.  Last year it was cancelled by Covid.  As was a second trip to Ireland.  Ireland of course was once known as Hibernia.  So, is everyone over there hibernating?  And what is the connection between the two words.  Clearly there must be one.

It's thanks to some illiterate sailors. 

But the starting point is of course from Latin.  Hibernare meant to "winter, pass the winter, occupy winter quarters".  

The Classical world became aware of Ireland fairly early, with the journey of the great Greek explorer Pytheas of Massalia (circa 320 BC) being the best recalled event.  Pytheas and no doubt other forgotten mariners learned that the locals called their land "Ierne".  This is from Old Celtic and gives us the alternate name Eire. Iouernia was one of several variants with the "io" sound coming through as "w".  Tacitus in 98 AD rendered this as Hibernia

So somewhere along a several centuries process of visiting the extremes of the Known World there must have been sailors on frail ships looking at a chilly coastline very far from their sunny Mediterranean homes.  When they heard that the natives called it something that sounded very much like "Winter" they said, presumably in Greek or Latin, darned right and just began calling it the land of hunkering down for a long cold time.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Castle Rock Brewery...corrected.

One of my very early brewery cave posts dealt with the history of a tiny brewery south of Fountain City Wisconsin.  You can read about it HERE .  As it happens I got the location wrong.  Hey, it happens.  This is a brewery that does not seem to be on any early maps, and the landscape has changed along the river courtesy of later road and rail development.

But, thanks to one of my Underworld Contacts, I can add to and correct the story.

This is reported to be an image of the brewery circa 1950.  It fits with the description of a small place with a log upper level which served as a residence.  The brewery was below.

And the site today.

This of course fits with the account of a cave exiting the lower level of the brewery.  Probably back in the day there was a nice little clear water stream running in front.  Now it's more of a dubious looking bog, but things change.

There is a story locally that after the building was demolished an old timer - one hopes the owner - wanted to enlarge the cave.  His ill advised use of dynamite to attempt same proved fatal.

This one is on private property, hence the roadside view.  There is a very nice looking new house under construction just to the left of this image and I do intend to stop by some pleasant summer day for a chat and to ask permission for a look inside.

I think the tales of bandits, Indian anxieties and dynamite will be intriguing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tree Shaped Tomb Stones - Captain Pruss

You find the darnedest things wandering around in cemeteries.  Evergreen Cemetery in Manitowoc had some interesting things to see.  Here's a tree shaped tomb stone.  A nicer than average specimen, sure.  But there is actually more going on here...

Here's the name, "Captain" Herman Pruss.  Anchors are reasonably common and often allegorical, but this one - coupled with the title - made me think Sea Captain; while his name suggested Prussian origins.  I was mostly right.

The anchor has a very nautical looking rope attached to it, and down at the very bottom are tiny little letters.  I never scrub or brush monuments so had to make do with what I could photograph.  With a bit of magnification it appeared to read "Kettenhoff" or something similar.

And here's the tale.

Captain Pruss was of course a German immigrant.  He was born in a coastal region, Schleswig-Holstein, and went to sea as a young man.  Rising from "ship's boy" to helmsman he presumably had a salty and adventurous life.  He came to the US in 1854.  Like most immigrants entered by New York but eventually ended up in New Orleans as he was sailing on the West Indies routes.  We tend to forget that there was a significant German community in the south as well as the north.  Herman Pruss ended up being drafted into the Confederate "military".  The source I read did not mention specifics here, the Confederate Navy was pretty small compared to land forces but I do like to imagine that his skills would be put to use as say, a blockade runner.

In any event there do not seem to have been serious hard feelings post Civil War, at least for southerners coming north.  He moved to Manitowoc in June of 1868 (marrying about two weeks later, so perhaps arranged?), and had a career on Great Lakes ships where his moniker Captain was acquired by virtue of his being the skipper of several vessels.

Later in life he ran a tavern.

The inscription on the anchor is not, alas, the name of one of his ships.  But just as delightfully it is another rare case of a monument carver signing his work.  Nicholas Kettenhofen was a "marble cutter" who worked out of the Northwestern Hotel.  A family business, the other two Kettnhofens in the city directory were the proprietor of the house and a woman who was the chief cook.

