Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Frugal Friday: The Under Siege Edition

Right, first a warning.  This post is going to be dark and depressing.  I've tried to rewrite it to avoid it being so, but it just ain't happening.  So, please, keep that in mind before reading.  If you've had a bad day, unless you are of the "misery loves company" school of life, you might want to avoid reading this until your day is better.  Hopefully once things go better than they have been for me you can read this without it dragging you down into a depressing place.

I feel beat down, devastated, defeated, anxious...I'm pretty much riding the roller coaster of ugly feelings right now.  It's been a hard week and a half.

First there were the moose that stopped me from putting in a garden this year.  Than there was the larder beetles which have had me detail cleaning the house every day and keeping me on my toes this summer to try and stop them from taking over any area they possibly can.  I lost seeds.  I lost some stuff, I had to declutter hardcore to find nesting places.  I flared up my bicep tendinitis and have suffered from a severe lack of sleep, but I was making progress and feeling like MAYBE things were starting to climb out of the nose dive they were in.

Then, last Tuesday happened.  It was the final, "What cosmic force did I seriously tick off somehow to bring this on" type of moment for me.

I went into the pantry to move what was left of my potatoes to a basket since the plastic bag they were in kept falling over.  Immediately when I opened the door the cats both ran into the pantry, which they had been doing for about a week, but since it had been cold and wet out, I just figured they were bored and wanting to check out the one area of the house that they didn't have normal access to (since the door to the pantry is normally closed).  Boy was I wrong.  So, so wrong.

I moved the potato bag and felt my heart hit my feet when I saw the distinctive black pellets sitting on the small wooden slats that the water softener attached to.  Mouse droppings.  Lots of them.  Coming from someone who is so very careful to try and keep things out of reach of any type of vermin and someone who the rest of the house might look like a tornado hit it, but the pantry is ALWAYS clean and organized (as well as I can with the amount of space I have), this was my worst nightmare.

That was a long night.  It was the last night Armina could stay up late before we had to get up early for school on Thursday, but I needed her help to gut as much as I could out of the pantry to help the cats have access to the walls and to start to figure out the extent of the damage the mice had done in the short time they had been in there.  I KNOW they couldn't have been in the pantry more than 3 weeks because I just got done reorganizing and moving things around again and we had also just added salt to the water softener not that long ago (and there had been no mouse droppings on the slats at that point), but the mice were like a destructive army to anything they could find a way to get to and boy did they do so much damage in the short period of time they had been in there.

I lost crackers, drink mix from the LDS cannery (which sucked because our local cannery is shutting down with the farm it is located on getting sold) and dried fruit as those were in the metal baskets on top of the water salt tank and were the most obvious damage I found, at first.  The best I can figure the mice climbed the cords for the water softener to get up there as the baskets were decently high up, but accessible via the cords if the buggers were determined.  There was mouse droppings around the entire edges of the room.  I found a hole behind the canning shelves where they mice must have gotten in at, I figured, as I found that everywhere else in the pantry the drywall doesn't quite reach the floor (since it's unfinished in there) and you could clearly see nice, unmarred 2x4 staring back at you.  Except for the back wall.  The 2x4 was missing there along the bottom edge.  Somehow the mice had come in from outside as they always do up here when it is cold and wet (EVERY house no matter how immaculate can end up with mice up here...if it's warm and dark they'll find a way in), gotten under the drywall along that wall and just gone to town on anything they could get their little teeth into.

I made sure that the floating wooden shelves by the door were still secure and the mice couldn't climb up onto them any way shape or form (thank GOD the pasta was on those shelves) and let the cats run around in there the last week and a half, figuring that they'd either kill the mice or the little blighters would get too scared to come out of the wall and eventually starve to death.

And so, I've spent the last week and a half just figuring out the extent of the damage the vermin wrought while cats squeezed in around me to check anything I uncovered.  Luckily, the only things I had on the floor of the pantry in the slanted area was all in metal cans or were stored in heavy plastic containers, as I tried to keep things safe from mice when I'd put stuff away, so I was hoping the crackers and the dried fruit would be the worst of it.

