I first saw him one winter afternoon in my garage.
He was sitting on the brick ledge adjacent to the back door, gingerly nibbling on a sunflower seed, one of several I had spilled while filling my bird feeder. He seemed somewhat unconcerned with my arrival but kept both eyes on me as he finished his afternoon snack.
The little mouse was no more than two inches long, three if one included the tail, with dark black bulging eyes that watched my every movement.
My first thought was “how do I get this mouse out of my garage?”
The typical options were trapping or poisoning, but there was no way I could kill this personable, little ball of fuzz that sat innocently watching my every movement.
I decided that little Mickey and I could co-exist.
Often when entering the garage I would see Mickey scurrying along the ledge, and we would exchange greetings, mine being “Hello, Mickey” and his greeting was by standing on two legs and cocking his head to one side, as if listening.
I found myself looking forward to our brief, friendly encounters.
I kept a five-gallon bucket of sunflower seeds in my garage and used these to refill my bird feeder once a week. When scooping out the seeds, a few seeds were dropped on the floor for Mickey’s weekly treat.
A month passed before I next saw Mickey. I had left the lid on the seed bucket slightly askew, and on removing it, I was surprised to see the half full bucket of seeds appeared to be moving. As my eyes focused on the dark seeds, I found Mickey emerging from the seeds.
Poor Mickey panicked and tried desperately to jump vertically out of the bucket, but the seed level was so low, the little fella could not reach the top of the bucket and freedom. Still, he tried over and over but to no avail, until he fell back (exhausted, I thought).
I found a small board and placed it on an angle down into the bucket, providing an escape ramp for frightened Mickey. He wasted no time scaling the ramp and disappearing behind my workbench.
With Mickey safe, I filled my scoop and went out to the bird feeder.
My scoop was fashioned out of a half-gallon milk jug cut in half. This would allow me to scoop seeds into the neck of the bottle. I could then hold the mouth of the jug over the top of the tubular bird feeder, where I could remove the cap from the mouth of the jug and feed the seeds into the feeder without spilling.
Having set Mickey free, I carried the scoop full of seeds to the feeder and removed the cap to allow the seeds to flow into the feeder. To my surprise, no seeds flowed from the scoop. It was only when I shook the scoop to free the seeds that I saw it: a little, black tail protruded from the mouth of the jug. Evidently, after freeing Mickey, I had scooped up Minnie from the seed bucket. I had no idea that Minnie even existed.
With apologies to Mickey, I set Minnie free and released her in the yard.
I feel a little sad for breaking up Mickey’s relationship, but a mouse family I don’t need.
Hopefully, Mickey and I can still be friends.