An Army of One

by Terri Coop

I live in a small town and I love it.  Big trees, big yards, quaint architecture, you name it, my town has it.  You have to love a place where your husband can string up a dead deer in the backyard and the only comment will be a neighbor dropping by to congratulate you.  The lack of pretense and lack of traffic is an irresistible combination.

However, a little house in a little town on the prairie also means living close to nature.  Pretty much, if it flies, runs, crawls, creeps, or slithers, I’ve encountered it in the back yard.  Normally, I don’t mind . . . however . . .

That morning started like every other, with me hustling the dogs outside to answer the call of nature.  They were skittish and nosing around the door to the mud room. 

The what?

As I learned when I moved to the Midwest, your front door rarely opens into the living spaces of your house.  There is almost always a small enclosed area that acts as a buffer to keep the blistering wind (hot or cold) outside where it belongs.  If you’re fancy folk, you call it the vestibule or entryway.  If you’re not, it’s the porch or the mud room.  I’m not.  My mud room is about seven feet square with a door on either end.  It’s a nice place to hang coats, stamp snow off your boots, and keep the trash cans away from the outdoor critters.

Well, this fine morning, I scooped up the youngest dog (he’s not bright enough to make it across the yard without running off) and opened the inner door into a scene from . . . um . . . imagine William Shatner starring in a Jerry Bruckheimer made-for-TV SyFy channel disaster movie.


The tacky tile floor, the from-the-70s paneled walls, the new front door, and the oh-so-cleverly placed trash cans were black with a writhing mass of insectivism.  This was not a scouting party.  This was a full-scale invasion on the magnitude of D-Day.   To add insult to the injury, a dozen or so garden spiders were dropping down from the ceiling to enjoy some easy hunting.  All in my mud room.  All before my first cup of coffee.

Okay.  I’ve got three dogs with urgent business, a job to get to, and a freaking natural disaster on my hands.  No problem.  I’m a modern woman!  I’m a prairie pioneer!  I’m a lawyer!  Hear me roar! 

Whatever.  I dealt with it by standing and staring goggle-eyed.  Frozen in place, until a doggie whine reminded me that, unless I acted, I’d have another mess to clean up.

I scooped up the threesome (thank goodness for Chihuahuas), ducked my head, uttered a string of obscenities that did my lumberjack father proud, and ran outside.  After I brushed off the dogs and danced around the backyard to dislodge the hitchhiking ants, I got mad.  A plan formulated in my head and I decided to get even.  This was personal.

Grabbing the garden hose, I ran the gauntlet back into the house.  Nozzle in hand, facing down the invading horde, I knew what had to be done.

This was madness.

This was blasphemy.


    If you’ve never turned on a garden hose in your living room and washed about a million ants out the front door in a high pressure flood of water, you’ve missed quite an experience.  “Cathartic” is too mild a word.  So is “messy.”

I was late for work that day.  Luckily, I’m self-employed and my boss is pretty cool.

I unceremoniously kicked and dragged the offending trash cans outside.  We have a tenant who swaps yard and outdoor work for rent.  Later, I’d have to explain to him why the cans and trash bags were full of water.  The ragged survivors crawled away from the devastation, only to be washed into the storm drain by my hose of vengeance.  My broom valiantly sacrificed itself to remove the swirling puddles of six-legged goo.  A bucket of hot water and bleach scoured the battleground clean.

Exhausted, I sat down with some iced tea to survey the scene and revel in my triumph.  Until a flash of gray streaked across the baseboard into the kitchen.
A mouse.

The Battle for Bucolia was not over, it had just begun.  I knew what I had to do.  I faced a new adversary.  This one was cunning and strong.


To be continued . . .


  1. Seriously? The mouse, too, all in one day?? I'm impressed by your quick thinking and willingness to unleash a flood indoors! I can just picture the tide of ants riding a wave out the door. Great post!

  2. When we redid the house, I insisted on hard vinyl floors. I am obviously a precog! It was something else. The trash cans now live permanently outside!


  3. An EPIC battle to be sure!! I'm so glad, the Spartans prevailed!! I look forward to the Mouse sequel!!!

  4. Suzanne Hackett-MorganAugust 27, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    This is why you are my hero! I've fought ant battles before but your's takes the cake...however, here in the desert we sometimes get cockroach swarms outside, of course scorpions and snakes...and there's always artist vs. the vermin-infested Red Barn. Good job, girlfriend!

  5. I, too, once encountered a mouse that was "cunning and strong" - in my sleeping bag! Waking up with one sharing my space was a Top 10 Not Fun experience. My excited shouting awakened an entire campground. My brave mother, who hates mice with a purple passion, stomped on it as it ran by and sent it to the Big Cheese Case in the Sky.

    Welcome to the Ermas!

  6. This is a fine example of the never ending battle between the forces of good and evil. Your intrepid response will and should be recorded in whatever annals that are maintained in these matters. What great fun reading of your battle. It was entertaining, very funny, and certainly gave me a battle plan if I ever face an Ant invasion. Their behavior was unacceptable, and your actions were completly in line with the threat. The fact that the old lady next door completly disapproved of what she thought were your house cleaning procedures, is meaningless.

  7. Having lived in the midwest for many years, your story brought back ant memories. I regret that I never thought of the novel idea of using the hose on the little creatures. I'm sure your extinction of the mouse will be just as clever. Beware. There is a sayng that for every mouse you see there are fifty unseen. I hope it isn't true. Great story. Good job. ☺

  8. Hilarious, and chock full of ingenuity. As a Texan who lives in what was once a small town (12 yrs. ago), you have given me some new strategies concerning insectivasions. ;D (The critters have not yet read the news that we are the fastest-growing town in the USA, no longer qualifying us for country-living status.) I look forward to your story about the mouse conquest (and snake, scorpion, coyote, et al).

  9. Any post that involves a Kirk/Khan shoutout gets an automatic thumbs up from me! Very funny!


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