And then, today, I finally started pulling out all of my home canned goods to help the cats get full access to the back wall of the pantry.  And I cried buckets, and I mean buckets, of tears.

Quick PSA:  Erika listened to the "experienced canners" on various boards she followed who told her she MUST store canning jars without bands on them because the bands could trick you into not knowing a seal was broken on a jar.  This was a REALLY, REALLY STUPID thing to do as that gives mice access to the edge of the canning jar, the lid and the darned seal on the jar!  Don't be stupid.  Don't be like Erika.  Store your jars with the bands on, just loosen them if you are worried about a false seal or something.

The mice managed to find the one hole in the cardboard that spanned the gap between the canning shelves, climbed up the little metal lip of the canning shelf up and onto the cardboard and went to town on everything that I had stored on the bottom canning shelves.

So much wasted food.  So much wasted work.  So much money lost.  So much mold.  The above picture was taken in progress of going through everything once I got it out of the pantry. 

All my home canned peaches.  Gone.  Pears.  Gone.  Home made pickles.  Gone.  Relish.  Gone.

The list goes on.  Jams and jellies and applesauce survived, thank God, as those were on the top shelf where the mice couldn't climb, but about 90% of everything that was stored on the bottom of the shelves was lost.

I think I cried enough tears today to fill an ocean.  My husband came home and tried to cheer me up as he was happy to see that some canning had survived.  Until I pointed out to him that what he was looking at was 1/3 of what it should have been.  Thank God I didn't have a successful garden this year, in a way, because it I had lost the normal amount of canning I have after having a good garden year on top of what I already lost...I honestly think I'd be in the mental ward right now wearing paper shoes.

I'm overwhelmed right now and waiting for a swarm of locusts or a raining of frogs to finish everything off.

I have no idea how to replace everything that I've lost.  I have no idea how I'm going to clean and sterilize the pantry with a unfinished concrete floor, a mop that is falling apart, a space that a broom won't even fit into and everything.

I moved everything out of the pantry today after finding the jars and am just letting the cats have free rein in the now vacant room.  I have a board with some weight behind it going about a foot up the door to the pantry, so the cats can get over but a mouse is going to have a heck of a time getting out, and we'll wait for a few more days.  If nothing pops out of the gap, my husband is going to go through and spay foam the gap in the baseboard to seal it, we'll secure a 2x4 securely along the wall to hopefully button stuff up better and I'll rethink how I do everything, again, in the hopes that I can save some food for winter yet, somehow.

This has not been a good year so far.

This is going to make vacuuming to keep larder beetles at bay really really difficult.  My brain shuts down thinking about it.  I just don't want to deal with it right now, so I'm not.

I do want to throw some good things onto this post, though, just to prove some decent things happened this week, so let me list those.

1.  I got an e-mail offer from Tiny Prints for 10 free thank you cards and envelopes.  I had received this offer a while ago and got some thank you cards for me, but this time I decided I'd get some for Armina with her name on them.  The plan is to start to put together free things like the thank you cards and put together a cute little stationary kit for her for Christmas.  I think she'll enjoy it and so far I'm off to a good start with 10 free thank you cards and envelopes (photo missing because honestly I couldn't find a place to take a picture right now...I have stuff stacked everywhere).

2.  We got the free photo prints in from Snapfish.  My husband was especially thrilled as we got a picture of Alvah smiling when he was younger, which didn't happen too often in pictures.  I'm hoping to frame those and stick them on the gallery wall sometime soon.

3.  I got heavily inspired by reading Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Manual and really loved the nice, clean and organized laundry she has (of course she has a HUGE house so it's a lot easier to achieve that look in a house like that).  I decided I might not be able to achieve the beautiful and clean look she had going, but I could still organize things and make things look neat and tidy in the laundry room.  I was able to rearrange things to the point I could fit the toilet paper and paper towels I'd gotten from Amazon (as well as the laundry soap and the hand soap and such) and things sitting on the shelves above my washer and dryer looking nice and tidy.  I grabbed a little "s" hook I had around the house that we used to hang the Christmas stockings on and I hung my hand broom from the bottom of my ironing board to get it up and off the floor and where I could find it easily. 

