I thought I heard some scratching in the ceiling and Gilbert was happy to get up there and set our new DOC approved rat and possum killing machine. With a gas valve thing, the rat pokes his nose up to get at the peanut butter and gets a bonk on the head so hard he is knocked out and falls down dead. It could be called “no mess Charlie” as he’s just dead there with no blood. No removing and resetting. The idiots just stepped over their buddies and got the same treatment. Gilbert checked on it a few days later and we were stunned to find three fat rats lying dead. I was abit grossed out to think they were wandering around in the ceiling above us but a reset got no more, so we felt assured we had got them all.
In the garden meanwhile I merrily moved the hens over to their next bay and planted out 50 corn plants and a dozen beans so they could suck up all that extra nitrogen from the Chook poo and fill our freezer come harvest time. Over the next few days I watched with growing annoyance as the hens seemed to favour the newly tilled spots where the corn was planted and did their darnedest to get back in that bay. They clamoured up onto the recooperation unit and hurled themselves at the fence and despite their wings being clipped they would lurch in at a crazy angle and squawk and scream as they scrambled over only to cluck with joy at the others peering eyes through the mesh on the other side.
Mostly it was the lighter aracanas who got over and daily I would go in and grab them by the scruff of their necks and biff them back over while they squawked and tried to evade me. ‘Bitch’ I’d yell childishly, as if she actually cared. The only way I stopped them was to thread sticks along the top edge so they didn’t see a way in. By the time I did that I had about half the plants left.
The sun shone and the rain soaked and the remaining corn and one bean plant grew. I threw in some more bean plants and cursed that they would be late but better late than never I reminded myself. Sometimes when working in the garden I’d hear an uproar in the hen run and would wander over but find them all scratching around outside and nothing untoward happening, until one morning after feeding I stood and surveyed the corn. I was waiting for the silken tassels to fade from a greeny shade to that golden sun ripened colour. I stood stock still, hardly believing my eyes as I was looking at cobs still on the stalk but stripped completely bare where they they stood. I was having trouble comprehending this when the one hen that was happily pecking at the feed I had just put in squawked and ran into the corner of the enclosure, hitting the wall she spun and went out the exit I assume she had been aiming for.
That’s funny I thought. What would make her miss the opening? Moving slightly sideways I saw the fattest rat with a long tail swing in a loop behind him, leap out of the hens feeding bin after seeing my movement and disappeared out a hole he’d prepared earlier. Apart from being disgusted, it happened so fast I hadn’t even flinched before he was gone. I looked back at the corn cobs and it all fell into place. The hens had all but stopped laying, the feed was going fast no matter how much was put there and the bastards not content with that had cleaned out the remaining cobs. I went up to Gilbert had squawked a bit myself I can tell you!
Next day he instructed me to feed as normal and he perched himself in line with the feeding trough, gun at the ready and waited. It wasn’t long before fatso came out and bang. He was legs in the air. Never knew what hit him.
We figured there would be more and he watched and waited over the next few days but no more ventured near. We laid traps and bait and cleared the long grass around the run. Another year has gone that my freezer didn’t get filled which I’m a bit gutted about, but we learn’t so much about rats. We read they will send out a scout if something new happens. They won’t touch bait or traps for a few days and then the scout will be sent to have a go and if he doesn’t come back they won’t touch it. The upshot of this is to be changing the methods around. Sometimes have a trap, sometimes have bait out and sometimes you need to smack em between the eyes with a gun. Anyway…excellent compost addition. A dead animal makes a great start for a tree.
And if this wasn’t enough of an assault we started to smell the unmistakeable smell of a dead animal in the kitchen. We emptied cupboards and searched under the house and in the ceiling but still it got stronger. Totally mystified Gilbert decided to pull out the oven and as he held the oven, he instructed I look. I removed one tiny mouse that was not very smelly at all having decomposed to a completely dried state. Oven put back in we continued to walk around sniffing trying to locate the EXACT position of the smell at its strongest and kept coming back to the oven. Hmmmm….
Gilbert pulled the oven out again and proceeded to remove the outer framework of the oven itself and sure enough there was a mouse AND a rat firmly wedged into the oven wiring. I had to use a pair of chopsticks to slip him down and out and as he lay on a biscuit packet hastily grabbed. The three kids peered over the oven exclaiming over his little legs and long tail, when suddenly Wheriko started screaming. “He’s alive, he’s alive!” “Jeepers Wheri, I said, he’s not alive. He’s well dead.” Most of his fur was falling out with the electric shock perhaps but with her continued screams I looked over and sure enough he was moving, but not alive. No, he was squirmingly full of fat maggots. Man you need to be hard when dealing with these things. It was pretty disgusting but we removed all the ovens sides and checked for anymore electrocuted creatures before blocking up access holes and put that down to a first time and hopefully last.
Renny arrived mid rat removal with a friend to meet us for the first time. Ummmm why hello Hannah. You’ve already had dinner? Great! If you don’t mind I won’t shake your hand and no don’t look over my shoulder, we are just removing enemy no 1. Well perhaps no 7, but hey, whose counting?