Working on the Shed…


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The rain has gone and the frost has gone
soon I will be able to carry on
with my project outside fixing the shed
replacing the trim board around the bed
where the joists and the flooring are attached
covered by this board and carefully packed
to hold the flooring together and sound
for thirty more years as it comes around.

 

I actually have the boards in place
and removed the siding to see the space
where the insulation was supposed to be
alas the rats have made history
of the original stuff that I installed
which I need to replace with another roll
this is the part of the job that I dislike
it makes me itch and break out in hives
so long pants and long sleeves and wear a mask
with gloves on my hands to lessen the task
and work as quickly as I can
the fastest insulator in the land.

 

with the stuff installed and the siding in place
another project complete in my space
I still have other things to do
like clearing the frozen vegetation too
and to fix the fence where it leans with age
next on the list on my written page
I like to do these sort of things
a lifetime of training flying by on wings
of time as it marches towards the end
let’s fix the fence while I still can.

Written 12/9/2017

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Rats in my house? Wait, they are babies….


DSC_0388I think I mentioned in a previous blog of my war on the rats that have gained access to both the house and the roof area. The traps that I set in the roof have met with limited success and have killed a couple of big rats and there has not been any activity that I can hear of the rats still up there. Of course, it is bloody hot up there so probably any smart rats would find a cooler environment.

However, work on the living area of the house has also resulted in a few kills but recently, nothing to talk of although I have suspected that at least one rat still has a hiding place that so far neither I or the dogs have been able to locate.

Further proof of that came a couple of days ago when Pete, the Chihuahua was intently looking at something on the floor. I have seen him do this with large bugs and even a bit of fluff it it happens to blow around so I went over to investigate in what was so interesting. I should mention that it was around one o’clock in the afternoon just to put things in focus so several hours had passed since we crawled out of bed. Much to my surprise, what Pete was looking at started to wiggle and I could see that it was a baby rat. It was a tiny little thing and I started looking around and on the hearth, found another one of them still very much alive. They were both quite active as I watched them trying to think of what I should do. It was a bit of a quandary as on the one hand, I was trying desperately hard to kill the mother and any other full grown rats and here in front of me was one of the miracles of Nature, two baby rats. They were so small and so vulnerable that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish them off. I grabbed a small syringe and tried to feed them some milk but their mouths were no bigger than a pinhead and I could tell that it wasn’t doing much good and besides, it was covering them in milk. I was afraid that my human smell would cause the Mother to reject them if she came back.

Meanwhile, Pete was not finished and had located three more of the little guys. I collected them and added them to the original pair and then took a careful look around to see if there were any more. I went on Google to find out a little bit about Rats and learned that they could have as many as twelve babies which got me looking even harder. I was not able to locate anymore but that doesn’t mean the the Momma might not have had more somewhere else. I would have thought that she would have been a bit better prepared and if she is so well hidden from me, had them wherever her hiding place is..

That still left me in a difficult position. I could not find it in my heart to kill them just as I don’t think I could kill an adult rat if it faced up to me. Sure, I do it the cowardly way by setting traps although in my defence, I usually set a catch and release trap as well and when I have caught the rats in that trap, have driven to where the open fields are with no houses around and released them.

So, I came up with a plan. I placed the babies on a paper towel in the middle of a folding fence so the dogs would not get to them and left them there overnight hoping that the Momma rat would carry them off. Morning came and there were the rats just as i had left them but scattered around a bit as their wiggles caused them to separate. All five were still alive but the paper towel was gone and I still have not located it two days later. I hope Momma Rat has not built a nest with it if she has other babies. Incidentally, I placed traps of both kinds along with food inside the folding fence overnight but the Momma Rat ignored them all. She may have fed the babies for all I know.