I used a wooden caddy I had that originally housed blocks and that I have moved around from one place to another over the years and I put it to use to house some of my cleaning supplies to keep them organized (like I have sponges tucked into the caddy toward the front), but also to kind of hide them a bit so the shelf doesn't look so cluttered.  By reorganizing the shelves I even managed to fit y scrub bucket onto the shelf, which will hopefully keep it out of the way of the son and the cats and stop them from making the crack in said bucket worse.

I moved one of the black metal shelves back into the laundry room, but instead of just using it to organize cat food and cat things, I instead used it to organize my ironing things, the cat food and other various little household items. 

I managed to rearrange the wall in such a way to fit my step stool over by the washing machine and managed to fit the carpet cleaner into the corner.  I have to move the trashcan and do a bit of rearranging to get the carpet cleaner out, but it's worth it as it was sitting by the upstairs bathroom in the hallway before this, so it's nice to have it in a better location.

I rearranged the top of the freezer and got it to fit both of my pressure canners, my meat slicer, the cat carrier, a foot soaker that my husband likes to use from time to time and my Food Saver (which is hidden by the meat slicer). 

4.  I took a shower caddy that has been in the kid's bathroom since we moved here, and which the kids never used (it was up high for one, but also the shower head in the shower in the bathroom there doesn't really fit the caddy, so it was on the opposite wall from the shower head, so hard to reach when giving the son a bath and things).  I took it off the wall in the kid's shower and moved it downstairs where my husband desperately needed something exactly like that as he had shampoo, soap and such scattered around the bathtub like mad.  It works a lot better in its new location.

5.  Warning:  If you are a champagne lover you might want to skip this part because I'm about to offend you.  Seriously. 

While gutting the pantry, I stumbled across something I could use.  About ten years ago (give or take a couple of months) I decided to put together big gift baskets for all of the family members.  They were elaborate affairs and in some of them I included alcohol.  Well, I bought one too many bottles of champagne and not being one to waste anything, I kept it to save "for a special occasion" or to use as a gift or...something. 

Anyway, when we moved the bottle moved with us.  I ended up sticking it in the depths of the pantry and it got buried somehow stuffed alongside the canning shelves.  When I was moving stuff out of the way for the cats, I found it, and was actually kind of happy I did.  I've been out of cooking wine for months now and I have a few dishes that I really like to have cooking wine for.

So, I had my husband pop the cork (I'm a wimp) while I stood safely out of the way (note, once again, I'm a wimp).  The champagne is actually pretty tasty after aging all of this time and I think I offended the husband when I told him what I was going to do with it.  The only problem I'm having is that the fizz in the champagne won't quit.  Seriously.  It's been at least a week and I STILL can't put a wine stopper in it without it blowing the stopper back up again.  It's crazy.  So, I kind of have a wine stopper sitting in the bottle, unsealed, and am storing it in the fridge.  Hopefully it will go flat sometime soon so I can use it better for cooking wine.

6.  I need a break.  Since I can't take one, I've taken small amounts of time and escaped onto Pinterest making a new board for fall and looking up pretty autumn pictures and neat sounding autumn types of recipes.  It works and takes my mind off of things for a while.

7.  Alvah has been doing great in school so far this year and they are really thrilled with the progress he made over the summer with ABA therapy and things.  He even took a few bites out of an apple and a cucumber today!  Hopefully they have more luck getting him to actually keep the foods he tries, but I was thrilled to hear that news.

8.  Armina has been coping with middle school and is actually doing pretty good so far.  Her biggest problem was getting her to concentrate on her locker when she would tumble the combination as she had a tendency to overshoot the number she needed.  I checked in at the office this morning and took about ten minutes to walk her through opening her locker over and over and over again and pointed out to her the mistakes she was consistently making (the biggest one was settling on 4 instead of 3 like she should have).  I was rewarded with her coming out super quick this afternoon (where since school started she was consistently one of the last kids out it seemed) and her proudly saying she was a lot better at her locker now and she thinks she's got it down.  I was happy that a few minutes to just point out to her where she had to correct herself to make the whole experience go better, worked.

