1. Someone has shredded the tag from your LP tank and left it on the patio with bits of straw.
2. Someone has been having a go at the grill wipes, plasticky package and all.
3. When you open the grill cabinet, you find a nest . . .
and several mice pretending they can't see you.
I will admit that I was tempted to leave this little problem to El Husbando, who is our resident wildlife enthusiast and the designated first responder when the critters come-a-calling. But EH was miles away supervising Isabel at a batting lesson. Waiting for him to come home and evict the mice would mean abandoning a dinner --grilled chicken and corn-- that was not only easy, but all ready to go. It would actually have been more work to come up with a new meal than to take care of the mice and proceed with the chicken. Plus, I'm not all that good with last minute meal changes. I get tied to the existing plan and resist all attempts, reasonable (i.e., we're out of tuna and noodles, so maybe we should consider making something other than tuna noodle casserole, or --just as a random example--we have mice in the grill so maybe we should try using the oven today) or otherwise (pleasepleaseplease can't we have pizza again tonight), to alter the menu.
The cat was all for roasting the mice right along with the rest of dinner, but she also eats flies, so I don't consider her a reliable culinary advisor. Instead, I tried to scare them out by banging the lid and slamming the cabinet doors.
Next, I put on some old shoes (I was barefoot, because I can do that at my own house, but I would have screamed like a little girl if they had scampered across my feet on their way out of the grill) and a lone winter glove that was lying around and removed the drip pan, which is where they had built their nest.
I even dumped the nest out onto the ground, but there was no sign of the furry buggers. I looked back inside the cabinet, and there they were, all three of them sitting on the drip tray supports and looking at me like I was the unreasonable one.
It turns out that you cannot dislodge mice by pushing the drip tray in and then taking it out and putting it in and taking it out again, no matter how many times you do this. One of them got annoyed and left out the back of the grill, but the others just hopped on and off the tray while I got madder and madder. In a last desperate effort to clear out the grill, I decided to stick my gloved hand in and (ew!) grab them. The mice thought this was a terrible idea. The bigger one fled out the side of the grill as soon as I got near him, but this little baby
slipped down to the bottom of the cabinet and then tried--rather pathetically--to scoot back up the walls to where the nest used to be. Poor thing. The grill cabinet is smooth metal and he was having no luck at all. When I reached for him, he ran to the other side, hid behind the propane tank where I couldn't see him, and stayed there while I fired up grill.
The grill is mouse free this morning, so I can only assume he made it out safely. I'm sure he and his family will soon be moving back into the garage, where they like to eat the grass seed and shred the tissues in my car, or into the barn, where they recently caused $400 worth of damage to the new mower. I think it might be time for some barn cats.
p.s. The chicken was very good, and not furry at all.