Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Monday, September 19, 2011


Definition of ratification as taken from the dictionary of Lynne:

The infiltration of one or more packrats inside the cabin, thereby allowing for one heck of a packrat party at our expense.

UGH. I hate packrats! We’ve always had to deal with them up here at the cabin getting under the hood of the truck and building nests, but NEVER in the house. You probably remember my writing about them.

Packrats love to collect things. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the things they hoard, just whatever attracts them at the moment. I guess they are known to drop an item they are carrying for another one if they like it better.

Before you start thinking oh, how cute! think again. They are not good to have around!

We got an email after we had left New Jersey from the people who watch and act as caretakers of our cabin in our absence. They said they had come over the other day to turn on our fridge and he found quite the mess. They had just been over to the cabin the week before to check on it and it was fine then, so at least the rodents hadn’t been inside for very long.

We didn’t know the extent of damage, only that it had been messed up and the unwanted visitors had been on the kitchen countertops, window sills, the bed, etc. With this in mind we gathered an arsenal of cleaning products at the grocery in Laramie.

The poor man scrubbed away the pee and vacuumed up what he could of all the rat turds and left windows open to air it out. By the time we arrived there was no odor (thank you Larry!) and it was hard to tell anything was amiss.

We were so tired and with the fiasco with the internet not working, we did minimal cleaning before falling into bed. I disinfected all kitchen surfaces including the stove, and most of the window sills, the table and anything that food would touch. Our bed looked okay and we couldn’t see that it had been bothered other than the rat running across the top of it, but we didn’t plan to sleep on top of the bedspread!

Then the de-Ratification began. Yesterday morning we tore the cabin apart, from top to bottom and cleaned every surface. Furniture pulled out, swept behind and floors mopped. Every flat surface was dusted and polished or cleaned with disinfectant. It was quite the job. We aired out the bed linen and changed the sheets. Upholstered chairs and couch were sprayed with Febreeze just in case. Nothing was left undone. Now the cabin looks great! We hadn’t given it such a deep cleaning in years.

While cleaning I found a packrat’s stash in one of the drawers of the breakfront we keep puzzles in and various things. When I saw it I knew for certain it was packrats and not just mice or chipmunks. Take a look.

IMG 5151

Before I realized what I was looking at I had removed a whole bunch of cat toys. At first I thought I had put them there, but I didn’t. So, here in the above photo we have: two stingy dried up cloves of garlic, one liquid cold pill (the orange thing), one piece of aluminum foil, cat toys, a pine cone, a nub of what was left of a candle,  a battery (just in case) and a piece of popcorn. Such treasures!

Larry stopped by this morning to see how we were doing and he said that at first he thought someone had broken in as there were towels, dried flowers and just things all over the place. Then when he smelled (and saw) the pee trails and rat turds he knew. But how did they get in? Good question.

We still are not sure how they got inside the house. I saw that above the fireplace screen there was some missing mortar with straw sticking out of the tiny gap. I took a clothes hanger and poked it around up inside the gap and rat turds and bits of nest fell out. They can’t get out this tiny gap and into the house.

We explored the outside of the house and found that the where the fireplace meets the logs the mortar had fallen out and left a gap large enough for the rats to get inside the framing of the fireplace. Their nest is somewhere outside of the fire box (so opening and closing the flue has no effect on them) and inside the framing. No way to get at them. We can only close the gap and hope they don’t get trapped inside with no way to get out. Nothing worse than the smell of a dead rodent!

So far we haven’t found a good answer as to just how they got inside the house. I hate to poison things, but that is what we are going to have to do. We tossed some inside the gap so maybe they will dine on that and leave us alone. For now we are stuffing a tarp in the gap to keep them out. We have someone coming on Friday that was actually one of the people who worked on building the cabin, so hopefully he can help us “bridge the gap” in a more permanent way.

It’s always something up here!


Oh my goodness.  I am so sorry you have “company”.  Thank goodness Larry found out before you got there.  We haven’t had one yet…that I know of anyway.  Our camper got overrun by mice one year…so scary expecially with a baby up there.  Oh, I wish I was up there too! Love crisp nights!

Plundering packrats!  (couldn’t resist—hahah)It is truly unbelievable what they can do and what they “collect”—-kind of like crows. They also pick up things they like-usually shiny objects.  You made me tired just reading about all the cleaning. Now ENJOY!!

Debra, I don’t honestly know what we would do without Larry and Donna! The days have been kind of “crisp” so far too! Just enough of a touch of fall in the air.

Bigsis, Hah! That would have been a great title for this blog post! smile We are done with the cleaning!

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