And yeah,  other than that it was the usual back to school stuff.  Medical paperwork, dropping off pamphlets explaining what cyclical vomiting syndrome was to the new nurse (who seemed very on top of it and actually seemed really nice, which was good), getting the daughter used to the new schedule and getting her stomach in line with said new schedule, getting the right type of Benadryl to the nurse for the son so he wouldn't gag on the Benadryl when they gave it to him...all of that stuff.

So, how did your week and a half go?  Please tell me better than mine.


  1. Stuff some wadded up aluminium foil into the gaps before you seal them because mice can chew through foam and wood but don't like aluminium foil.

  2. Oh Erika, I am so sorry to hear of your mouse troubles. My mom would have said, you'll get your crown in heaven, for sure! (She would have been 92 today.)
    I had to laugh about your champagne story. Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
    Your laundry room organization looks nice. I finally made a spot in a closet for my ironing board. It always feels good when you can give something a better "home."
    Hang in there. I still pray for y'all every day.

  3. Oh Erika, my heart is just sick! I'm so, so sorry that you have to deal with all of this! I can't even imagine how much work you put into all of that to have the mice take care of it in one short bit of time. Not to mention the financial hit. I wish I lived closer to lend a hand and a bit of my pantry excess.

    I'll echo Jo here - your laundry room looks lovely! I love your shelves above the washer and dryer. I really need to get on my laundry room - it's quite the mess right now. I'll gaze at your photo if I need inspiration. :)

    I am so glad your children are doing well at school and HOW EXCITING that your son tried a few bites of an apple and cucumber! That is certainly something to be happy about! I'm sure your daughter must feel pretty good about getting her locker combination figured out. Sometimes those things seem to have a mind of their own!

    Prayers for you and your family and a long distance hug or two,

  4. First of all, that really really sucks! I'm so sorry about your troubles.

    Secondly, I home can and have never stored my goods without the rings on them. You can tell if the product is "off" even when the ring is on because the seal would dome up in the centre of the lid - and the ring doesn't prevent that from happening. Also the ring holds the seal down, and secures the seal in place should the jars knock together when being moved around or stacked on top of each other.

    Lastly, I've had to deal with mice issues as well. I learned to put anything that was packaged in cardboard (think cereal, pudding mixes), plastic bags (think pasta or dried beans), or paper (think spice mixes, drink mixes, sugar) in plastic tupperware/Rubbermaid containers to keep the vermin out!! This works well for keeping bugs out too. Then, if I had a larger stockpile, for example, many bags of dried beans, or bags of flour, I would store them in plastic food-safe 5 gallon pails (I purchased them from Home Depot) and then labelled the front of each pail to identify its contents. Each pail cost me about $5. Even if the mice ran over the lid of each container, I could easily disinfect the container before opening. Although the initial outlay was somewhat painful to purchase, in the long run, it saved me from having to replace a lot of food.

    Try not to get too discouraged. The bright side is that you probably still have a goodly amount of food storage between your pantry and frozen food stores...and you've gained a lot more knowledge about different ways to store food that will serve you well in the future. Keep your eyes open on food deals as they come your way over the next few months, and hopefully you can recover a lot of what you lost. Not a great plan, but better than no plan.

    You'll be okay. It'll work out!

    Pat, Cda

  5. Hi Erika,
    I feel your pain...Failed garden, Check. Mice in basement food storage, Check. Nervous breakdown, Check. I was so grossed out by the mice (my son drove out to Lowe's and bought super-duper mousetraps) I cleaned my house like a crazy lady. My daughter and I cleaned up the attic. But if I was a drinker (allergic) and found a bottle of champagne, I may have sat on the basement step and drank the whole thing, check. You are one strong woman, cry your heart out and then it is back to the list of things to do. Barb in PA

  6. Oh Erika. :( I'm so sorry. Mice are such jerks. I lost a bit of food a few years ago when we learned we had mice in the basement (we had just moved here, and you're very correct- in our last house, we didn't have mice, but *everyone* has them here, it's just a fact. Something about the climate and the area, I guess). It wasn't a dire situation, but it was still yucky, and I am still giving my cats dirty looks for not being better mousers (one has killed a single mouse- and then hid it, GROSSGROSSGROSS, and she's also brought me three live ones THANKYOUSOMUCHYOUTHATSNOTAGIFT, and the other just sniffs at mice). Keep your eyes peeled at the used stores for storage containers and stock up as money permits, and put the word out that you're looking for those things, as maybe people will unload things they no longer need on you. I'm so sorry it's been such a stressful week for you. :(

