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Wee mouse takes Rab on an early morning walk through the snow

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I have done something unusual. No, madam, I have not cooked a proper meal nor yet washed my beard nor carried out a DIY task successfully. I have been for a walk as soon as I got up.

I should stress that it wasn’t that early: about 8.45am. And I wasn’t doing it for health reasons. I was doing it to let go another humanely caught mouse. Usually, I take them away in the car, followed by a short walk, to a place far from human habitation.

But, on this recent occasion, snow lay thick on the ground, and the roads were chancy. So, I put the little beastie (still in the plastic tunnel-trap) in a small back-pack and hied myself forth. It was a beautiful, sunny day and, as I walked down the middle of the brae road, enjoying the clean air and mountain views, I fell flat on my back.

Gosh, what a stinker! Luckily, the wee moose was still all right, and so was I. Could have broken a wrist or a tail or something. On we blundered and I wondered how the timid beastie must feel, trapped in the darkness and listening to my welly boots trudge-trudge-trudging through the snow.

Robert McNeil.

Perhaps it sensed hope on the horizon. Better than being stuck in a trap all night. That must be stressful for them. I’ve had one die in there. Another died from a heart attack when I had trouble freeing it from another trap with a tricky snap-mechanism.

I’m beginning to wonder if these “humane” traps are more trouble than they’re worth. Apart from anything else, despite blocking up all possible entries with gauze, steel wool and wood, the little tykes keep getting in.

I’ve no idea how they get into the medicines drawer, which they seem to particularly like. Perhaps they have indigestion or toothache. And at least their prostates will now be sorted. No more getting up in the middle of the day to use the lavatory.

Luckily, when out on this morning mission, I never encountered one soul, apart from a dog walker who, from a distance of 15 yards, never returned my greeting. What is wrong with such people? There should be a law against them. Nobody else about, a beautiful day of unusual weather, and still they don’t have a companionable word.

Not a squeak from the back-pack either, thankfully. That would have discombobulated anybody I’d stopped to chat with! At last, we got to the ruined, abandoned barn, and I let the wee fella go, wishing him the best of luck. He skedaddled along the bottom of the wall and disappeared round a corner. Not much to eat round here, I thought, but there’s only so much you can do.

I enjoyed the walk back. How I love the snow. It brings silence. When I left with the house in the morning, I saw deer tracks in the garden. I’ve seen the same three does a few times recently. Lord knows, they’re lovely, but I need to tighten up my fencing to keep them out as they eat plants and bring ticks.

I don’t fancy having to catch one in a humane trap, before carrying it in a satchel on my back to some safe place far from human habitation.

More in this series:

Doing nothing is the answer to Rab’s ‘what to do?’ quandary

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