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Thinking back on it now, I know my next move was just plain stupid

 

 

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 chicken’s 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 didn’t do any damage. We just took the usual precautions when storing the feeds and left it at that.


There’s 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, "I’ve 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 it’s 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. It’s counterattack was successful. I released it’s comrade and backed off in a heartbeat.


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 far outnumbered.


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 war.

 

 

Last updated 23 February 2010

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