    Your laundry room looks great- at first, I thought it was a picture from the Martha Stewart book! My laundry room is painted this awful shade of light green, like the kind you find in grade school bathrooms. It's pretty ugly, but the room is clean and organized, so it makes me happy. :)

    Alvah eating cucumber and apple is a HUGE deal!!! Congrats to him on that, and I hope his successes continue. Good for Armina for adjusting well to middle school; it's a big transition and one my son didn't do gracefully, so it's nice to hear that your daughter is enjoying it.

    Take those Pinterest breaks. Take a library book break, a Youtube break, a swig-of-that-champagne break. You've MORE than earned it, and I wish I lived near you or you lived near me so I could help. What a week! I sincerely hope that this next week is better for you.

  7. Tough times! We once had to pull our kitchen to pieces on Christmas Day because a mouse had been in there. Have you considered diatomaceous earth for the larder beetles? We once had bed bugs (and a crawling baby) and I would sprinkle it under the furniture before bed, then vacuum it up in the morning. We also sprayed isopropyl alcohol in the cracks of the sofa and on the underneath. It helped to get rid of them.

    I think the issue with your daughter's locker would come under the category "don't be lazy, think lazy". You took the trouble to help her learn so now everyone is less frustrated and not wasting time at the end of the day.

    Finally, although your house isn't treating you kindly right now, it does seem that every week you have something positive to say about how your son is progressing.

    Good luck getting rid of those unwanted house guests.


  8. Uggg. Mice are the worst. We do battle with them two or three times a year. A couple of years ago I had them get into my clothes drawers and chew a big hole in my favorite (and only) cashmere sweater. Grrr. The only advice I can offer is lots of traps and to keep anything not packaged in glass or metal in a plastic tote. You certainly have my permission to self-medicate with the champagne you found. Good luck!

  9. Try throwing a ton of mothballs under your house, and put them around the walls in your cupboards. Glue traps work well, but you need the heavy duty ones, not the cheap ones. You can keep the pantry doors open and allow the cats access all the time, or simply open the doors at night as they roam. I'm having a fun time dealing with the little nasties here in Texas too. Country living is great, but field mice are a pain. The irony is that I have SIX cats, two of which come in and out of the house as they choose, and I STILL have a mouse problem! You will get through this, hang on.

  10. Oh no!! We have had the mouse in the pantry I don't know how many times and it's never fun. I'm so sorry about all of the food that you lost I know that that is heartbreaking. On the bright side you did get some good stuff done and I also thought that your laundry room was a Martha Stewart picture! I hope your weekend goes better for you

  11. This is god's way of saying you have too much food stored. You are not disorganized but you do have way too much stuff. Really will you eat all that food? Be hard on yourself in a different way and get rid of what you can. I promise you won't starve.

    1. I hope you are kidding! If I lived in Alaska, with Children who had serious special needs, I would have a stockpile like Erika's. And calling it God's Way is just ridiculous.

    2. This negative finger pointing comment is unnecessary and unkind. Your way is not everyone's way.

    3. Actually for home canning, she has far less canning than many do. If you're canning things with the idea of eating all year from it, it takes a lot of canning! For example, if you want peaches every week all year long, you need at least 52 jars of peaches, one for each week, or 104 jars if you want two jars per week. Something like jam could be as little as 12 jars (one per month) or as many as 104, depending on how much jam you have. Since Erika lives in Alaska, I'm assuming she's stocking up once per year for the rest of the year.

      We have a family of four also and easily could eat all of that in less than a year. It depends on a lot of factors how much to have on hand!


    4. What a ridiculous comment. I have a family similar in size to Erika's and we can't always get to the store/ the stuff we're able to can is so much better for us. If we want to have enough to get us through the year until the produce is fresh again, we need to have a lot of jars stocked up. If you can't say anything helpful, you might want to consider not saying anything at all.

