Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Oh, Rats! Two Stories

You may have read a few times about our rat problem here at the Cockeyed Homestead. Nothing was safe or sacred to these pests. They invaded our home, in the walls, furnace and water heater closet, in our cabinets and pantry, they were everywhere that our Herbie or cats couldn't get to them.

All winter long we battled this vermin. We were at our wits end. We had tried everything organic even suggested to rid us of this pest  We were tired of them scurrying around having a high old time. They must have put a all call to all their friends and relatives too from the amount of dropping we were sweeping up.

 Story #1

Yes I bought the 9 lb bucket!
Outside they were even worse. They nested in our storage buildings, barn, rabbitry, the greenhouse, and chicken house. We couldn't leave their food out overnight because they'd crawl into the cages at night with the rabbits to feast. We tried planting herbs that deter the rodents around the house and out buildings, we set traps out and finally we resorted to poison. We placed the bait where our animals couldn't get to it in case they wanted to nibble it, or in Herbie's case, gobble it down. I bought the 9 lb tub because we had multiple areas to put it in.

After about a week, we checked on the bait. Not even a nibble was eaten of the cubes! Well, that didn't work. Maybe another brand would work better, I thought.  We picked up all the bait cubes and placed the container in my stores building. I bought a much smaller box pf rat bait and kill the next times I was in Tractor Supply. I complained bitterly to the store manager and got a refund without having my receipt or bringing it back in. You gotta understand that I spend $100 or more each trip I make into that store. In a small community like ours, could they really afford losing me as a customer?

Still, I was upset the rat poison hadn't worked. This was an ultimate no-no for an organic homestead, but we were desperate. Especially when the rats chewed the container of Angora wool and soiled it. If the rats were diseased and with our rabbits, we'd have a big crunch in our pocketbooks. Not to mention, rats could/would eat/kill and kits born. Even moving all eleven rabbits inside out house wouldn't guarantee their safety. This would be impossible.

These rabbits are not only our livelihood, but they are part of our family too. The sale of their wool and offspring cover the cost of their yearly feed bill, as well as part of our living expenses for our homestead.

Anyhow we put the new bait and kill out again. Within another week, we were rewarded by seeing several dead rats here and there. But the numbers weren't as high as I expected. I knew we still had a rat problem because we could hear them scampering and fighting in the walls. Still, it was a start.

We were cleaning rat poop out of the stores building one day, when I noticed chewed white plastic slivers by the door. On closer inspection, I noticed a hole was chewed into the lid of the Tomcat rat bait/kill. There's no accounting for rats having brains. And, to think they use rats to test drugs and diseases on for us! These rats must have been desperate. I was even more astonished by the fact that the 9 lb tub was empty! Inside the bucket was peed on bait stuck to the creases and rat droppings. As we cleaned the storage building there were no telltale signs of rat infestation. Later, we noticed the absence of telltale rat noises in the house too.

Wonders of wonders, the rats didn't want the bait given to them, but wanted to work for their food. I felt bad about getting my money back from Tractor Supply. The next time I went in there, I told him what happened. I offered to pay him back. He laughingly refused. "Mrs. M, we're just glad to see your smiling face back in our store."

Story #2

You know with rats comes other critters that love to eat rats. I'm talking about snakes. While Patches, the cat, has done a pretty good job killing rats in the barn, there were some places she couldn't get at them. Mel's Christmas decorations was a prime example. The rats had made a home in these boxes and tubs along with others. We are still currently going through all the boxes and tubs in the barn. One of the rats' favorite places to nest was in Mel's large tool chest.

For a year now, Mel opened her drawer very gingerly on the lookout for furry creatures. Mel's chicken also laid their eggs in the top hatch before the chicken coop. You may remember my post about Broody/Gimpy going broody and hatching out a chick in this tool box.

As she was going about doing spring fix ups, she again was opening drawers in her tool chest and pulling out various rat nesting materials as she went. She pulled open the bottom big drawer and there sat a snake. It looked up at her with a dazed look upon his face like she had awoken him from a nap. This snake must have had a grand old time eating rats because he was 4' long! She grabbed a stick, picked him up, and took him to a heavily wooded area of our property to release him.

Upon returning to the tool chest, she looked inside to find a another 2' long garter snake. He wasn't too happy that Mel had taken away his friend. He rattled something in the tool chest that made him sound like a rattle snake. He coiled up like he was going to strike at her. Mel just chuckled at his antics. She picked him up with the same stick and was leaving the barn when Nnyus rounded the corner to see what she was up to. Nnyus is deathly afraid of snakes. The dog screamed when she saw what Mel held and ran in the opposite direction. I'm with Nnyus where snakes are concerned. Mel carried this feisty, little fellow  to the woods. She hoped they would find each other again.

In recounting the story to me she said she almost had a heart attack finding the first one. She was expecting furry little critters and found a big, slimy one. I told her she would have had to of called 9-1-1 for me because I would have had a heart attack. In my case with my bad heart, it darn could have killed me.

Y'all have a blessed day.

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