Day 148 of 365
A few days ago, Ron saw a rat run into the chicken coop right through the front door screen. I was devastated. We haven’t seen a rat in the coop for nearly a year. We have been religious about bringing in every bit of food every single night all year. Just a few weeks ago, when I was giving my talk on chickens and sustainable living, I was asked about rats. I told them we hadn’t seen any this year, that we had been diligent, and I knocked on wood. It didn’t work.
Ron hates trapping the rats. We never use poison because of course not. But they have eaten holes in the coop and done some pretty major damage, so we have used traps, the snappy-death kind. We hate all of this. I have great admiration for rats. They are wicked smart, I know, but they are too resilient, too clever, and can thrive too well on a farm very quickly. When we see rats, we know there are so many more we are not seeing. And, until yesterday, Ron was always willing to “take care” of the rats.
Yesterday, things changed.
Ron said he was putting on his boots in the garage, and he felt someone watching him. He said he had a sense it was a rat. He turned around and from the little porch from the coop, there it was–a little rat, just staring at him. Ron said he and the rat made eye contact and the rat sat there and looked at him “for a long time.” As Ron was telling me this story, my heart sank. I knew where this was going, and I knew there was going to be trouble for it.
“I can’t kill that rat,” Ron said. “We have to let it stay.”
Obviously, this was a worry to me, but things got worse. Last night, Ron told our son the story, but our son asked questions and got a little more information.
“We stared at each other a long time, and the rat asked me if it was okay to stay,” Ron told him.
“What did you say back?” our son asked.
“”I gave it permission.” Ron said.
As I listened to this story, my head dropped into my chest. What are we going to do with rats who have permission to live under the coop? What destruction is going to ensue? What kind of hypocrite am I that I don’t want the rats here but won’t deal with them myself and expect Ron to have to do it. He loves all creatures too. He doesn’t like hurting animals.
As I went to sleep last night, I was fretting about rats.
This morning, I came home from a grocery pick up, and when I got out of the car to grab the bags of groceries, I swear, I felt a stare. I looked over, and there, next to the little porch of the coop, sat the most beautiful rat I have ever seen in my life. It’s eyes are big and doe-like. I am pretty sure it has long eye lashes. Its ears are perfect. It has the cutest face I have ever seen. And that little rat just sat and stared at me. I couldn’t help myself, after a bit, I said hello to it. It didn’t budge. It just kept staring at me. It meekly scooted back under the coop when I finally went back to my task with the groceries.
I deeply understood Ron’s decision to let the rat stay.
When I came inside the house, I told Ron and our son the story of my encounter with the rat. Ron seemed pleased I understood his perspective now. Our son asked if we were being hypnotized by this rat. He was joking, but I am wondering.
At any rate, we now have the most adorable rat I have ever seen living under the coop. I have no idea how many friends and family members this little rat is fronting for, but I assure you, we are going to pay for this decision later. I have no doubt about this. But, my goodness, what choice do we have?