Uninvited Critters

My sweet woodstove

My sweet woodstove

My wood stove is getting a good workout for the first time in many years.

Like so many young homeowners in the late 1970’s we purchased a wood stove for our country house and me, the young wifey was responsible for the care and maintenance of said appliance. I stacked, toted, and occasionally split the lengths of firewood and was in charge of making sure the fire was up and roaring early in the morning to take the night’s chill out of the house. I cleaned the ashes out daily and disposed of them in the garden to boost the soil for the vegetable garden I planted each year.

Needless to say this wore thin once the price of wood continued to creep up and the cost of heating oil came down. The wood stove sat, unused for almost 15 years. Until this winter.

Divorce is nothing if not a creator of realities. Where before I had the steady income of my own business and that of a husband, I am now dealing with divorce settlements which, If I am very frugal might last me till I am dead. Perhaps not in a falling economy and the fear of living on tea and kitty kibble made me learn to economize in surprisingly creative ways.

 I lit the wood stove about a month ago for the first time in years and suddenly I felt that intense radiant warmth from it that I had long forgotten. Sitting by it on a cold day when the wind has sucked the warmth from my fingers and toes and no wooly cardigan is sufficient to take away the shivers in my body I settle down with a sigh of contentment.my pile o' wood

 I didn’t even mind the woodpile and the carrying of logs to the log ring on the porch outside the front door. I gathered fallen branches from around the edges of the fence line and stacked them for kindling in a basket by the door. The smell of woodsmoke is like perfume to me.

But what I do mind are the uninvited critters that make their homes in the woodshed and even on the logs themselves! I was restacking some wood which had fallen from the woodpile last week when I decided to neaten up the woodshed. I picked up a tarp that I had place over the potting table and as I lifted it the the tiny clay pots stacked so neatly  came alive ! Mice, dozens of them began pouring out of the flower pots! A veritable fountain of mice erupted, jumping and running and flinging themselves off the table in search of cover! I shrieked! My skin crawled! I ran, flinging the tarp as I gasped in horror at the scene!36_mice_wide1

I can handle snakes. I grew up in Florida where snakes are just part and parcel of the landscape. But there are two things that skeeve me the fuck out and that’s mice, well rodents in general, and spiders! The other thing about burning wood is the fact that spiders live under the bark of the wood so that bringing wood into your house also brings those disgusting creatures into your house! I have seen them creep out, those loathsome black wood spiders, then run under the baseboard where they wait for the can of Raid I haul out to kill their asses!  I feel horror in imagining them crawling out and setting up house in MY house!


Florida Wolf Spider

 When I was a little girl living in a Cracker house in Central Florida I used to sit on the toilet in our house and watch as these giant wolf spiders spin webs in the corner of the bathroom. They were as big as a small child’s hand, these loathsome creatures and that’s where I learned my fear of spiders. My mother wouldn’t kill them because they ate the cockroaches!  Ah, my childhood. What a time that was. Imagine having to do your business in a room where no sane person would venture, your little legs dangling there while you pray for a fast poop so you can get the FUCK OUT!

 I have since returned to the woodpile but I carry a long stick with which I pound the woodpile to send the critters  a warning before I pick up the first piece of wood. So far, so good.

17 comments on “Uninvited Critters

  1. “Imagine having to do your business in a room where no sane person would venture, your little legs dangling there while you pray for a fast poop so you can get the FUCK OUT!”


    I once was the caretaker of the family wood stove too. Fortunately, I lost custody of the thing in my divorce, but you brought back nice memories of the coziness of those contraptions. Then you brought back memories of all the creepy crawly country critters, and I got back to reality. I’ll just warm myself by your descriptions, rather than fend off those spiders and mice. 🙂

    MB McQ- Hey, Girl! How’s Tex-ass?
    Thanks for such a great comment! Reality bites! I’m glad you are in a warm and cozy place ( at least I am assuming it’s warm where you are.) My woodstove will have to do for me but like they say ” Wood warms you three times! Once when you cut it, once when you stack it, and again when you burn it!” 🙂

    Hugs to you!

  2. I think you just freaked me out for life!

    kaylee- It freaked ME the hell out! I had the creepy-crawlies for days! Yuck! It was like a horror movie!!

  3. That’s why I have three cats. They eat all bugs and kill all mice. We do get the occasional mouse in the house. The cats love to catch spiders and are very good at it. We have a fireplace which really doesn’t heat up anything but I still like to light it. I agree with you about the smell of burning wood.

    joan- ahh, yes, the scent of a wood fire… it makes me feel all warm and cozy. I use my fireplace very often! If I get it going for an hour or two then the stones heat up and throw some of that heat back onto the room but mostly it’s just magically beautiful and mesmerizing!
    No cats here, unfortunately but I am considering it. My pantry traps have been getting quite a workout this past month!

  4. That Florida Wolf Spider is a mighty purdy critter. I love it.

    anja- I give him to you. He’s yours! Love him if you will just keep him away from me!!

