Mina and the Mouse, courtesy David Hammond

Last week I reported on the problem we were having with mice.

I’m glad to say that this problem has been solved, in part, by Mina, our aged cat, who last week snared the mouse (or, more likely, one of the mice). This was a very good thing for our old cat, who has been feeling rather tired lately; the thrill of the hunt and kill had a salubrious effect upon her spirit. In the accompanying picture, you can see how she hid her bounty under a pile of New Yorkers before we relieved her of her grotesque and treasured toy. [Note: this is the first time I’ve ever posted a cat picture on the Internet. Honest. And likely the last.]

It’s very satisfying to have nature handle things. It’s somehow much cleaner to have a natural predator take care of a problem that would otherwise have been solved with poison we bought at the store.

It addition to inventory shrinkage due to vermin, we’re seeing a fair amount of apples lost to spoilage, perhaps upwards of 10%. I go through the apple cage a few times every week, weeding out the bad ones, and there usually are bad ones. Because some of the apples are getting soft (due perhaps to the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been having), we’ve been cooking them and juicing them, which is a good way to use otherwise less than desirable produce.

I’m glad we decided to periodically replenish the root cellar with local produce from Caputo’s and other places, where it’s been stored by professionals who know what they’re doing and do what it takes to extend the survival rate of fruits and vegetables.

And it’s reassuring that nature is providing controls on further mice incursions into our basement.

So, as of the beginning of the new year, we’re staying one step ahead of root cellar disasters.

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David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...