January 24th, 2005



Literal rats, not figurative. There's a reason why Ming gets so many. Our neighborhood seems to be undergoing a plague of rats. I was talking to my neighbor, and we're innundated with rats! They're so bold that they've been known to run across her cat while he's sunning himself on the fence.

This seems to be what's been barking my tree. She's been out on her balcony at night, and sees the rats in the trees. They've completely stripped one large branch, eating inner bark, and the branch looks like it was chisel-sculpted. Well, I was talking about taking out some of the big branches that were shading the driveway, anyway... However, the damage to the tree is starting to get substantial. Then I was in the garage and found they're eating cardboard boxes. I had some old boxes full of kitchen stuff (not food, just things like canning jars, etc.), and they were gnawing holes in them. That's when I realized I had to do something.

So I got a new metabolic rat poison, over at Orchard Supply. It's stunningly expensive, but it smells delicious, and it's geared to shutting down certain rodent metabolic pathways so that they gradually decline and die. Says it's safe around kids and pets (provided they're not rodents) and won't cause secondary poisoning if, say, your cat eats a dying mouse. Says that it also doesn't cause bait aversion, as it works so gradually the rats don't associate it with the yummy kibbles they're eating. It's certainly attractive, because I caught Hobbes trying to pick up and eat a pellet that had fallen out of the tray I put in the rose jungle. "Hey! You spit that out right now!" (No, I don't fully trust that it has no effect on cats. But it certainly says something about why I don't want to put out conventional poison.) I'm supposed to start seeing results in around a week. Hopefully, with yummy rat chow out as an alternative, my tree will survive that long. And it will take down the population before they get so out of hand that they try to invade the house, cats or no.
  • Current Mood
    devious devious
Dancing Thru

Gardening time!

The growing things have shut down well enough for the winter that I limbered up my chain saw, over the weekend. Took down some big branches, but I still need to do some serious trimming. A nice side effect is that I will have lots of firewood to take to living history events, camping, etc. The big branch, which has been stripped by the rats, will also furnish the fires, once it has a bit of season on it. Did serious pruning on the apple trees and roses, as well. But I still have to do something about the "jungle" on the side of the house, especially since it's so fascinating to Circe at night. I suspect there are rats running through the rose canes. (Banksia roses can throw 15-foot canes in a single season. Add in the jasmine vines, and it really is a jungle.)

I weed-whacked what wasn't a tree or shrub, including the giant bed or oregano (winter haircut!), and pulled out a lot of weeds by hand. Hmm, there are actually irises down under the matts of grass. I really need to dig and reset them before spring starts them growing. And dig out all the diseased roses, like the General Kliber moss rose, which has had maybe five blossoms in all its history, but is a host for every fungus on earth, and similarily dispatch the roses that have reverted to rootstock. (Dr. Huey is pretty, but I'd rather have a rose I intended to plant, thanks.)

I put some potato cuttings into boxes out by the compost pile, in hopes of new potatos in Dutch Yellow, Allblue, and Russian Banana. I was very annoyed that the rats had apparently stolen the Russian Banana sets that I had carefully placed in a container of damp earth in the toolshed. All I had for replenishing those was a single set that had escaped harvest, and magically appeared out of a pot of soil I was using to top up a planter I'd seeded with lettuce and turnips, after harvesting the last of the beets for Saturday dinner.
  • Current Mood
    accomplished accomplished