Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Rat Run


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

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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.



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Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

6 thoughts on “Rat Run

  1. Hooray, for the long promised chicken entry! Do they have names?
    I suppose I enjoy reading about them as I have vague memories of the ones my dad keep when I was a youngster.
    We had one cat who was forever catching,and killing, rats that were nearly as big as she was. One night I garaged my car and spotted what I thought was the cat sitting on the work bench in the shadow. Wrong! It was a rat that brushed against my out stretched hand as it shot off into the night.

  2. Pigs like catching rats! I work on a city farm, we have a lovely rat run under the fence and through the pig paddock…. if the pigs see them, they don’t half move fast (both pig and rat that is!)…

  3. My auntie kept chickens for a time and i’ll never forget the time my parents came up with their wee cockapoo, Banjo, to see her.

    The dog, of course, took off after the chickens in a ball of hairy yapping – we saw it charge over the hill, all furious, and then, in a heartbeat or two, come running back in a yelping panic, ears completely pinned back.

    The hens were legging it after him, lurching along in righteous indignation and grumbling threats into their wattles.

    I suppose they thought he was a rat.

  4. Hi there We live in a small market town in Warwickshire, my friend has 6 differing varieties of ghicken includin 2 called Tikka and Masala!! they are great characters, they are in the garden along with there very stroppy pet rabbit houdini (sorry Tigger but the nick name is very apt!! ) When they go on holiday I look after them, they are lovely, luckily i have yet to encounter a rat!! and hope not to!! we do have a field mouse that pops in to the house occasionally thats enough to send me into a flap!!
    Keep warm, we had our 1st snow on Sunday!!
    Take care

  5. Yip, chickens are great characters, well ours always seem to be, they get into all sorts of mischief, I’ll do a post or two about them.
    I like the image of a rat chasing pig!,
    Oohhh flighty, its one thing a rat whizzing past the toes of my boots, another having it brush your arm.
    It has reminded me of the ‘incident’ when I was small, and living at my grandma’s house, she had an outside loo, and one night, when she was making her way down the yard, our terrier dog brushed past her legs, except my gran thought it was a rat, I think the whole of the village must have heard her screams!!

  6. Pingback: Little Fluffy Things « Uphilldowndale

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