Pantry Problems

Sometimes I’m oblivious to the world. Last week, I notice candy wrappers on the floor in the pantry.

Sweet Miss and her beau had made cupcakes decorated with black and white candies over Christmas break. The leftovers along with the candy from our stockings were haphazardly thrown on a shelf in the pantry.

I figured the dogs must have gotten into them. I must not have really thought it through, because that makes no sense at all. The bags were on a shelf five feet in the air, the dogs aren’t that big, they’re not very sly–Cocoa especially would have run all over the house with her treasure. They’ve been going into the pantry with me when I grab a couple chew sticks for them, but they’re focused on me and their toy–not candy. It was just one of those strange things. I threw away the wrappers and forgot about it until Thursday afternoon.

Along with more trash, I noticed a half-eaten potato in the pantry.  Uh oh, dogs don’t do that, and then I found other signs. Mice were eating our Christmas candy. This was trouble with a capital T.

Two hours later, I’d wiped down all the food shelves, put the candy in a plastic container, and put a whole of lot of things in the dishwasher.

Sealed In Plastic

Then I decided to get everything off the floor. If I have mice running around, I don’t want to give them something to hide behind. We have a lot of room in our pantry–storage is a major bonus of this house–so I haven’t been diligent about maximizing space.

Clearing the Floors

Mice have been and issue off and on since we moved in. They’ve chased me out of the bathroom, and interrupted my morning devotions by running out from under the couch. My niece and nephew had me out in the sewing room looking all over trying to find “a cute little field mouse with big brown eyes.” And the MR and I have missed out on a few hours of sleep when the foolish creatures find their way into the walls of our closet. But this is only the second time we’ve had them in the kitchen.

The first time we had troubles, I got a call when we were headed to a volleyball tournament in Eastern Washington. We were driving over the pass, when Sweet Miss called to say that she and her buddies had found a mouse in the kitchen. They had it in a cup and wanted to know what to do. Well, goodness baby, put it outside. She called back later to say it ran off the deck and committed suicide. As long as it’s not in my house, that’s fine with me.

After Sweet Miss’ adventure, I made sure all of our grains like popcorn, lentils, split peas, and barley are in jars rather than the bags they come in. I also like to put snacks and cereals in the jars. It makes it really easy to tell how much we have, and I can pour out a serving of goldfish for Baby Girl’s lunch lickety-split.

All Jarred Up

Proper labeling is important. I almost made lentil soup with sunflower seeds–that would have been an interesting meal. I was thankful that I had split peas to fill in, in a pinch.

My flour and sugars are also in plastic bins for protection.

Flour & Sugar

I took the picture and realized I have a few more that need to be jarred and labeled.

After that, the MR bought a noisemaker that was supposed to keep mice away. It sounded a lot like clarinets trying to match pitch and reaching total dissonance. It gave me a headache, and after the mouse chased me out of the bathroom, we decided it didn’t work.

Anyways, I’ve done some research about deterring mice. Somewhere I read that mice dislike the scent of peppermint. I didn’t have any peppermint essential oil, but I did have mint extract. I thought maybe that would do the trick. I doused a few cotton balls in the extract and set them out around the pantry. The pantry smelled fresh and minty for a few days, and I didn’t see any signs of mice over the weekend. Maybe this would work.

With our candy sealed up, everything off the floor, and the minty cotton balls in place, I was feeling pretty confident, but me and Baby Girl went to the hardware store on the way to her team dinner to pick up some traps just to be safe. She’s an expert at setting them, since she used one in her Rube Goldberg device. So we put one next to my recipe box baited with peanut butter and hoped they’d just moved on. Sunday, I checked and was happy to find nothing. Today, I wasn’t so lucky–or maybe I was if it helps get rid of the problem.

It’s one of those challenges I haven’t gotten used to. We live on acreage out in the country, and so there are issues we didn’t have to deal with in town. Thinking back, that’s not totally true. The MR had a mouse run up his arm when he went to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer at our first home. And mice built a nest on the engine of my old Escort station wagon and dragged dried corn up there at our second house. But those incidents were few and far between. 

At the big white house, we’ve had the joy of eagles circling the pine trees, and deer wandering the meadow. This view does come at a price.


After two weeks in Europe on business, the MR is coming home today, and we are doing the happy dance around here. I have some tidying to do. We want to welcome him home with as much serenity as possible. I’ll tell him about the mice, the door that doesn’t close, the leaking faucet in the laundry room, the potholes in the driveway, and all the other little things that fell apart while he was gone after he’s caught up on some sleep.

Tell me your favorite mouse story. Any tried and true ways to get rid of them?


3 thoughts on “Pantry Problems

  1. Haven’t had much experience with your topics lately, but on this one, I do!! The first winter we livied in our house, in less then a week’s time, we caught 22 mice!! Gives me the hebejebe’s just thinking about it. That is not a typo – not 2, but 22. Thankfully, we finally found where they were getting in. There was a hole where the brick from the fireplace met the sheet rock. We quickly plugged it with steel wool and had not had any problems since. Until this winter – when we found one scurry into the kitchen again. We discovered the hole open again, so re-plugged it and we were good to go. As a precausion, DH also bought some sort of white powder at Lowe’s. You put it where the mice will find it, they eat it, and it makes them shrivel up and die.

    When I was in high school, we lived on acreage in the country. I was in the kitchen making a snack, and our dog was in the laundry room just off the kitchen. He was having a fit, barking and barking. I went to check it out, and he was barking at behind the washer and dryer. I pushed myself up with my arms, to raise myself enough to see behind the appliances with a flash light. AND FOUR BEADY EYES were looking up at me. Not small eyes either. I screamed, ran into the kitchen, and jumped on the counter. Thankfully my dad was home, and not on the road. He came in laughing and checked it out for himself. They were two big RATS! He went and got a gun and killed them. Talk about discusting!!!!! They had came in through the vent. I don’t know if my dad did anything, but we never had any problems again.

  2. Pingback: February in Review | bigwhitehouseonthehill

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