The Rats (Not Of Nimh)

Lately I’ve talked a lot about blackberries. (Probably other people are hoping that I’ll stop that.) That’s because, during the season, they are a constant, ever-present force in our lives, continually luring us out to bushes with the promise of more sweet fragrant fruit. Just a few more pounds, they whisper. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little more, just in case? Probably this is not an early sign of insanity.

However, other bits of life do occasionally intrude. Our most exciting episode recently was with the rats. So let me give some backstory: when we first bought the house, about three years ago, we knew that there were issues with holes in the vent screens under the house. It was fairly obvious since the previous owner’s cat had secreted herself under the house via one of these holes, and it took us multiple days to finally lure her out and trap her. But we slapped an extremely poor fix on the holes (mostly blocking them up with bricks) and otherwise failed to do anything about it.

Fast-forward two and a half years. We discovered that rats had taken up residence out under our compost bins, making themselves nicely at home with lots of tunnels, and no doubt feeding on the tasty fresh veggies and fruit thrown out every day. So Dave went to work trapping them, and caught several.

Then one night I was sitting in my sewing room, trying to meditate, and I heard a distinctive “scritch-scritch-scritch” from under the floor.

Now, rats in the compost bin are not great. Rats under (or in!) the house? Extremely not ok. Dave spotted one running around the corner of a kitchen cabinet, and went into high-powered protect-the-house trap-the-rats mode. Plans were laid, traps were carefully positioned, peanut butter was put on display to tempt their little rat appetites. After a few days without trapping a single one, though, he also slipped some rat poison down into our crawl space.

Well, apparently the latter worked, because a couple days later a Smell began to develop in our sun room. The capitalization is not accidental. This was a Smell with an almost palpable presence. Initially it was unpleasant. Then it began to grow. Before long the Smell was not something that could be ignored.

The sun room “crawl space” is only about eight inches high, so a search and destroy mission was impossible even if someone had been able to work up the stomach for it. The thing generating the Smell had crawled into the very back of the house, farthest from any possible human reach. Fortunately Dave investigated our other house vents, and discovered that many of them were closed. Opening them helped a lot. So did the box fan that he rigged up outside the vent closest to the Smell. By keeping the house as open as possible, we managed to live through the Smell, although the idea of taking a two-week vacation was definitely floated.

Needless to say, Dave went to work on fixing up our house vents soon thereafter. We now boast a complete set of patched and reinforced vent screens which should admit nothing larger than a petite fly.

We hope.

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