We built the chicken coop in
a corner of the barn. One side was open. Put chicken wire floor
to ceiling, totally encasing the coop. Along the open side, a
board across the outside of the wire with sheet metal attached
served as a weather break. The feed storage bin sat in the coop
up against this outside wall. Besides the chickens cracked
corn, we store hay and the horses grain in the barn. All tasty
treats for the rat population.
Rats in the barn are to be expected. We knew they were there.
Had seen evidence of their comings and goings. The barn being
about 200 yards up the hill by the edge of the woods is far enough
from the house so that their presence was not a major concern.
They only ate the leavings and didnt do any damage. We
just took the usual precautions when storing the feeds and left
it at that.
Theres no denying, chickens are messy creatures. They peck,
scratch and scatter their feed all over. Not to mention the mounds
of droppings they leave when they roost at night. Our flock of
30 or so were true to their nature.
We let the birds roam free range during the day. Only closed
the coop at night after they had all roosted. This cut down on
the mess a little, but the coop still needed an occasional cleaning.
Feeling energetic one morning, I tackled the job. With rake in
hand, went in the coop, started working. Raked up the straw base
we put down to catch the droppings - gathered and removed it.
The feed bin was setting a little crooked. When I moved it away
from the wall, saw the hole in the ground underneath it. Looked
around, found a good sized stick and just out of curiosity poked
it in the hole. Not a wise move on my part.
When I poked a big old rat came running up between the chicken
wire and the sheet metal right in front of me, heading for the
horizontal supporting board. Followed by another and another.
Thinking back on it now, I know my next move was just plain stupid.
It happened so fast, my only thought at the time was, "Ive
got to stop them". Took the stick out, reached over the
hole and jabbed it thru the chicken wire managing to pin down
one of the rats. Thought I would kill it with the jab, but only
succeeded in immobilising it. Trapped, it cried out in loud continuous
shrieks. Hearing the alarm, one of its pack jumped out
of the hole at my feet - straight for my face. I saw and heard
it at about the same time. Got my attention. Missing my face
by inches, it ran back down the hole. Its counterattack
was successful. I released its comrade and backed off in
The parade of rats continued - up the wall to the board, over
to the connecting corner was, across it, then disappeared down
the other side. Counted twenty before I just gave up and left.
More were still coming out. They had won the battle - I was by
Never saw them again - alive.
A trip to our local hardware
store saw to the that. Purchased a very effective rat poison.
Placed it strategically all around the barn. In due time, started
finding 2 or 3 dead rats at a time, where they had just barely
been able to crawl out of their holes. Dogs brought me a few
they found. All told, reduced their number greatly.
They won the battle - I won the