DSC_0384On Day 2, the babies spent the entire day in the same spot only showing any type of movement when they wiggled around. By the evening, I could tell they were getting weaker but I left everything as before overnight. In the morning, there were only four of them left on the floor and they were all dead. I located the fifth one back up on the hearth where the Momma  must have  moved it but it too had died. I collected them up glad that this little episode was over and at the same time a little sad over their deaths. I still felt a bit of a quandary with my desire to rid the house of the adult rats and at the same time, be faced with these babies. I am also very surprised  that the Momma Rat was not better prepared to have her babies in some sort of “safer” place instead of having them on the fireplace hearth out in the open. They were tough little buggers as they lasted at least forty eight hours on their own out in the open with the AC going full blast.

Now to get back to the serious business of ridding the house of the adult rats. On second thoughts, maybe I should not try too hard as Momma may have babies stashed away somewhere and if I catch her then I will be faced with the problem of dead rat smell. On the other hand, grown babies mean more trouble for me. What a quandry….

 

 

A Better Rat Trap?


snake

A couple of days ago, I was poking around in my newly cleaned out workshop trying to find something that I knew I had just seen and I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I had put it. I  happened to glance up to the top of the storage unit and was very surprised to see a big old rat snake waving its head around. As I watched, it gracefully extended its body until it located a hole in the plywood that lines the inside of the shed, one where I hadn’t cut too closely around the roof truss, and disappeared inside behind it. It had to be all of four feet long. My first thought was that now, I had a much more lethal rat trap than I could ever buy at Home Depot and just maybe, it would clean out any stragglers that may still inhabit the place. I was quite content to let it be but for the next couple of days, was very careful when I went in looking for a tool. You know, just in case…I don’t mind snakes as long as I can see them. I hate surprises of that kind.

Yesterday, as I walked out to feed the fish, I spotted what I assume is the same snake only this time it was out in the open sliding over one of the tubs that I use to store the pond plants.  It was a fine looking fellow and was all of 4 feet long.My immediate reaction was to keep the dogs away from the snake so as not to disturb it. My second reaction was to run indoors to get my camera and then I remembered that I had my cell phone in my pocket. I whipped it out and looked at it not really knowing what I wanted to do. I knew how to take a picture but didn’t have a clue how to take a video so I missed up on that opportunity. This is from a camera man that has almost 8000 pictures in my files all taken with my DSLR Nikon. Guess I am a bit of a snob when it comes to cameras.

Meanwhile, the snake was beginning to make tracks  to get under cover so I started clicking away and managed to get a couple of decent pictures. The markings on this guy are really pretty and he shone in the sunlight. As I was just going out, I put the dogs in the house so that the snake would have a couple of hours to make tracks to where it was going. Hopefully, it will end up under the Yellow Shed as I know the pickings for him are probably pretty good. Rats beware.

It must be that he didn’t find anything in the workshop which is probably why he vacated the place. Bad for him but good for me. Damn, I love Mother Nature.

Postscript:
I wrote this piece on May 29 and have to add that as I was walking into the workshop today, June 6, I caught a whiff of the unmistakable odor of rotting flesh. Thinking that it might be a rat that managed to catch himself in one of my traps, I sniffed around (quite literally) and discovered the source of the smell outside of the workshop off to one side. It was the snake and it was very dead and already putrefying. Even the fire ants were working on it building a mound over a part of its body.
Apparently, it had decided to stay even after I had given it time to get away and Richie, the male medium size Dachshund, had found and killed it. I was away just about all weekend photographing the Austin Pond Society’s Annual Tour or I would have heard the commotion that happens when Richie finds something he thinks he needs to go after and maybe would have saved the snake. After all, I could not ask for a better rat killer than a rat snake. It’s a pity as it really was a pretty snake as snakes go and I had no desire to see it dead. Then again, Mother Nature moves in strange and mysterious ways.

