What else can go wrong?

RatsA few days after losing Doug, family and neighbors were sitting on the porch talking. I saw a red fox run across the road by the sunken garden. I said out loud "Hey look at that gorgeous fox!" Then I noticed the direction it was headed - straight towards our free ranging ducks.

Turns out the fox had gotten two already. It was coming back for more. Of course, the fox took the egg laying females and left the males, which are pretty useless. They don't even help protect the females - they just fly off. The female's butts are loaded with eggs so they can't get airborne.

Our goat, Butter, usually protects the ducks, as they all hang together. But during mating season, the testosterone-laden male ducks get pugnacious, and our 9 ducks split into two posses. The unguarded posse got preyed on.

With the help of our neighbors, I immediately put the goat and ducks on lock down. (It is much harder to herd the ducks without Doug. One of the many many many things I miss about having him here.)

That meant leaving chow in the pen. A few days later I was changing out the duck's skank water (they spit mud into it). I spied a creepy pencil-thin tail sliding into the rock wall! I forgot that the accumulation of food in one place attracts RATS. UGH!

I'm not squeamish, but rats are disgusting. Plus they are SO not sanitary. Rats even freaked Doug out. Years ago we saw one run under our stone porch step. Doug ran inside and got my pellet rifle and jammed it under the step (breaking off the scope in the process). He fired off a lot of rounds, ala The Good The Bad and the Ugly, although it was probably long gone by then.

Rats (and mice) are actually pretty common around farms. That is why many farmers have barn cats. Tenzing is an exclusively indoor cat, and wouldn't go near rodents this gargantuan.

I put out mambo snap traps right away. I caught two gigantic rodents (see photo). I didn't catch any more, so I applied "better living through chemistry." I put out bait in special goat and duck-proof plastic rat bait stations to hopefully exterminate the rest.

The fun never ends. I'm so tired of Death in the Valley.



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