  5. I love my mouse hunting kitty cats who also chase any spiders they can reach……… that is of course providing that any manage to get past the surface spray barrier around all our doors and windows!

    bettina- I just cancelled my contract with the exterminator. I had them come several times a year for the past ten years but hnestly they got to be too expensive. I find I can do just as good a job as they did for a fraction of the cost. And since I am well past my reproductive years, my fear of pesticide spray is much lower! I do think a kitty would do well here though. I’d have to put it on a diet soon though with all the mice I’ve been seeing! 😯

  6. We have a fireplace, but we’ve never used it. I’m afraid we’ll burn the house down. 😕 That and it would just add work to the pile, which I’d rather not do. If I had the money I’d have it removed and replace it one of those gas or electric fireplaces. I think those are pretty cool, and low to no maintenance. 😉 They wouldn’t bring the bugs and mice either. 😛 Poor baby.

    Peter- Thanks, hon, for the “poor baby”. 🙄

    Oh, for cryin’ out loud! Light the fireplace! Well, if you’ve you’ve had a chimney sweep check it out in the past couple of years anyway! Bunny would love it! So what if it’s a little work. Think of the romantic possibilities, Spidey!!!

  7. “We have a fireplace, but we’ve never used it. I’m afraid we’ll burn the house down”

    IS it the fireplace peter or you? If, its you i am never getting near your neighborhood 😉

  8. BTW did my latest email i sent tyou get there my email has ben a bitch lately!

    kaylee- did you mean me or Peter? I haven’t gotten one from you in a few days if it’s me you’re talking to.

  9. That top picture just about made me homesick.

    Mice I don’t mind at all, as I’m sure you know. The spiders would send me packing! I was thinking that I didn’t remember mice being in there, ever, but then, DUH! We had all those cats growing up. Occasionally I would go into the wood shed as a kid and find TREASURE, remember? Kittens! Well, that was treasure to me back then, LOL.

    Are you really considering getting a cat???

    birdpress- aww, BabyGirl! I miss you!

    Yeah, that woodstove has some good memories behind it, eh? Remember how you used to practically crawl on TOP of it in the mornings to get warm? Your sis hogged the kitchen vent! 😀

    You and your kittehs. Yes, you found “Treasure” on a regular basis, if I recall properly. All the kittehs loved them some birdpress!! They knew a good thing when they saw it and you were such a softy!

    Nah, no cats in my immediate future but sometimes I am awfully tempted. I could use a lapwarmer on cold nights when D’Bear is gone. 🙂

  10. A fellow rodent hater? Oh, they are the WORST! The worst! And, you poor little dear, trying to make your poopie real fast to escape the mega spider! Shoooot girl! I’m glad you got your wood burning stove going though, I have to admit- it sounds absolutely wonderful- I just wanna sit there too, drink coffee and knit up a storm in front of a crackling fire! Need company?

    JQ– Oh HELL yeah! Come on in, JQ! Bring your knitting and I’ll supply the coffee, (and Baileys) and the warm fire! I have been crocheting lately. I knit but not well. Maybe you could give me some knitting tips? We gots Christmas presents to make!!! 😀

  11. I love a wood stove. And a good pot of chili sitting on top of it on a cold day.

    Evyl-Yeah, and when the power goes out, as it does often, I have a source of heat and a way to make dinner! Ah, the place is filling up! JQ is sitting over there knitting and you are at the stove stirring that rich, spicy chili, and I’m bringing in more wood! HA!

  12. We had a woodstove installed in our first home. All winter a huge black kettle sat on the back of the stove, simmering away, ready for coffee or tea. On weekends I’d start a pot of soup or stew and it would cook gently all day on top of the stove until dinnertime. We even baked potatoes once in the ashes around the edge of the burning mallee stump.

    river- that sounds so wonderful. Do you miss it?
    Oh, and I don’t know what a mallee is. ???
    I do remember baking potatoes around the edge of our Girl Scout campfire one time. They were the best I’ve ever eaten. I think this woodstove would most like just incinerate them. It gets HOT!!

  13. Pingback: Hey Trisha… « * * * HATE ~ & ~ ANGER * * *

  14. Don’t ya just love country livin? I don’t mind all the critters as long as they stay the f*ck away from me and the inside of my house.

    Btw ~ I simply adore your wood floors.

    Betme- Yes, I do love the country and I’m with you on the critters staying the hell outa my house..and my studio and my garage. There’s nothing worse than opening a drawer and finding evidence of “others”. Ewww……
    Thanks for the nice comment on my floors. They really need to be resanded and resealed though. They’re in much worse shape than it appears from that picture.

  15. oh god – we don’t pay an exterminator.

    We fork out $20 and spray around the house ourselves a couple of times a year. Usually keeps most of the creepy crawlies out (we are due for another spray now though).

    Bettina- Yes, that’s what I plan to do from now on. I figure that even if I bought a really good sprayer that I would still be way ahead in the money department.

  16. Mallee is an Australian bush/ tree, found all over Australia I think. When cut down on farming properties, the stumps are piled in huge heaps and left to dry out. They are gnarled and knobbly, very dense wood, extremely hard to cut. One of these banked in the wood stove would slowly burn away keeping the whole house warm overnight, then in the morning, stir up the hot ashes, bake a few spuds (potatoes), then once they’re done, add a bit of kindling to get the fire going again then another mallee stump to keep it burning away all day, or several hours depending on the size of the stump. perhaps you could google images of Australian mallee and mallee stumps to get an idea of what they look like.

    river- WOW! I love that I just learned something new here! Thanks for that bit of Aussie trivia! I will indeed Google it!
    Thanks !!

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