Now if I could just get Richie to concentrate on catching that rat that had the nerve to dash across the floor last evening as I was watching TV with Richie on one side and Peter, the fat little Chihuahua that we recently added to the family, on the other. Ginny, the miniature Dachshund, was fast asleep on the bed and anyway, catching rats is way below her. Not at all the sort of thing that a princess does. Richie never even woke up while Pete went to investigate but as the rat was nearly as big as he is except not so fat, didn’t try very hard. So now, the war on rats has moved inside of my house and it is time to get serious about clearing them out.

I could really use that rat snake about now…..

Cold Weather


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Sitting inside in the warm
looking out of the window
as the sun is shining bright
but it is cold, very cold.

Watching the dog move around
as he tries to find a spot
in the sun to warm his bones
so he can sleep.

Aware of the birds
who are squabbling on the feeders
along with a squirrel
who steals the sunflower seeds.

Even a pair of rats
from under the small stream close by
braving the hazards of daylight
are picking over the dropped seeds.

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The other small dog rushes out
and barks at the squirrel
who chatters back at the dog
and then jumps into the tree.

The rats disappear into the rocks
to the safety of their nest
away from the dog
who is not much bigger than themselves.

Even though the sun is shining
it is too cold to stay outside
so I view the world
through my window.

This is Texas
and tomorrow
when the sun shines
it will be warm.

A Rainy Day in Texas


Blue Bird on Feeder

Blue Bird on Feeder

As I sit here in front of the glass
that looks out onto my back yard
teeming with birds of every kind
all visiting the feeders that I keep supplied
with food for them and the squirrels too
although for them uninvited guests
do help themselves whenever they want
only driven by the dogs who bark and chase
them back aloft where they sit and wait
and scold the dogs and chatter away
as though to say, “Go away, Go away”.

Squirrel

Squirrel

This battle goes on a daily basis
and sometimes the dogs manage to chase
the squirrels out of the yard by following them
and barking hard, loud enough that the squirrels decide
to leave where it is quieter but not for good
as the feeders supply them with plenty of food.

Sometimes the rats at night do raid
the feeders for they have found
easy pickings to help their insatiable need
for food of every kind and size.

Racoons or also troublesome too
and with them they are big enough
that damage to the feeders they cause
in their effort to get to the seed inside.

I have seen the feeders bent in two
or dragged up on the roof askew
in their attempts to get to the seed inside
and any method they know will try.

Today it is raining and is cold and wet
not the day to adventure out to work
in the yard as Lord only knows
there is plenty to do now the frost
has touched everything with its icy blast

Frost Damage

Frost Damage

Several days will be needed to clear the yard
of all of dead growth frozen hard
but that is OK as out with the old
Nature will spring into life and will grow
new where the old no longer resides.

Together this is an amazing thing
as the cycle of life continues on
each year singing the same old tune
out with the old and in with the new.

Thank goodness that nature knows what to do
as we would be in trouble if she forgot
and decided that this year she had enough
and was no longer going to supply us with new.

I guess I will sit inside and look
out on the yard and watch things unfold
as the birds squabble over what feeder to pick
although the one right next door
would do the trick but no, that’s not the right one
so it seems as the birds fight over on which one to perch.

Winter Snow Scene

Winter Snow Scene

The one thing I am real grateful for
that here in my part of Texas
really bad weather is not usually on call
at least of snow and freezing rain
and winter to us is remarkably short
and will start to warm up in about a month
and things will be growing all over again.

We need the rain Lord only knows
as we have not had any amount
of rain in a couple of years
and drought conditions persist throughout.

Wildfires will a worry be
as things continue to be dry
no burning of refuse is allowed
which means on the compost heap will I
have to stack all of the stuff
from my garden that I cut
and the compost heap already high
will then reach up to the sky.

But worry not for with the spring
the garden I will need to mulch
and with the heap that I already have
should have enough to cover all.

Trained Attack Dogs


When I was in Callahan’s on Saturday, I came across this sign and thought it would be very appropriate to put up in my yard to deter the Raccoon’s and Rats. So far, I have to report that it is not working. Not sure it’s the sign or that the critters can’t read but were working on it.

Keeping the critters out