New Mexico National Bird

rainy New Mexico horizon

Looking west from Taos Valley Overlook today, after the slaughter (see below!)

The first thing was, to kill them all: big black flies! You know, the kind that get inside the house and buzz around at night, thonking into your lampshade, the ones you can’t ignore. But this was something out of a nightmare: each of the three small windows in the bathroom was covered with at least a dozen, crawling back and forth across the glass. Naturally, I wondered where they’d come from, and the answer muttered darkly in my brain.

Maybe I was wrong, I thought, but only for an instant. Grabbing a nearby swatter, I immediately attacked, wap-wap-wap, until all movement ceased. There were dead flies on the floor, dead flies in the bathtub, dead flies in the sink. Dead flies where I’d never find them, either. These didn’t seem to move so quickly. Of course not. Damn. Not wrong at all. Anyway, there was no way they could have gotten into the house all at once like that. Besides, it was a cold, blustery day, not fit for invading moscas. No, these guys were native. These guys hatched.

After an early warm spell in March, we had an aggressive infestation of mice. They hung out in the bathroom and the kitchen, the added-on rooms that aren’t adobe, where loose boards and hollow walls afford all kinds of hiding places. The cat did her bit and ate the stupid ones, but the others roamed at will and left mouse shit in all kinds of places one would rather not imagine. The worst place was the bathroom “cabinet.”

I don’t know what to call it, really. When the bathroom was added on to the original old adobe house—that should give you pause right there—the plumbing behind the bathtub was sort of walled in with plywood and rough boards, but there’s a space with shelves back in there, except they’re not closed in. You can see the back side of the concrete blocks that make the outside wall. In other words, anything that gets pushed off falls into the blackness and is never seen again—another thing you just can’t think about because you have to function.

At any rate, that is where they were, and I prepared to hunt the little bastards. This time I didn’t use the old reliable mouse traps with the metal bar that’s on a spring and comes down wham, but opted for new-fangled plastic ones that don’t work worth a damn. That is, yes, apparently they worked, but not the way you’d want them to: namely, the traps just disappeared. That’s right, dragged or flopped, whatever, gone forever in the Place That No One Sees. Were the victims dead or merely angry? How was one to know?

Believe it or not, the depredations stopped. I may or may not have smelled decomposition—in this environment, it’s hard to tell—and soon forgot about the nasty business until today.

You know what must have happened, right?


There must have been a carcass, maybe two, back behind the tub and inaccessible, but not to flies. One got in and laid some eggs. The eggs hatched into maggots. There were many pupae. The adults emerged today and headed for the light, still cold and groggy as I smashed them into bits!

I needed the vacuum cleaner afterwards. The lights went out when I plugged it into the power strip. How typical! One wonders if the hatching’s done. [Note from 5-9: not yet…] The bounty of the Lord is everlasting, but loaves and fishes next time, please.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Rita May 9, 2016, 12:28 AM

    That is so funny. Not.

    You guys do a great job of facading that place. 🙂

    • JHF May 9, 2016, 12:37 AM

      Well, this is fairly typical for an old adobe rental in these parts. That we need to get the hell out of here is also obvious. Until we can, we “facade”!

  • M.J. May 10, 2016, 4:24 PM

    This reminds me when I used to wash clothes in an old room attached to our garage. I always battled vermin in there. It was a scary experience sometimes opening the top to the washer and having mice jump out at me. I learned from my aunt who used to do the books for a Walmart. They used pie pans filled with Coke Cola at night in the store and the little critters would die right there and they would sweep them out in the mornings. They can’t burb. It works and they don’t have a chance to go in the cracks. You would have to keep Callie the cat out of it. But the door closed to the bathroom might work. I have used this method and crated the dogs.

    • JHF May 10, 2016, 9:52 PM

      “Sweep them out in the mornings”? Good Lord! Well, I won’t forget that. Should certainly be cheap to try. At the moment, we’re not seeing any evidence of mice. The cat hears them, though, so they’re never far away.

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