I should credit the work of others here. has much carefully researched data on 19th century cemeteries.  HERE is the write up on Captain Pruss.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Weird Shopping - More Pandemic stock ups

One of the things I'll remember from the great Covid pandemic - assuming I'm around to do so - will be the weirdness of grocery shopping.  As straying from your fortified bunker is viewed as grave peril trips to the store have been less frequent, for greater amounts of supplies, and somehow more anxiety producing.  This from someone who does not much care for shopping under the best of conditions.

Recently we made a run to Aldi.  This is an odd chain of stores.  It's a German company with 10,000 stores in 20 countries.  They are of course clean and efficient.  And the quality of their goods is pretty good....if more than a little peculiar.

Aldi typically has a mix of brand name and generic knock offs.  Also a wide selection geographically, with lots of European influences.  Maybe with a few concepts that don't translate well across oceans.  Here's a few oddities, things that caught my attention instead of being helpful to the Quartermistress General in her work.

This was in the cheese department.  Flavored Goat Log Assortment.  I wonder if this is a big deal in Germany?  Putting it through Google Translate it comes out as: "Aromatisierter Ziegenstamm".  Which actually does sound better.  Also in the cheese department was this product.  Am I the only one who saw the name and had a horrific vision?

Without even leaving the cheese and sausage cooler there was also this gem.  These are American products so I can't blame language or cultural difficulties for the oddness.  

That's a Jackalope.  And some kind of large, obese, flightless bird.  In slapping together a link I was amazed to learn that creatures akin to Jackalopes appear in natural history books as far back as the 13th century!  These were likely normal rabbits infected with a papilloma virus that caused them to grow large warty growths.  Yep, just what I want in my lunch.

The saddest find of all was in the kids cereal section.  There have always been choices between brand name cereals and generic knock offs.  Not, mind you, in the sugar content which is impressive in both.  No, it shows up more in things like how fast you have to eat it to avoid it turning into a disgusting brightly hued sludge.  Oh, and the art work is better on the real versions.

Here is brand name "Lucky Charms", a concoction that I enjoyed on occasion back in the day.  Lucky the Leprechaun has been modernized a bit.  

Manic little imp, isn't he?  This wretched stuff was launched back in 1964 when a General Mills exec experimented by adding chopped up "Circus Peanuts" to conventional sugar bomb cereal.  It has been an enduring success.

But oddly, there was an attempt in the mid 1970's to replace Lucky with an absent minded magician called Waldo the Wizard.  The concept was dutifully test marketed....weirdly being very popular in New England but in the rest of the US, not so much.

It was decided to just make Lucky cuter.  Get rid of any implication that the leprechaun might be holding out on you with respect to that whole pot of gold thing.  Ease up on the "Oirish" accent that in a less sensitive era was code for "Aye needs a drink badly m'lad"  The Wizard vanished.

Or did he?  Here in the starkly lit aisles of Aldi have I found the otherwise worthless copyright image of Waldo the Wizard?  Or is it just a grim vision of what Lucky will look like on the day that his dipsomaniac life style, raging diabetes and true age become manifest?

Friday, December 11, 2020

Back to the Woods

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said that there are no second acts in American Life.  I guess there are exceptions though.  In Wisconsin there is a very detailed analysis of white tail deer populations and of the annual harvest through bow and gun hunting seasons.  If there are still a lot of deer roaming about a short four day "second season" happens.

Lest you judge this heartless, the deer population is carefully managed for good reasons.  White tail deer were once much less common.  In the 19th century we logged off the northern half of Wisconsin and covered the southern half with farms.  Effectively the state became a giant feet lot for deer.  Left to their own devices there would be more deer starving in the winter.  Or smacking into cars year 'round.  Oh, no doubt the modest extra boost to the local economy is a minor factor in the extended deer season.  For what it's worth there are other little special seasons for muzzle loaders, youth hunters and so forth.

This time I'll be hunting on my own, just the Better Half back at the cabin for support staff.  Actual real life has more influence on my kids than it does on me.  In addition to employment they also have to figure in minimizing any possible Covid exposure in the lead up to Christmas gatherings...

So, back to the woods.

I started the day with a great plan.  A stand was set up overlooking a promising trail.  I had made a lightweight gun rest out of various "stuff" from the robotics stockpile.  I had the scope zeroed in on where the deer should be.

