location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
When I checked the mouse traps this morning, none of them had been triggered. If there was a mouse still in the cabin, he or she must've cached food somewhere else to survive on (so as to not depend on raiding a trap that might be triggered). I had a gnawing hangover after overdoing it last night (the cannabis had also made me extra paranoid and given me frightening waves of over-stimulation). So today I didn't drink any alcohol or take any drug except coffee and ibuprofen.
My first task this morning was to rework the landscape at the northeast corner of the cabin, the place where I'd dug a drainage trench eastward. I'd brought some four inch drainage pipe in case I wanted to make that trench erosion-proof. But looking at it further, I decided it would be much more useful to have a drainage trench running through the low hump of landscape to the north of the cabin. That way the trench could also also serve as a pathway to connect up with the trail down to the dock. If some day I get a powerful all-terrain battery-powered bicycle capable of climbing the slope up from the dock (making getting to the dock and back effortless), it would be nice to have a convenient place to charge it. Since there is already electricity and shelter from the rain beneath the decks accessible from the cabin's northeast corner, it would make sense to have a nice path up to it. So I cut away a few branches and a small sapling in the pathway I intended to build and then proceeded to dig through the hump of sandy soil blocking drainage to the north. I only had to dig down about a foot or so before the trench was deep enough to drain the basin at the cabin's northeast corner. To make the new path as gentle as possible, I threw the soil I was removing down lower on the path to build it up, producing (after not much effort) a satisfyingly-sloped path about eighteen inches wide. This would be too narrow for an actual ATV, though it wouldn't take much additional work to widen it for such vehicles should the need ever arise.
Once that I was done, I dragged a number of old rotten logs up out of the woods and put them on a layer of old leaves (some of which were freshly-fallen; fall seems to have already begun) to thwart any erosion in the modified landscape low on the new path.
I spent much of the rest of the day in the basement of the cabin, cutting sheets of 3/4 inch styrofoam (which had been part of the packaging for some of the cabin's furniture) and using it to cover all the exposed concrete in the bulkhead foundation under the Bilco doors. Recall that last week I insulated the outside of that bulkhead foundation down to a depth of about 30 inches. But, since the way these bulkheads work is to freely allow in cold air through the Bilco doors, it's important to also insulate the concrete surfaces on the inside of the bulkhead. The idea is that if you can see exposed foundation concrete, you must be in a heated space. Fortunately, there were only a dozen or so square feet of concrete to insulate inside the bulkhead. I'd already put a sheet of styrofoam (covered with rubber kitchen mats) on the exposed slab inside the bulkhead, so all that required covering was the exposed triangles of concrete on either side (and above) the wooden stairway as well as the side of the west section of slab (which, as you'll recall, is about a foot higher in the western third of the basement, a transition that occurs in the west wall of the bulkhead enclosure). Having learned my lesson with foam board adhesives, I did all the gluing of this styrofoam using Gorilla Glue, which meant I didn't have to wait very long for it to set. The arrange of sticks holding the foam in place was something of a Jenga puzzle in that if one stick was knocked loose, there was a chance that it would dislodge others in a cascading catastrophe. (See the photo below.)
At some point I came across an immature mouse just lying in the middle of the floor. It was about half the size of an adult mouse and looked capable of most adult functions, but it was either too weak or naive to attempt to flee from me when he or she saw me. I could also hear it making some sort of high pitched squeak. Evidently some mice had managed to give birth to babies in the basement, and now that I'd trapped and removed the parents, the babies were so hungry that they'd set out on their own in a doomed effort to find something to eat. I gathered the poor creature up in a container and took him or her outside, placing him or her among the erosion control sticks just north of the Bilco doors. I figured the parents could find the baby there and provide care. In case they didn't, I also put a teaspoon of birdseed under the baby mouse.
I've continued to survey the basement for any signs that mice may have opened up a means to get in from the outside. I focused mostly on wall penetrations, which allow a mouse to visualize (and smell) the world they want access to. Most such penetrations had been sealed with foam, but evidently the penetration carrying the DC wires from the roof-mounted solar panels weren't sealed as well (since they were installed by a separate contracting team from the guys who built the cabin), and this had caused one or more mice to chew away all the foam from around the steel conduit cable carrying those wires. This chewed-away foam had formed a substantial pile of small foam pellets on the floor behind the hot water heater tank. Once through the foam, the mice had continued a little way into the wood, but hadn't been in much danger of getting through.
I went to bed a little after 9:00pm and then awoke at what I thought (due to the light) was something like 6:00am. But it was just the light of the moon and it was only a little after midnight. I went to check the mouse traps, and immediately I heard a gnawing sound coming from one of the new long-throated traps. It was the one of the six I'd baited with birdseed (instead of the recommended peanut butter) and was over near the hot water heater tank. I took the trap out to the back of the cabin and released the mouse. Interestingly, the mouse didn't immediately dart into the shadows but instead kept racing around nearby, staying visible far longer than I would've expected.
I went back behind the cabin later and saw that there were now two deer mice galloping all over the place, occasionally making sounds I could hear on the steel Bilco doors. They seemed very excited, perhaps because they'd just been reunited after a week-long separation. When I appeared, both mice vanished into an inch-wide hole in the corner of the Generac generator (such holes are there by design; evidently mice inside a generator are not much of a problem). The mice then both lingered in the hole, watching me with their beady eyes. Briefly I was concerned that they might then gain access to the cabin via a conduit carrying wires from the generator to a box in the basement. But when I examined that conduit, I saw it was far too full of wire for anything as big as a mouse to move around in.
Still later, I went back behind the cabin again and this time saw just a single mouse leaping up against the one north-facing basement window. After one failed attempt, the mouse leapt again and vanished. I went over to see where the mouse had gone and saw he was actually on top of the window pain, hiding in the track it slides back and forth in. To give you a sense of what a feat of athleticism getting there had been, imagine a human who is able to leap 20 feet vertically into the air and end up feet-first in a two-foot-wide sewer pipe overhead. Momentarily, I was concerned that the track atop the window pane might give a mouse access to the inside of the basement, but further investigation showed that the track did not connect with the basement's interior space.
Props holding the styrofoam against the concrete walls on the inside of the basement entrance bulkhead. In the lower left is the side of the higher slab present in the west-most third of the basement.
Foam gnawed away by mice from around the solar cable conduit.
Releasing the mouse a little after midnight.
A mouse hiding in the track atop of one of the basement window panes.