    5. Can you just remove the inconsiderate commenter? You are not walking in Erika's shoes. Please leave this blog. It obviously does not meet your needs.
      I grew up in the country and still have a sizable pantry. What a tragic loss of your hard work. We always take the rings off too.
      UP of Michigan

    6. That was a very rude comment. I use to read your blog but no more after this. I lived in a very cold, snowy area. We often cant get out to shop so a stocked pantry is needed. God does not say dont stock your pantry. Read about the Proverb 31 woman

    7. Stopping reading the blog will hurt Erica, not the rude commentator. The comment was not Erica's fault. Please reconsider. Erica needs supportm

    8. IO was not talking about Erica's blog but the person that wrote the nasty comments blog. sorry for the confusion.

    9. I have read OutMyWindow's blog also and thought she was big on stockpiling. Living in Alaska I would think always having extra food was a given.

    10. It,is important to have food storage. A blizzard, a job loss, severe illness...any of those things and one would be thankful to have food and not worry where it would come from. What a shocking comment.

    11. Erika, I live in Fairbanks. Good on you for having tons of food stored--the person who said you had too much has obviously not lived up here. Sorry you lost so much of it.

  12. Oh my, I am soooooo very sorry for all the work and loss. That is horrible.
    Knock wood, I have never had that problem.
    I fill holes in the greenhouse with steel wool to keep the varmints out - it seems to work.

    God bless you and remember this year is on the short side. Next year will be better.

  13. I am so sorry for the awful week you have had - you must be totally exhausted. As one reader said - if I'd found that bottle of champagne I'd have been tempted to drink the lot!
    I've had a bit of a mouse problem myself - even though I live in a big city I am right next to a river and conservation area within the city so they tend to come inside especially as it gets colder. I had the exterminator in and he's left the traps where they eat something but then go away to die so at least I don't have to empty them. I did a big clean last week and moved a lot of furniture and was dreading what I might find but it turned out to not be too bad. I did find a very few pellets in one spot only but I think that was from before the exterminator. I am super careful about how I store things - glass, tins, ziplock bags placed inside hard plastic bins - I give them no excuse to visit!
    I am so sorry that you lost so much food - as you say, it's not just the cost but all the hard work that went into the prep.
    Your laundry room looks wonderful - you did an amazing job so I hope that gives you a small amount of comfort. Wish that I could send you a whole lot of good luck for the future. But remember, if you need to rant - we are here to listen. Take care.

  14. I am so sorry for what is going on right now with you. I started crying when I saw the picture of all your jars of food on the floor - this is the last thing you need. We had field mice before in our house - I am so afraid of them that I had nightmares. Our basement is now literally lined with mouse traps that my husband checks daily - we got the mice after there was some flooding in our area. They got upstairs into our living area and I discovered so many mouse droppings behind the couch I practically lost my mind. We ended up having to get a new couch because ours sat so low to the floor - the mice were using the fabric underneath - I almost passed out at the thought of sitting on that couch again. We have the mouse poison set under our sink too and that is a locked cabinet. We have not had mice in our house in about three or four years now. Everytime there is a heavy rain I am afraid to look in the basement. I am just really afraid of them even though they are so small. I do know that the mice dont like to chew thru like SOS pads - the steel wool. My thoughts are with you -- I hope things get better very soon.

  15. Erica, I am so sorry your going thru all this. I understand all the work and struggle to grow food,only to have moose ransack your garden. Then you salvage what you can. You put the effort into canning your produce only to have it eaten
    Mice hooligans. Leave that pantry door open so kitties can do their cat thing. Any of us would be happy to buy you a new broom honey, just let us know where to send it. Many people care about you,remember that my dear.

  16. Can you send an address or create a button so that people can donate to help you restock. I can't send a large amount but I would like to help.

  17. Erika, I'm so sorry to hear about this! I've been reading for a long time but have never commented. I'd be totally heartbroken if this happened to me. How can we help?

