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Story ID:2989
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Broken Tree Ranch Montana USA
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Are You Joshin' Me?
by Kathe Campbell

Someone said, "Country living ain't all it's cracked up to be." Not so, our homes on splendid spots of earth are supremely blest, sweet pastures and woodsy acres we covet and hold dear. We can e-mail or phone one another at will, but it's more fun sitting in the middle of the road catching up on the latest. One truck pointed north, the other south as we lament the weather, a marauding cougar, who's sleeping with who - laughin' and scratchin' tween our driver windows. And before taking our leave, I complain the bow hunters are doing double takes at my donks all decked out in orange ribbons. And my friend lets me know my right front headlight is out.

Dang it, plans kicked in the head again, for I had other things in mind for my trek to town on that brilliant October morn. Our first big snowfall was melting on my little mountain ranch, and the tires kicked up splats of mud and horse guck all over my shiny black truck. Nonetheless, the dealership service doors raised and we were welcomed inside for a new bulb.

Upon lifting the hood, the service manager casually remarked, "I'm surprised we haven't made a rescue call out your way, Mrs. C. Look here, the mice have stripped off most of your insulation and possibly your wiring. I'll be happy to drop you and Corky off somewhere, or would you rather take him home? This will take us a few hours."

I stood stunned looking at the innards of my truck all grayish from our smoke-laden mountain fires throughout the summer, and the naked fire wall stripped bare to the metal. The ghastly thought of breathing in the deadly deer mouse Hantavirus from the heater or air conditioner crossed my mind and left me cringing.

I've wrestled with multitudes of pesky invasions around my place for near 30 years, rarely two plights at once - thank the Lord. Kamikaze swallows, horse flies, gophers, ants, and spiders. A spring ritual finds me surrounding my lodge with special granules to stop insects in their tracks -- but this has been the year of the mouse. The varmints climb upstairs via basement pipes under the laundry room, kitchen, and bathroom sinks. I plug the holes, but there's no keeping the little devils out when they've a mind to make my house theirs.

I hate using rodent repellent. The rascals prefer checking out beneath the warmth of various appliances, sending me on my belly with a yard stick and vac, dragging out the remains. Many is the morning I've been greeted with one or two drowned carcasses in Cork's water bucket, his majesty complaining that mouse flavor is not his thing.

My cats are good mousers outdoors, but lazy about bushwhacking outlaws sprinting across the carpet. The old General is hampered by the loss of an eye. He tries and is a deadly hunter when successful, but love his heart, successes have been his bugaboo. Then there's Spook, who views mice as toys until he tires of the game, rendering the creature half dead and no fun anymore. The sorry victim seeks solemnity in its demise and I'm left with a smelly corpse in, around, or under something, somewhere.

The day was long and draggy as always when Wal-Mart shopping, but I got much done, including a sorely needed haircut. While picking up prescriptions, my cell rang and it was Brian at the shop. "Your truck is all cleaned up and ready to go Mrs. C. The tech took out four mouse nests that were plugging filters and other vitals under your hood. We replaced a few wires that were nearly bare and I think I can safely say you'll not have this problem again."

"I won't? Why not? - or did you deposit a fat cat under there to scare away the vermin from my Silverado?"

"Well, not exactly," laughed Brian.

"Irish Spring!"

"You're joshin' me, the bar soap?" not quite believing what I had just heard.

"Yep, the tech strategically placed two bars under your hood. The mice hate it and shouldn't bother you again. We've had rave reviews from our customers."

"Holy moly!" I retorted smugly, "guess it can't be any goofier than my way of dispatching gophers."

"Oh yeah," queried Brian, "how's that?"

"Juicy Fruit!"

"You're kidding, the gum?" chortled Brian, the office crew looking up from their work, mouths agape.

"Yep, gets rid of most of 'em in early spring without harming the livestock. The worst part is unwrapping all that gum, then I hop on my ATV and make the rounds in the south pasture dropping Juicy Fruit down every hole."

Before leaving town I picked up a couple10-packs of Irish Spring, happily on sale. I dragged my tired carcass back to the service center, retrieved my truck and immediately noticed the difference in the way she ran while on my way to collect Cork at the vet.

Flush with 20 bars of Irish Spring, I could hardly wait to get home to the yellow leaves bidding their farewell and dead pine needles skittering across the pond. I've stashed bars of Irish Spring from hell to breakfast throughout this place, in cupboards, drawers, under sinks, the basement and garage. Nary a sign of little mouse turds all week, so next week I'll stock up again and hit the barn and tack room. And . . . if all that lovely soap doesn't do the job, I'll be the cleanest and nicest smelling old broad on my mountain. Ah yes . . .

Green acres is the place for me - Farm livin' is the life for me . . . . .