Well, we're definitely in the country now. Earlier this week we found a baby rattlesnake just outside the back door curled up on the porch. Then we found mice droppings in the kitchen. And just now we rehomed a large garden spider from a storage box in the house to outside where he belongs.
In all honesty, I have no idea if the snake really was a rattlesnake. He was quite small, maybe a bit over a foot long. But he sure thought he was a rattlesnake. He shook his little tail at me and tried to strike a few times. So Jeff did what he was raised to do: get a hoe and take care of the problem. The little guy was so small and tried to act so tough that I felt rather sorry for him, but he was too minuscule to make out his markings clearly (eye shape, pits, rattles, etc). All the telling signs I had studied for in the National Aududon Society Field Guild to Reptiles and Amphibians were obscured by his aggressive behavior. So, better safe than sorry, given that he was literally inches from the door. So much for the Field Guide!
The mouse scat was rather unpleasant, but I suppose expected since we live in the middle of a 40 acre field in a rather large, drafty house with far more entrances than just the welcoming front and back doors. We'll have to address that issue, but I don't think Jeff will go for my suggestion of a fun furry kitten.
Lastly, the lovely garden spider. We have already relocated one large fellow, so either he found his way back in or he has friends and relations. These are big black guys with yellow markings and they make the most fabulous webs overnight. Fabulous in the garden, that is. The spider was hiding out in a small plastic shoebox storage container in which I keep all kinds of tape. So Jeff snapped the lid on and took it out to the porch. But when he removed the lid, we couldn't find the spider. We suspected that he had slipped out of the box and was preparing to shut and lock the door behind us. Given that these creatures had the house to themselves for over a year, I'm not sure who the actual intruders are in this scenario!
But since we pay the mortgage, any suggestions for non-chemical techniques to keep the uninvited house-guest population down would be appreciated. We have already seen two of the largest brown recluse spiders ever hiding out in our shop, so that may require heavy handed intervention. But I actually don't mind most spiders in the house. Snakes and mice are a different story, though, so if you have ideas I'd love to hear them.