Once upon a time, a farmer and his wife were sitting by a fire on a cold autumn night in Galicia, Spain. Silvery frost had begun gathering on the grass in the mornings, and the people in the farms and villages all around were happy to have their harvests put to bed.
The evening before, the farmer’s wife had taken pity on the neighbor’s cat and let him in the house to snuggle on her lap in front of the fire as she read a very good book (Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr), while enjoying a glass of a very good vino tinto produced from grapes grown on the hillside perched above a big river nearby. A gift from a friend. The farmer’s wife let out a sigh of contentment, while the farmer shook his head and pretended to disapprove. But his wife knew he was just posturing because he had been very vocally debating bringing the cat inside on cold nights for the past few weeks whenever they heard his cry outside their door. The farmer was a soft touch.
But on this night, the cat was no where to be found. When suddenly the farmer’s wife saw movement out of the corner of her eye. A little black flash streaked across her patent boxes nestled under the library table by the door. She stood up, allowing her favorite throw, perfect for cold autumn nights, and her very good book to fall to the floor.
‘I think I saw a mouse!’ She cried.
But the farmer disputed this as a possibility. ‘This house is built like a fortress. It’s not made of wood. There is no way a mouse could get in here, unless he could bore through stone. Except through the front door under our feet. We would have seen it.’
But the farmer’s wife knew what she had seen and she went over to investigate, as her husband watched. She moved a wooden patent box and the black furry creature ran out.
‘Oh my god!’ Shouted the farmer, jumping to his feet. ‘There’s a mouse in the house!’
His wife rolled her eyes as the farmer grabbed a broom. But twenty minutes later, after the farmer and his wife had torn their house apart, they could not locate the mouse.
‘I have been researching mousetraps on YouTube.’ Said the farmer. ‘I have all the stuff to build one and I’m going out to the barn. I’ll be right back.’
During his absence, the farmer’s wife called for the neighbors cat from the front porch, but only the sound of the frozen autumn wind answered her call.
Two hours later, around 11:30 pm, the farmer returned to the house with his contraption, noting his wife was hold up on a high surface looking much like a rabid badger due to his ‘be right back’ promise, and his two hour stay in the barn.
‘We need to plug the holes I found.’ She told her husband. ‘There is one under the kitchen baseboards. And one you can barely see as the wall and the foundation meet. You’ll see a weird gap after it’s settled. Some expanding foam should do it.’
But the farmer told her this was ridiculous, while offering exactly zero theories of his own as to how the mouse entered their newly painted, quite lovely (if I do say so myself) dwelling. He was focused solely on his new mouse-catching contraption. And in firing up a YouTube video to demonstrate it’s simple, yet powerful capabilities.
‘We will put peanut butter here.’ Pointing to the tipping point. ‘Then the mouse will be attracted to it. It will run up this ramp towards the peanut butter and tip into the bucket, trapped.’
The farmer’s wife had to admire his ingenuity, if protracted crafting of his mouse trap solution at nearly midnight on a cold November night. But she thought they should keep other mice out first, then focus on catching the one still in the house.
The farmer set his trap in the kitchen, filled it with peanut butter, and himself with over confidence. ‘We will have caught our mouse by morning.’ He assured his frowning wife. ‘Guaranteed.’
‘I will bet you $500 that there is no mouse in that thing in the morning.’ She said. ‘We need to plug the holes first.’
The farmer took the bet, but went to bed confidently, knowing his contraption would win the day. Upon waking in the morning, the gloating farmer rolled over and reminded his wife of their bet. ‘$500. Remember?.’ Then he got up to check his trap in the kitchen.
One hour later, the farmer returned to the warm bedroom, where the farmer’s wife was snuggled reading the end of her very good book. He had a warm coffee he had made her and a smile. Not mentioning the trap or the mouse.
‘How was the trap.’ His wife enquired, laying her book aside and accepting his peace offering.
‘No mouse.’ He said sheepishly. ‘I don’t think he’s in here anymore. I have some stuff in the barn to plug the holes.’ And he turned to head out.
‘I take cash only.’ Said the farmers wife to her conveniently confused husband.
‘What?’ He asked.
‘Our bet. $500. Remember?’
So while the farmer’s wife is counting her money, the farmer has let the neighbor’s cat in the house for breakfast, on his way out to the barn to find a way to patch the holes they might have patched the night before. And the moral of the story, boys and girls? The farmer’s wife is always right. Ok, usually right. Maybe, very often right. But still, it was a pretty cool mouse trap.