21 May 2010

Not for the squeamish

My mental soundtrack this week has been either UB40's 'Rat in mi kitchen' or the Boomtown Rats' 'Rat-trap'. When I walked into the chickens' section of the barn on Tuesday afternoon to find three rats helping themselves to the hens' food I realised that the time had come to do something about the unwelcome extra guests at their table. Egg production had been dropping recently: either because the hens were unhappy with their uninvited visitors or (possibly) because the rats had been stealing the eggs.

The dog had found a nest of baby rats in the barn on Sunday, but he was going to need some help to deal with the adults. We paid a visit to a local farm supply store on Tuesday and invested in two heavy-duty rat traps. Within twenty four hours we'd caught three rats. The tally so far this week  is seven adult rats, five babies and one mouse. One of the adults was actually caught by the dog (not bad, considering he's not a ratting breed), but the traps are proving to be very efficient at rapidly despatching the creatures. We didn't want to use poison, in case the dog decides to bite into a dead or dying rat (and from a general reluctance to put poison of any kind into the environment).

My biggest challenge came yesterday, when I was on my own and responsible for disposing of a dead rat by myself for the first time. The last occasion when I was knowingly anywhere near one was when we did a rat dissection one at school in the 1980s. That memory actually helped a bit, as I steeled myself to extract the rat from the trap.

I was going to put a picture of a dead rat here, but decided that it might be stretching the forbearance of my readers. The good news is that the chickens seem to be happier and are back to laying at their previous rate.

1 comment:

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Oh my gosh Amanda .. that is one "ugh !!" job to do .. You are a lot stronger than I am .. I would be running in the other direction for some time to escape the job ! LOL
Glad to hear things are coming back to normal and the hens aren't so stressed now : )