Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Room 101

I'm not an original. My life is full of clichés, being, as I am, only human. My Room 101 is also rat-filled. Over the years of country living I have shifted from being a bit of an ex-London milk-sop to quite a brave beasty. Not just brave as in "aren't you brave to wear that hat", but brave as in "move over, I'll squeeze the pus out of that massive abscess on the sheep's bum". I'm a little sensitive about touching some things directly and I do keep a supply of latex gloves handy for the yuckier moments. Still, I'm not as fazed by stuff as was my younger self. But we all have our limits, and mine is Rattus norvegicus. They might, scientifically speaking, be called medium sized rodents. In my book, every rat is HUGE, there are MILLIONS of them in every corner and they will RUN UP MY LEG. I even feel a chill up the spine when I turn to the rat pages in my Reader's Digest Field Guide to the Animals of Britain and am confronted with pictures of said rodent.
So, you could say farming as a life choice is rather daft. You might say that rats are inevitable on farms. You should also say that poultry and their associated feedstuffs will guarantee rats. You'd be right on all counts. But I know that mostly they keep themselves to themselves and if I don't see them, they aren't really there. Self delusion. I can see the holes in the barn cob walls where rats have nested and probably are nesting right now. I see the rat droppings (urgghhhh) in the duck house. They dispatch young poultry lovingly nurtured, unless you completely rodent-proof their area (I cried when a rat killed and dragged a four week old gosling under the goose-hut door). I look up into the rafters of the decaying stable and catch a view of a long pink tail switching out of sight. I move a piece of corrugated tin and the earth seems to heave and swarm with previously cosy rats. I yell and yell and yell. The neighbours come running to make sure I haven't cut off my own head with the chainsaw or anything equally dramatic. The dogs run to my rescue. But those who know me best recognise the quality of the squealing and start to laugh. It's just rats after all.

8 comments:

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

mountainear said...

In my Room 101 rats would be jostling for space with the numerous politicians and estate agents already crammed in there. There's probably a grey squirrel too.

But having said that, rats are only doing what rats do. A fact of country life.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Mopsa, if you can't have cats because of the poultry, get a gun and practice!

Mopsa said...

Thanks BC - nice to have a visitor all from Kerala

Mountainear -I know it's a fact of country (and urban) life - but they terrify the pants off me.

M&M - I have two fab hunting cats who keep the mouse population down beautifully plus the odd smallish rat. It's the ones too big for them to tackle that unnerve me so. And yes, I did once shoot rats many moons ago.... one to think on

Eurodog said...

Ah yes rats. We have them in the clubhouse at our dog club and although often not in anybody's view as you rightly say, some dogs given half the chance will hunt high and low to find them. Especially Jack Russells.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Hello there! This is my first visit to your rural blog and what is the first topic I find - Rats! Mmmm... I just love em. I find that you need four plumpish rats to make a good rat balti - a few onions and perhaps a chopped up aubergine with a jar of Tesco Balti Sauce - simmer for thirty minutes. Rat meat is similar to chicken but with a slightly stronger, earthier flavour. Perhaps you could think about commercial rat rearing on your smallholding?

Mopsa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mopsa said...

Hi Eurodog - yup will try and borrow a bunch of trusty Jack Russels to tame the swarms.

And YP - you are welcome to help yourself to the free meat - just don't expect me to join the picnic.