Tag Archives: rats

Day 134

Got up, had a bacon croissant sandwich for breakfast, went to work and found a parking space. Home for lunch (it’s my half day) for vegetable soup I made last night. Does it get better than that?

The answer seems to be “no”. Nothing in the rest of the day, even watching Mega Shark Versus Kolossus and eating a Magnum choc ice, though good, failed to improve on the morning.

I suppose that an outbreak of world peace and a sudden dose of common sense influencing international politics would improve on a bacon sandwich, but it didn’t happen and so the day is tailing off. Julia will be making burritos for tea and Pointless Celebrities is on soon, so there are still things to look forward to, despite this anti-climax.

Yesterday, I found out a very interesting fact. Two, in fact. One is that rats and mice are unable to pass wind, in either direction. Julia said something very unkind when I told her this, but as I said, blame my healthy high-fibre diet. The second is that simply calling yourself “organic” doesn’t make you a nice person.

The reason I say this is because I found out how organic gardeners kill rats. Unfortunately, with neighbours who put out too much bird food and have BBQs and decking (all good stuff if you are a rat) I am forced to take action from time to time. I don’t want to poison a cat and I don’t want rats in the garden, so I use a trap. Organic gardeners have another method.

They don’t use poison, because that would be bad. They use baking soda, delivered in a number of ways,, usually mixed with peanut butter or a flour and sugar mix. The rats eat the baking soda, the soda reacts and produces carbon dioxide when it hits the digestive acids of the rat. And the rat, instead of releasing the gas, inflates.

You aren’t actually poisoning the rats, you are inflating them until their internal organs rupture. This, to me, seems a lot worse than simply poisoning or trapping them. Maybe I’m not cut out to be an eco-warrior.

 

Saturday morning and some time to spare

A blue tit is squeaking from somewhere near our neighbour’s roof. I  have seen or heard it several times and I have wondered if it might be nesting. There is a gap under the tiles and they have nested there before, though it seems a bit late in the season to be looking at a new site. According to naturalists on TV they have had a bad season this year, the cold spring preventing the flush of caterpillars that usually coincides with the hatching of their young. No food meant a poor success rate.  We tend not to feed the birds these days because it attracts squirrels, magpies and rats. None of them are particularly welcome. Several of the neighbours over-feed, and some even put food out for foxes. I’ve told them several times that this causes rats, but they ignore me. One even told me that it was my unkempt nature plot that caused the rat problem. Not true. Rats need to eat, and there is nothing for them here. Gardens that leave out food scraps and hard boiled eggs are the cause of the rat problem, and gardens with decking. The stories I could tell you about decking . . .

I have actually sat in a neighbour’s garden and watched rats, in daylight, emerge from under their shed and climb the bird table to feed. The neighbour treated it as if it were a nature documentary. It’s not the fault of the rats, it’s the fault of humans who don’t have the sense they were born with.

After a lifetime killing rats on farms, and knowing a man who caught Weil’s disease whilst fishing, I don’t take rats lightly. There’s something about a rat that riggers a murderous impulse in me. I have actually seen people playing with pet rats in public, and have felt myself wanting to go over and  kill it. Fancy rats, despite their colours and cute faces are just the same as the normal disease-ridden bird killing garden rat – they were originally bred from colour variations that Victorian ratcatchers found in sewers. Bear that in mind next time you see one.

Trousers, rats and vole-au-vents

Yesterday comprised mainly of paperwork, a meeting and fighting my way through traffic. The latter was caused by having to pick up some alterations Julia was having done. We’re going to a wedding reception on Saturday night and she wanted her new trousers to fit. I’m have new trousers too, but I have lower personal standards in matters of appearance so mine will be going on straight out of the bag.

I haven’t actually bought new trousers for the reception, it’s just that time of year. Two pairs of black, two pairs of dark green and I’m set for weddings, funerals, interviews, casual wear and anything else the world may throw at me in the next 12 months. Last year’s trousers now become working garments and don’t ask me about the year before because I’m hard on trousers and after two years you can almost sense them sighing with relief as they split, tear or simply wear through.

Being a modern couple, Julia’s niece and husband got married abroad and are holding the reception in Nottingham because that’s where they live. Suits me. In the old days we’d have had to trek down to Suffolk, where the bride’s parents live, and I’d have felt duty-bound to complain all the way down.

I suppose that isn’t a bad trade off – an hour in traffic set off against a trip to Suffolk and back.

While I was parked behind a building waiting for Julia I was treated to the sight of a young rat cavorting in an overgrown margin. It seemed full of the joys of spring and looked very well fed, but you would do if you have access to an endless supply of discarded take-away food.

I used to shout at rats and throw things at them, but they don’t understand me and I always miss. I now take a more laid back approach and merely think bad things about them. I don’t like them but I’m not going to raise my blood pressure over them when it achieves nothing.

I have an inventive solution to the rat problem, which I wrote about a year ago but was never able to find a reason to use it. I have a reason now. It also addresses another modern problem.

They say you’re never more than six feet away from a rat (or two metres for my younger readers) and estimates vary from one rat per person to two rats per person, according to something I was reading recently.

These rats are free range and at six foot the food miles are not great.

Ah, the “food miles” bit rather gives it away. Think about it, rats are seen as a legitimate foodstuff in some parts of the world and they are certainly more traditional than tofu and micro-veg.

Free range local food. If you applied that label to chicken people would pay a premium for it.

I was almost saddened to see that both figures are probably wrong, with only one rat to share between six of us and a distance of 50 metres. However, it’s still a practical proposition, and with the new super rat there will be more meat to go around. Incidentally, that last link also says there will be three times as many rats as people, which is a good example of why it’s a bad idea to believe anything you read on the net.

If you don’t fancy a rat, how about starting with something smaller and cuter – the vole-au-vent. A cute rodent garnished with something tasty in a puff pastry shell. I’m wondering if I could send out a press release and get anyone to believe that. Or to see if I could get Heston Blumenthal interested in the recipe.

 

 

100!

I’ve been looking forward to this one as a milestone, though simply getting to number 100 is no guarantee of quality, or that I’ll have something to say.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is actually the 103rd post I’ve written for the blog but I’ve sidelined two as not quite fitting in. One was on the evils of cheap toilet rolls, including a discussion on why smaller cardboard tubes may be better for transport but they make planting runner beans more difficult.

The other was about keeping rats out of compost but it spread a little to include other rat-related topics. Before clicking on the link you may like to know that you keep rats out of compost by making it damp enough to be unpleasant. If you have rodents in the compost it means it’s too dry.

We had a meeting in the centre today and two soups for lunch – Leek and potato with thyme, and Nettle and Spinach. Everybody had some of the nettle in the end, though a couple did start off with Leek and Potato to break themselves in gently. Last time we did soup and sandwiches we only persuaded around 60% of people to have the soup even though the choice was Pea and Mint or Vegetable, which are not at all scary compared to Nettle.

With the meeting, the cafe and the allotment group we had quite a crowd. I was supposed to be weeding, sowing more seeds and re-potting as part of our plan for a plant sale. Regular readers (both of them) will recognise this as a prelude to admitting that by the time I’d made extra sandwiches, been ensnared by the cafe, done some weeding, spoken to some parents about coming to our next Kids in the Kitchen day, run an impromptu farm tour and done some paperwork I didn’t do much of what I was meant to do. I did, however, remember to water the plants in the polytunnels. That’s good, because I don’t always remember.