It totally did not work out.  A nearby cabin that is never occupied this time of year, was.  I suspect its a Covid telecommuting situation.  The deer were put off by this and even if I had spotted one I'd be reluctant to disturb these nice neighbors with artillery fire.

So for the evening hunt, another approach. 

Down the road a little ways is a parcel of public land that is adjacent to a former golf course.  The local gentry, actually a very prominent family of industrialists, bought the golf course and just let it revert to nature.  I think this is some combination of tax write off, laudable interest in land conservation...and an excuse for them to have some great hunting land all to themselves.  Really, there's deer eating former golf course grass right out in the open.  And overlooking it all there are several swank hunting stands.  Here's one of them.

Very deluxe, as you'd expect.  I've known people who hunt in such splendor to actually take naps, listen to podcasts.  Maybe they check their emails and run their business empires.  Well, this is just the other side of the fence dividing private and public land.  On my side I've set up this hillbilly deer stand:

Just a cheap folding chair, one my wife was encouraging me to discard.  I put a few strips of orange fabric up to help me find it in the dark.  And to show it has not been casually dumped.  

For the evening hunt I sat there in comfort.  I could see deer munching contentedly off in the distant safety of the golf course.  As light was fading I was surprised by two deer that just materialized somehow 50 yards away from me.  I never heard 'em.  But I did see them. 

I am not at this stage of my hunting experience a great marksman.  But I'm able to report that I did make a clean shot dropping my deer about 20 feet on the proper side of a large NO TRESPASSING sign.

A fun day and a fun experience overall.  With the extra effort I was able to make us 3/3.  This will be the benchmark for future hunts.  I also learned a lot and had a chance to enjoy some quality family time in a year when we all could use more of it.
1. It has been pointed out that in dim light that folding chair looks like the biggest white tail deer butt in the world.  I should have, and certainly shall, cover it with orange before its next deployment.
2. I dragged the deer out of the woods myself, the better part of a mile.  That's why I'm not wearing orange in this photo.  I was pretty warm by that point and had shed a layer.
3. This is a "nubbin buck".  That counts as antlerless.
4. The history of deer population numbers is more complicated than I made it sound.  I'm still studying past numbers.  But current numbers are robust.
5. I'll be giving a program - alas virtually - for the local Learning in Retirement group in March. I'll post a link if anyone else out there is interested in taking up deer hunting in their "over the hill" years.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Freezing for a good cause.

When your grandchild wants you to come do something with him/her it's really a no brainer.  You do it.  After all, the opportunities are finite.  So.....I got to go along ice fishing.

For my friends from civilized parts of the world this means you go out onto the frozen lake, drill holes in it, put down lines and wait for something to happen.  Or maybe not.  You typically sit on overturned five gallon pails.  This by the way is another odd little facet of Midwestern American life that few outsiders experience.

There are various ways to fish.  We were using "tip ups".  These are spring loaded lines with bright orange flags.  When a hungry pike grabs the minnow and starts running with it, the flag goes up.  You slip and slide across the ice to try and reel him in.

It's been many years since I've done this.  Truth be told I find it much less enjoyable than summer time fishing.  There's lots of sitting around.  And it's cold.  Also in the early part of the season it's a little scary.  The ice has only been forming for a couple of weeks.  It's thick enough, so I was assured, but it makes creepy groaning and grinding noises.  Also, you see way too many cracks and fissures.  And ominous sights like this:

In the end of course it was all uneventful. Both for us and for the fish.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Forgotten Brewery Caves - History, Geology and Mushrooms

No locations post today.  But I recently had a chance for a quick peek into a brewery cave that I'd known about for a while.  This was an odd one with more than the usual number of interesting features.  My main interest was to determine if it was a bat hibernation site which proved not to be the case.

Short and admittedly incomplete history.  Civil War vintage, various destructive fires and frequent changes in ownership, a shutdown for Prohibition and a modest post-Prohibition revival.  After the brewery went under for good the cave was used to grow mushrooms for a while in the 1970's.  Given the several phases of the business I was expecting to see 1860's original features, modifications for the brewery's heyday in the 1870's and 80's, maybe a little from the "lost years" when it would have likely just been storage space, then some remnants of the mushroom growing project in the 1970's.  Here we go...

Probably the original stonework arch with later brick addition.

Clearly there was some modern cement added when the cave was put back into service roughly 50 years ago.

