Living here on the farm is not all mooing cows and straw hats. In fact, our place does not have a single cow or straw hat, but it is generally quiet and that’s nice. Until it isn’t.
Nature has its ups and downs and this is an up year. Our first clue would have been the owls, who have been hooting it up and hanging around since spring. That and we had plenty of moisture this year. All that adds up to lots of rats and mice. And boy howdy, do we have them.
It started when my cruise control stopped working on my truck. I told my wife about it and she was all “oh well, it’s an old truck and who uses cruise control anyway?” I gave her a long hard stare and as her usual, she did not even notice. I consider cruise control to be part of the American way of Life, not to be infringed upon. To my wife’s way of thinking, not so much. The consequences of marrying a hippy, I guess.
Since I did not get any empathy from my significant other, I went to the next best source, my mechanic. Another guy that would understand and better yet, do something about it. He told me to leave it with him for a few days and he would see what the deal was. I had several other issues that needed to be taken care of, but this cruise control thing was a line drawn in the sand.
Days later, my mechanic contacted me and said critters have been having their way with my truck. My truck was being used and abused by furry vermin. Figures, 3 years ago it was grasshoppers eating everything, but at least they left my truck alone. This was serious. He said he had to re-wire quite a few things, but now the cruise control worked, so all was well. I picked up the truck and cruised on home, letting the truck do all the work, the way it’s supposed to be.
It was about that time, we took off for a small vacation back home to Minnesota. Got to see most of the family and had a great time. Spent about 10 days gone and came back home and did not drive the truck for a few days. When I did, I noticed the truck did not like to run less than 40mph and idled fast. The cruise control still worked, so not a complete disaster, but when I got it home and popped the hood, I found more chewed wires and the start of a nest. I saw, beyond red, I saw nuclear mushroom clouds and glass parking lots and, well, I saw lots of things. I knew it was serious, because my lip started to curl, all on its own. That’s normally when the dog runs and hides.
I called my buddy the mechanic, and told him the bad news. He had counseled me earlier on how to take care of rats chewing up wires in engine compartments. He had told me to get coarse steel wool and stuff it in places that would be seen by rats. He said they would chew the steel wool and expire. When I opened my truck’s engine compartment, the first thing I saw was wads of my carefully placed steel wool being used as nesting material. I told him this and he told me that I am not dealing with normal type pack rats. I brought it to him and a couple of days later, got it back. By that time I had upped the farm’s readiness level to DEFCON 2. For all of you not up on cold war readiness levels, DEFCON 5 is Normal. DEFCON 1 Nuclear war is imminent. 2 is close to BOOM.
Told the Mrs to buy any and all types of rat poison available at Wally World. She brought home pellets and cubes. I got my hot melt gun out and glued 6 cubes in my engine compartment. Some might call that overkill, I call it just warming up. I also parked my truck in the shop and put 4 pellet packages around the truck. I then went into the house, cracked a brewsky and brooded. You do a lot of brooding at DEFCON 2.
The next morning, I saw some nibbling on my cubes and 1 packet of pellets had been messed with. No chewing on wires, and I walked out of the shop whistling a happy tune. Next day, no action, and this continued for several days, until I happened to open the wife’s engine compartment and to my horror, found chewing on the fire wall insulation and the start of a nest behind the air cleaner. I glued the rest of the poison blocks in her car and went in to order a game camera. I wanted to see how many rats and mice I was dealing with.
I had been working in the living room during this time. Due to various issues I had been dealing with, not all the floor was installed and the back wall was in the process of being repaired. So Mr Rat and buddies had also located in there. We came in to find leaves and wood shims and my gloves, and a load of other stuff bundled up under the stairs. I thought we had burned through all the last straws, but apparently, I had missed one or 2 of them and here they were.
Since our living room had been a construction zone, it has been isolated from the rest of the house. Had been for a while and would be for a bit more time, while I dealt with this.
I put a pellet package by the front door when I closed the room for the night. The next day it was empty. And the next day after that. And the next day. 3 days, 3 pellet packages, empty or gone. This was getting ridiculous. Finally the game camera came and I put it to work. The first night, the camera saw one rat, briefly. The next night, I glued a cube on the floor along with a pellet package and a nice little shooter of antifreeze, just in case Mr Rat was thirsty.
That night, nothing to be seen. I counted this as a good thing; dead rats can’t been seen cavorting around on camera, was my working theory. Both the truck and the wife’s SUV had seen no new activity.
The next night I placed the package of pellets and the cube under the floor and started the game camera. To my surprise, a rat shows up and feeds on the pellets and chews on the cube. Is this a new guy, somebody not associated with the dirty rat that stole 3 packages of pellets? Well, this dirty rat was dead by morning. Also, Sweet Pea started fussing under his dog house, so I stuck a hoe handle in there and out pops another dirty rat. Sweet Pea is on him like stink on, well, he got em quick.
And then, about midday, Ole Pea, starts yapping at some pile of tin roofing. The Mrs goes over and lifts the tin and boom, a huge dirty rat runs right into the dog’s mouth. What a dummy.
We finally have the back wall closed up, and the floor installed and a spiffy new front door hung, so we are tight as far as unwanted intrusions go.
Current score on us versus nature is:
Team Sweet Pea/Game Camera with 2 delicious flavors of rat poison: 3
Team Rat: 0
Our motto is go big and always escalate with an extra helping of scorched earth. That’s kinda wordy for a motto, but if you’re gonna go postal, you gotta do it right.