Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Ahhh, winter.  The time when all of Nature seems to slow down and sleep for the colder months.  The time when even the little birds in the trees seem sleepy and lazy.  When the plants in the garden furl up and die rest.  Even the light is washed out and tired, pale and disinterested. 

The only exception to this bucolic placidity would appear the be the bastard rats in our garden.  They are getting extra-specially busy.  Perhaps they are swept up in the excitement of the pre-Christmas rush.

I bet they have made"to do" lists:

1)  Run out from under the shed and frisk round the garden (Note: only do this after Mr WithaY's Landrover has left the drive.)
2)  Climb into apple tree and gnaw on remaining apples. 
3)  Remember to glare into the kitchen window while doing this.
4)  Avoid the rat traps.  Especially the one in the top of the compost bin.
5)  Continue with Project S.
6)  Ignore the bread spread with peanut butter outside the shed.  It's another trap. 
7)  Buy kevlar vests.
8)  Get in touch with the mole and remind him that he is spending the rest of Winter with us.
9)  Have a word with the robin about the meaning of the word "Sharing".

I have broken their code.  I know what Project S is all about.  It's about gnawing a hole in the floor of the shed from underneath so they can get in there and play with all our stuff.  I fully anticipate seeing a team of rats riding my bicycle* round the garden before Spring. 

The garden, incidentally, which is being gradually converted from a moss-infested dank wilderness to a tidy, fertile home for all manner of fruits and flowers.  I planted raspberry canes the other weekend, before I went down with the Black Lung.  I also planted up the big stone trough with Spring bulbs, so with any luck we will have tulips, irises, crocuses, hyacinths and narcissi.  Assuming the resident wildlife doesn't start using the place as a snack bar, of course. 

I saw a squirrel in the apple tree again, he was tucking into the peanut feeder we hung there for the birds.  He stopped stealing nuts for long enough to stick two fingers up at me, then went back to his thieving.  Mr WithaY recently saw a rat in there too, calmly eating one of the apples without a care in the world. 

Earlier today I saw a woodpecker on the same feeder, tucking into the nuts.  We've also had blue tits, coal tits, great tits, wrens, sparrows, jackdaws, greenfinches, pigeons, collared doves, starlings and a crow.  Oh, and the scary robin.  He is a terror.  All the other birds seems to be afraid of him, and I can see why.

Other news:  I am on the mend.  Hurrah.  I am still coughing like a pauper from a Victorian workhouse, but the pain in my chest has lessened and I don't think I have a temperature any more. 

*And, to be honest, that would be the first time it has been ridden in 8 years.  Anyone want to buy it?


@eloh said...

Years ago I had a friend with a horrible rat problem. He bought some poison from the farm store that was called "rat balls", no kidding. It was a sack of balls that you did NOT open, you just laid it where the rats were hanging out. It ended his rat problem.

I ended up needing some too, and it also worked for me. The children had a pool and it attracted the poisoned rats.

I worried to death about the dogs getting a hold of a poisoned rat so I leashed them for a couple weeks.

Another time, the size of the rat scared the fire out of me... so I just shot it with a fairly large gun. That worked too.

I love this post.

Isabella Golightly said...

Tell you what, we'll do a swap. You can have my dusty flat-tyred bicycle with the huge seat for my hugh jarse and I'll have yours. You can have the cicadas which are ear-piercingly loud, and I'll have the rats. You can have the Koel, which pops over from Indonesia every summer to wake us all at 4.30am, and I'll take the Robin. But you can keep the black lung. Okay?

livesbythewoods said...

Eloh, I like the sound of "Rat Balls". I think I may have seen them on restaurant menus before, though.

We don't use poison because we are worried about other things getting hold of it (hedgehogs, mice etc), but the traps are not proving to be as effective as I had hoped.

The "very large gun" approach is a good one.

Isabella, you can have my bike if you pay for the postage. And the Koel sounds scary - is it some sort of giant lizard-dragon thing?

The Black Lung is available to a good home, all offers considered.

badgerdaddy said...

I'd take the bike, but I'm not very tall so it might not be much use for me.

livesbythewoods said...

Badgerdaddy, I will measure it and email you. If it fits, you can have it, matey.

Spencer said... is the place for you. You will be rid of that bike in moments. Maybe you could insist they come as a package? Offer: One ladies bicycle in mint condition, comes complete with a nest of rats and a cloud of Black Lung germs. Buyer collects. Will not consider requests to split. That will stop anyone who only wants the Black Lung and refuses to take the pesky bicycle....