Sunday, August 23, 2009

What to do?

Everyone knows that I am an animal lover. Singer Karen Carpenter shares my feelings with the melodic line "Bless the beasts and the children ... in this world they have no voice ... they have no choice." 

Well, Steve (another animal lover) and I had no choice but to tackle an outdoor problem with what we suspected was a rat den next to my garden. We have seen a couple of rats in our backyard, feeding from the bird feeder and my compost pile which is ripe with rotting vegetable scraps. I thought it was kind of cute one early morning, seeing the calico colored beast jumping from the small bird bath to the large bird bath before hitting the mother lode of the bulging bird feeder. I remember telling Steve who was upstairs to "quick look out the back window at the bird feeder" thinking he would share my sentiments of the cute romp around the feeding trough. His unexpected reply was, "We need to get rid of that rat feeder!" I guess part of a husband's role in this life is to snap his gleeful wife back into a healthy reality. Darn it! I am establishing this scene because I recently shelled out about $700 of repairs to my car after finding out that vermin had been living under the hood of my car in the winter months, leaving behind spent bird food castings and apparently flossing afterwards on the thin electrical wiring that is needed to keep a 2001 Saturn station wagon in peek shape.

So, Steve removed the bird feeder which was really only half of the problem. It is summer after all and I have lots of compostable material for the rotting heap. Most of it comes from my recession garden on the side of the yard by the driveway (out of Winston's reach – I have seen Winston, our yellow lab, pull a green pepper off the plant and devour it). 

Recently, before leaving for work in the mornings, I started seeing the making of a small hole next to the basil and green bean plants. I didn't think anything about it until it got to the point where something was moving straw from the garden to cover the now rather large opening and then the sight of the "do not disturb" sign was a dead give away that something was taking advantage of a good situation and thumbing their long whiskered noses at us. The nerve of some varmints!

So, what is an animal lover to do? We thought about trapping the thing and releasing it at a nearby nature preserve or hope that one of the cats that roam the neighborhood would take care of the situation, leaving us with a clear conscious. Steve stepped up and said that we should just get some rat poison and be done with it. Images of Templeton from "Charlotte's Web" popped in my mind. Couldn't we just have an outdoor pet rat? Then I thought about the assault my car had withstood and it was pretty much decided what we had to do. The image of Templeton was quickly replaced with an open purse with the wind carrying away my hard earned dollar bills from what can be a stressful job. Lots of dollar bills. The sequence of the cash fluttering away seemed to go on for a very long time before I snapped out of the vision.

As I write this, one gray mouse has been buried and another is still taking the bait Steve is leaving at the entrance of the hole. An ugly ending for two big hearted animal lovers who would rather be putting their money toward the good life instead of the nearest Saturn dealership.


Jeff Branch said...

Jane, I share your pain. I have many such holes in my yard! I have well documented the vole damage to my hostas and I will forever plant future hostas with wire mesh to protect the roots. I have chipmonks and otherwise I am not sure what else subterrianian varments I have. I have resorted to mole bait this year, with some success I think.

Jane Bell said...

As of this afternoon the tally has climbed ... two dead mice and another (others ? ) still taking the bait. I'm wondering how many are in there!

Amy L said...

Jane, you amaze me! First with your killer writing on this post and secondly with your heart for animals. My only problem with dead rats is that I would not want to be the one disposing of them. Matt and I got quite a chuckle out of all of this!