“If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods”, or as it is usually put,
“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I arrived home last night an owl flew in front of my headlights, which pleased me mightily, not simply because owls are magnificent creatures but because the presence of an owl means the absence of mice.
Mice are insidious pests in the garden, the more annoying because the damage they do is below the surface of the soil, so you aren’t aware of it until it’s too late. They like to nibble at roots and bulbs. Two or three generations ago every gardener kept enough strychnine and arsenic in the potting shed to keep mice at bay and Poirot busy for a lifetime, but poisons wouldn’t do in the kitchen garden. What would? One idea was to use the device pictured above, which shows a brick being suspended by a piece a string, which the mouse nibbles through, whereupon the brick falls and squashes it. This was described in Gardening Illustrated as “the most simple, inexpensive, and surest mouse-catcher ever invented”*. On the same page in the magazine is a letter from a reader in which he tells of the fun to be had hunting slugs, which are baited with piles of bran: “My sporting time is early morning (before breakfast) and evening, and I cut the slugs in two with a knife. I can safely say that with twopennyworth of bran, dotted down on my rockery, I have killed considerably over 1,000 in a few days, and still they come, only much smaller in size”.
*Gardening Illustrated October 11th, 1879