A close encounter with a rat this morning, I am not sure who was more surprised, me the chickens or the rat!
I’ve been meaning to tell you a little about our hens for weeks now, the post just never seems to write its self, so let me introduce the girls
They ( six in total) live in an ‘ark’ a type of hen run,
most of the time they are free range, going wherever they fancy, but always turning up at dusk back at the hen house,to roost for the night. We lock the run up at night to stop any passing fox killing them. The ark also means we can keep them contained if we want to (and some days you do just want them from under your feet) but they can still scrat around at the grass in the ark.
This morning I moved the ark, to some fresh grass, it is a bit on the heavy side to do on my own, but I can manage it by using a piece of scaffolding pipe as a roller, or by wriggling each end a few inches at a time, today I chose the latter method. I had just lifted the roost box end up a couple of inches off the ground, when a rat shot out from underneath , rats move bloody fast, and in true ‘rat run’ style it made directly for the nearest cover, it ‘bowled a strike’ as it shot through the cluster of hens, who were just tucking into some grain, sending them squawking and flapping in all directions, feathers flying, before disappearing under the cattle trough.
I am not squeamish about rats, I know most of us live much closer to them than we would like to think; and where you have livestock, or more importantly, foodstuffs for livestock, rats will seek out a free meal. I just wish they wouldn’t take me by surprise like that!
The cats are obviously slacking in their rat catching duties, I think we will have to put some poison down for them,(the rats not the cats!!) before they, well, breed like rats.
Only once have we ever had a major problem with rats and that was when a nearby barn was emptied of decades worth of junk, before the builders moved in to convert it into a house, so the rats moved house, down into our barn. On that occasion we got the local council
‘rat man’ , sorry ‘pest control officer’ in to help, he said our ‘rat runs’ were ‘the best he had seen in a long time’ makes your heart swell with pride doesn’t it!!!
When I was a kid and we lived on a farm, my brother would lie in the barn, hiding under an old corn sack, spade in hand waiting for the rats to appear, before belting them on the head with the afore mentioned spade. I think we will stick to the poison, it’s probably more humane.