Here is a "backwards look" view that shows the various phases well.  I do note just a few of the white dots that annoy me so much with cave photography.  I've taken to carrying a small light with a sort of gentle glow.  This seems to help a lot with photo quality.  Stirred up dust also may be a contributing factor.  This cave was damp so there was none of that going on.

Stone and brick work notwithstanding this is essentially a rock excavated cave.  Many such were expansions of existing caves and niches.  This particular cave went back 40 feet or so, then took a 90 degree turn into this room.  The ceiling has had a big chunk peel off and fall.  There is a lot of mineral dissolved in the water that drips continuously from the roof.  It is forming little stalactites and flow stone formations.  I'm not sure what is reflecting the flash off that back wall.

Another look back view.  Along the left wall are the crumbled remains of wooden shelving as well as what appear to be deteriorating bags that may have contained peat moss.  These must be remnants of the mushroom growing operation.  The orange extension cord looks a bit newer but who knows.  The asymmetry of the cave with respect to the archway is pretty odd.  I wonder if once they got the excavation underway they found harder or softer stone that influenced the direction.

An interesting cave.  The condition of the back room is a bit dubious but overall this one is in good shape.  Always fun to find a cave with odd features that make me think.

Still, it would have been nice to find another bat "hibernaculum" - that being the places they hibernate in - I think my count of new ones I've found for the DNR stands at five.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Tree Shaped Tombstones - Marshfield Wisconsin

Here's a couple of Tree Shaped Tombstones from Marshfield Wisconsin.  The town by the way is mostly known for its big Clinic/Hospital.  This cemetery is conveniently across the street.

Difficult light conditions on this photo.  I can't always choose the time I pass through a distant community.

Occupational monuments are always interesting.  Any guesses on this one?

Here's a oddball.  It is made of some harder, lighter colored stone.  So not the usual limestone but some kind of granite.  And it is also a bit of an "occupational" monument.  Note the crossed cannon and ammunition?

The gentlemen reposing here was a certain Ernst Schmidt.  

Schmidt was born in Dresden and immigrated to the US in 1860.  He enlisted in the Union army specifically the 2nd Wisconsin Light Artillery.  After serving for just over a year he was transferred to reserve status in September of 1862 due to disability.

Post war he lived variously in Michigan and Wisconsin at one point running a hotel and later a "mercantile" business of some sort.  He seems to have taken lasting pride in his military service.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Snappy Times at the Hungry Mouse Cafe

I have a general live and let live attitude towards nature.  Almost all the fish I catch get released.  Bats that find their way into my home are gently escorted out.  When chipmunks become a garden nuisance I safely live trap them, take them across the river and release them.  I think they race me home.

But I do draw the line on carpenter ants and mice when either is inside my house or our up north cabin.  Ants will eventually eat your building.  Mice, well there's Hanta Virus, the fact that they harbor deer ticks that carry Lyme disease.  And all those little droppings.  Everywhere.

So it's a running battle.  One in which my grandson is a loyal foot soldier.  Mice outside:  good.  Mice inside: trap 'em.

Recently he spied the likely entry point from garage to domicile and we happily worked together to seal it off.  Since then there have been no mice caught in the house.  But they seem to still be present in the attached garage in abundance.  

We had a puppy visitor recently so had to do something other than strew traps about randomly.  We decided to modify a cardboard box as The Hungry Mouse Café.

As you can see it has two doors and considerable decoration.  The little brown ovals are drawn on mouse droppings.  We figure they'd just follow the trail right on in.

This was originally a box of "Cheesecake" frozen treats, which seems a nice bit of advertising.  Note the five star rating and the peanut butter pie.  Note also that there are three loaded mouse traps inside.

So how did it work out?  Well, I came back a few days later and found a full house.  Looks as if a very wild time was had after hours at the Hungry Mouse Café!  Ugh...what a party.

Update.  Since I wrote the above, we found a little niche that the mice must have been using to gain entry.   With that blocked the number of mice caught in the garage went to zero.  Oddly, two weeks on there was a single mouse caught in the house.  I figure he was a lone survivor who had been wandering in what must have seemed to him an empty post rodent Apocalypse.  Mice are not particularly deep thinkers but he must have wondered:  "Hey, in all the stories I've heard its us and the cockroaches who rule after the humans are all gone.  Now, they are still here and I'm the last of my kind.....what gives?"