  18. I would like to donate too. Paypal? Give you amazon gift cards? Please let us help.

  19. Yes, I would like to help. Just let us know how.
    Sending hugs and prayers.

  20. I’m sorry you had to deal with mice. Here’s a little funny (now) that happened to us many years ago. We lived next to a field and a mouse got in the house. Husband and son were trying to catch it and it ran under the frig. They got the bright idea to use the B.B. gun to shoot it under there. Didn’t get the mouse but did manage to shoot the water line to the ice maker, way to go guys.

  21. The comment I left the other day did not post. If it ever shows up, I apologize:)

    I wanted to say how sorry I am that all that food was lost by mice. I have had a problem with mice before, but never, ever have they ever broken seals on my jars. I've had little presents left on top of the lids, and had to clean very well before opening, but never had to throw any away. That's just heartbreaking. Canning is a lot of work.

    Every year, I can many hundreds of jars of various foods that I grow, or get for free. Once in a while, I buy a box of a fruit that I cannot grow or source for free. I also buy any meat or fish that I can, since we cannot grow our own here in town. That is a new thing for me, and I did canned chicken for the first time recently.

    I use the same system as Lea (comment above) does. I figure out how many jars I need from harvest to harvest of that particular item, and can that many. I keep detailed records of how many jars we used vs. how many old ones are left over and how many new ones I can each year. That information is very helpful to me, especially as my family changes size. When I had many children at home, it was not unusual for us to use 100 quarts of peaches in a year. That's approximately 2 per week. One year, I canned 150 quarts of green beans. That was about 3 per week, but there were times we opened 2 at a time. Thankfully, I only had to do that a couple of years, but was always over 100 on beans until recent years.

    So, I am horrified to think that you lost a lot of your canning, Erika, especially since you could not do more this year.

    I am so glad you could find some joy in your children, though. Children are such a gift.

    You are also getting that house super clean! You go, girl!! I hope you can sit down and get a little rest soon, but I absolutely understand that it is not restful to relax when you think there may be mice droppings on things....Hang in there!

  22. What a terrible week for you all. I wish there was was way I could help you. As for the mice, they will eat through the spray on foam. The best thing to use is steel those steel wool soap filled things for dishes, except you can get larger boxes with out the soap from a hardware store. Mice won’t eat through it and if you want to cover it up after placing it the spray foam. Been there, done that too many times to count. Will pray for your family. If you cannot get the steel wool up there, let me know and I will send some up.
    Jean from Canada

  23. Yes, I would like to help. Just let us know how.
    Sending hugs and prayers.

  24. Oh I despise mice! I will stand up to my 6’4, 280 pound ex husband and not flinch, but a little 2 inch mouse and I’m screaming like a little girl! I can’t even deal with the dead ones in the traps—either my teen son does it or I call someone to come do it!

  25. Erika, I'm so sorry to hear about the mouse damage! You've shown us once again, though, that you are a hard-working and resilient woman. I hope things settle down for you soon so you get a chance to catch your breath. What great news about your son's progress, and that your daughter is settling in so well in her new scbool! Continuing to keep you and your family in my prayers. Hang in there!

  26. Heartbreaking to read this. I echo the comments about how hardworking and resilient you are. You are a fighter and a fierce protector of your family. Sending you cyber hugs.

  27. I called my son and read this to him. We thought we were the only ones going through things like this. We wondered if we were alone fighting the whole world. I am sorry, and really understand what you feel. The silver-lining - Alvah bit an apple and a cucumber!!!! Wow!


  28. Im late to this post so you've probably already fixed the pantry but i was going to mention that you should put a type of metal mesh in the gaps before you seal them because mice can chew through the foam. You can find the metal mesh anywhere im sure, where ive found it the cheapest is the dollar store as metal scrubby sponges.

    1. Hi, Erika
      "Out my Window" probably just lost a lot of readers. Just remember, Anybody who says they know what God is thinking is probably delusional. Her comment was certainly not well intentioned.


  29. Hope your doing better Erika. Just saw parts of Alaska is getting snow already. It is 83 degrees here in Western PA with hot humid weather this coming week.

  30. Been there and done that... I now keep rings on, use rubbermaids and food grade buckets. Field mice ALWAYS come in when they take the crops off around so bad at our old place I actually paid for the whole house inside and out to get sprayed