fauna homestead technology

Silent Night

We’ve had no internet for about a week now. The Bell technician who came out today traced the problem to its source – a mouse nest in the cable box. This is not the first time a mouse has made its house somewhere unfortunate. Last year our mechanic made a similar discovery under the hood of our car. Shelter is shelter.

As a little girl, one of my favourite Christmas stories was about a wee churchmouse, retconned into the story of Silent Night. The tale imagined that Silent Night was composed by Franz Gruber on guitar because the organ was broken – its leathers chewed by the hungry mouse.

Mouse nests are part of the texture of our world now, living nestled in the woods. It’s a fluffy ephemeral texture. The nests we find are lightweight and constructed from all sorts of different materials, yet somehow always distinctly mouse-house-ish.

Stacks of firewood make particularly good places to build mouse houses. My winter fuel is your habitat. I can see it. Neatly stacked wood is not so different from my log cabin. I imagine a jumble of telephone wires looks similarly suitable. It’s usually halfway there after all. Even before it’s been rearranged to suit a rodent, we humans call a tangle of wires a “nest”. Its mousey potential is that evident.

It’s inevitable that mice will get into the nooks and crannies of the human-constructed world. Mice are small and they are multiple. But I wouldn’t want to be in a universe without them. They may nibble cables and carry Lyme disease, but mice are also good food for fox. We’ve yet to have a fox try to get into our hen house, but there is lots of evidence that they regularly help themselves to the abundant local mouse population. The mice are welcome here too in their own role as predator, a natural check on LDD (“gypsy”) moth populations — mice enjoy feasting on LDD pupae.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

~John Muir

Living as we do, thick in the 21st century, most of our work is done online. And despite our extensive and ever-growing book-based library, many of our references are online as well. So having no internet is pretty inconvenient. But in our case it is not life threatening, and even pleasant from time to time. I am no different from the rest of my species: it’s too easy for me to spend too much time scurrying around the web. I can fall down an internet or social media rabbithole with the best of them, and it doesn’t always bring out the best in me. A pause is welcome. I may or may not spend the time composing songs on guitar, but I am happy to have a few silent nights.