Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

The story of the mouse ladders

mouse ladder in goat barn

Once upon a time, a girl least likely to from a land called vegan chai asked “what are mouse ladders?” Battling quicksand (a warm bed) and fearsome creatures (traffic) this morning, I made my way to the fabled land (poplar spring) and captured on film (memory card) the story of the mouse ladders.

And then I came home to make cupcakes. Mint chocolate chip from vctotw. They’ve got ganache and everything.

Seriously, though, the mouse ladder question was asked, and I promised to get pictures. It was a good day for pictures, because I saw not only the mouse ladders, I saw some mice as well!
a mouse at poplar spring

Not, alas, using the ladders, but you can see why the little things would need ladders to get out of the bowls.

In case it needs to be said, the mice are part of the Poplar Spring family. They are part of life in the barns, and their lives are respected, they are valued. The water bowls are made safe for these little residents.

The mouse ladder is a simple bit of metal, with holes in it, bent so it hangs over the edge of the water bowl and into the water. That way if a mouse falls in or jumps in or ends up in the water bowl for whatever reason, he or she can climb back out.

bucket with mouse ladder

You can see how small the mice are compared to the water bowls. And the green one is one of the smaller bowls, typically used in the chicken barns.

The goat barn and horse barn get these deeper buckets, which have correspondingly longer mouse ladders. If the green bowls would be impossible for the mice to get out of, just imagine if they ended up in these deep buckets! But a simple piece of metal solves that issue, and makes life in the barns safe for the mice.

The question of mouse ladders got me thinking about the mice, which got me thinking about the many other animals that find sanctuary at Poplar Spring. I’ll write more on this later; there really is too much to share (i.e., I took a lot of pictures today) to confine it to one post. says sanctuary is:

  • any place of refuge; asylum.
  • a tract of land where birds and wildlife, esp. those hunted for sport, can breed and take refuge in safety from hunters.

If I was to come up with a definition, I’d definitely use the first definition, but I’d change the second slightly. It would be more like this:

  • a place where birds and wildlife and other animals, esp. those exploited by humans or hunted for sport, can take refuge in safety from humans.

I might refine this definition as I think about it more, but that’s pretty close. I had the mice in mind as I went to put in some time at poplar spring today, and I knew I wanted pictures of the mice ladders. Those little ladders have come to symbolize to me what sanctuary is about. I was surprised, though, at the many other animals I saw taking sanctuary at poplar spring that I hadn’t yet incorporated into my view. It was a good day.

mouse ladder


2 responses to “The story of the mouse ladders

  1. girl least likely to December 14, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    thank you so much for this post! i adore the mouse ladders! what a wonderful idea. you’re such a sweetheart for taking pictures and everything. i love that a mouse showed up. heh.

  2. Deb December 14, 2006 at 11:34 pm


    oh, i’m a picture taking fool, so it was no problem to get a few more pics! and i thank you for the idea of taking pictures of these small (but huge) details. I was focused entirely on the residents themselves until you asked about the mouse ladders, so it was really good for me to take another look at life at the sanactuary from a slightly different perspective!

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