Our home has comfortably set in the Maine woods for the last 15 years. I had grown up in the city and had always pined for country living, while my wife had grown up in the country and had always wanted to live in town.

A deer mouse nest in the engine of a car, like the one that made the engine of Charles Thompson’s van stick at high RPMs. Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

When we were looking for a house to buy, she refused to consider country living. I, on the other hand, vehemently said no to the city. We shopped for months yet couldn’t agree on anything. It almost felt like we were heading for separate residences! But then miraculously we found a piece of land that sits in the woods that feels like the country, yet we are two minutes to the middle of downtown. Problem solved, or so I thought!

We built our home and I have loved living here with the exception of occasional problematic wildlife neighbors. One year I mistakenly caught a skunk in my Havahart trap. Another year a very old mangy raccoon crawled up into my unfinished studio, made a lot of frightening noise and then froze. One summer a fisher cat woke us up nightly for several weeks wailing like an injured child.

Five years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of having back surgery. After eight weeks of recovery I was able to drive again. The first thing that I did was to fire up my van and drive to the end of our road. My entire life I associated driving with freedom. I drove up the street and by the time I returned my accelerator was stuck as the engine revved up to high RPMs.

I called my friend Larry, a mechanic, and shared my problem with him. He instructed me to take my air filter off and look inside. I removed my filter and there was a mouse nest inside. I took the filter out and shook it onto the ground and out stepped several mice that scrambled off into the woods.  Again, problem solved, or so I thought. I hopped back into my van, started it and the engine revved back up. I called Larry again and shared my frustration. He assured me everything would be fine and he would come over to our house one evening and solve my problem.

The next week Larry showed up at our door about 8 p.m. and said he had solved my problem. He had quietly showed up, worked on my van and announced that he was done. He then told me the mice had created a nest in my air breather, worked their way down into the carburetor and got stuck – effectively sticking the throttle flap open making the engine stuck at high RPMs. Yikes! He opened the carburetor. Removed the dead mouse and solved my problem.

The next day I went online and found an electronic mouse blocker, ordered it and in two days the device was at my door. I got out my tools and installed the device and to this day I hope the mice think twice about taking up residence in my beloved van, though they do seem to like my studio.

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