Every fall, armies of mice invade people\’s basements in Vermont. These are not the rat-like city mice, but adorable little country mice with big ears, bright little eyes set wide apart and tiny round bodies—so cute you want to make pets of them. (That, by the way, is what Beatrix Potter did—she tamed them and they ran around in her bedroom while she painted them.)
Mice in the basement don\’t really bother me. Mice in the house are another story. Yesterday, on the kitchen counter, I found some minute specks that I thought might be caraway seeds—except that they were too small for caraway seeds, and I don\’t think I have any caraway in the spice rack. So I alerted the official pest management expert, and he duly set a trap.
Which worked. This morning the OPME considerately emptied the trap before I got up, and hid the contents in an empty yogurt box before taking them to the chickens.
Yes, the chickens. You don\’t think we\’d waste a mouse, do you? A lovely bit of fresh organic protein in the middle of this barren season would cheer the hens no end. I was filling the chickens\’ water dish when the OPME came in with the yogurt box. He opened it, dumped out the little cadaver…I won\’t describe the scene, but will refer you instead to the Old Testament, to the part where Jezebel is thrown to the dogs.
We\’ve fed our chickens other kinds of exotic protein in the past. Back when we used a Japanese Beetle trap (we don\’t anymore, because they attract more bugs than they catch), we would empty it into a bucket of hot water, swish the beetles around and throw them on the compost pile. The hens would congregate around the bugs like party guests around the shrimp platter, and gorge until not a single one was left.
Tonight we\’re having spinach omelette for dinner (homegrown spinach, ditto eggs). When I crack open those pinky-brown eggs, I will remember the mouse, which, through the miracle of the hen, has been transubstantiated from pest to protein, and I will give thanks.