There has been plenty of activity about the place, spring and summer--so far. The latest bit of unpleasantness has just now been resolved, but not after at least a month-and-a-half of mystery and frustration. I first started noticing the disturbing odor in late May! At first I thought it was the pile of straw which I removed from the bird room and which rests out back, not too far (not far enough, at any rate) from the house. It's my intention to move the pile and move it I will, after several "must attend to's" have been attended to. I have certainly hoped that pile was the source of the odor, because it would be a simple explanation with an easy remedy. Yet, there have been suspicions that the problem might be something more difficult, specifically: mouse activity between the floors.
Oh, a mischief of mice practically over ran the place last month! Luckily, a solution presented itself before I had to resort to an unpleasantness I don't like to think about: killing. The solution was offered to me by the mice, themselves. Yes! They did indeed, teach me how to catch them... I keep my bird's seed in plastic containers under the kitchen counter. One of the containers is deep and stores parrot food. One morning I discovered that a mouse (with or without accomplices) had chewed through the hard plastic cover to gorge himself on pumpkin seed. It irritated me greatly that they had figured out how to reach the seed, so I purchased a heavy, heavy plastic pail with strong lid and started hiding the seed within.
Then my trip to NYC came up and I was away for 4 days. When I returned late that Tuesday evening--with a non-functioning car--I immediately noticed an unpleasant smell about the kitchen, but couldn't pin point it. It wasn't the garbage bins. Did I have some old, rotting food in the fridge? No. Two days later I had occasion to retrieve something from under the cabinet and discovered that the old plastic seed bin with the chewed hole in the cover contained 3 decomposing mice! Apparently they had crawled in through the cover, fell to the bottom, and could not get out. I felt badly they perished this way, but learned how to make a mouse trap for future needs.
The odor in the kitchen dissipated quickly. The persistent odor in the living room area, however, persisted. Returning from shopping this afternoon--an overcast, wet, rainy day with heavy atmosphere--the smell was getting my annoyance up. I poked around the eaves (I have 2 secret doors in both upstairs rooms that allow me to enter behind-the-scenes spaces up there.) and found a hole where mouse are able to enter, I believe from the outdoors but I'm not entirely sure about that. I will plug up that hole. Otherwise, the smell up there was nothing that alarmed me. There was nothing overwhelming about the musty, dry, attic odor. I was afraid my fear of mice between floors was going to turn out to be true. Still, however, there is that pile of straw out back.
About an hour ago I arose from the settee to go towards the bird room and as I passed the wood stove, it seemed to me the smell was strongest right there. But was it? Or was it my imagination? Well, I should at least open the stove and see if there might be an explanation within. There was.
So glad to have finally found the source of this malodorous air, but sad to discover two rotting red squirrels in the stove. I removed their decomposing carcasses and am at this moment burning some incense in the cavity of the stove.
The air around here is improved already.
It's country living, I understand this. I love the critters around here, but I do wish they could be a bit more diligent in observing boundaries! Next week I will get someone to cap my chimney. Squirrels have entered that 'door' for the 2nd time this year.