Day 236 of 365
Today, on this last day of the year, I can’t believe I am 236 days into this project. It was so hard at first to write every day, but now it just seems like the natural thing to do–and it helps me so much. Writing our farm stories helps me remember gratefulness. I am honored to live with the animals we keep, and I am grateful for the little plot of land we borrow from the Earth.
I wanted to write something wise and magnificent, something about the magic of life on the farm and the wisdom I have gained from humbling myself in the face of that magic. Instead, I have a story about rats.
Do you remember this fall when I wrote about the cutest rat in the world who had moved into our chicken coop? Do you remember how I said we were going to pay for our decisions later? Later is now.
We are doing everything within our power to keep every speck of food clean and picked up, but these rats are smart. They have learned to live amongst the chickens. Traps do not work. The rats have made friends with the chickens. This is new. They used to stay away from chickens–and us.
Tonight, I had an encounter with an adorable rat. If it is not the rat I saw making doe eyes at me this summer, it is at least a relative. I went to get the food and water and close up the chicken coop tonight, right before sunset, and I saw it–scurrying in its unnerving way.
I screamed. A few chickens responded, but they seemed to indicate I was overreacting. So I went to the front door of the house and told Ron the rat was in the coop–and it was just looking at me. Ron said, “oh, yeah?” and went on about his day, seemingly indicating I was overreacting.
So I went back out the coop, determined to at least be scary to the rat, so it wouldn’t try to get food while I was gathering everything up.
I stomped. The rat did not move.
I banged the wall it was near. The rat just wiggled its nose (the cutest little nose ever, I might add) and looked at me.
“You are cute, but you can’t stay!” I told it. They have eaten several holes in the coop that Ron has had to repair. It didn’t budge.
So I got brave. I went over right in front of it and kicked the wall above its head. The pink nose was still there. I saw some eyes.
At this point, I was very worried about how bold this rat is. I turned around because I heard something behind me. It was just Arwen. She was sleeping on the floor tonight, which she hasn’t done in forever.
“You should get up off the floor, Arwen. We have rats right now.”
Then, from behind me, the rat ran right across the middle of coop, right past Arwen. Arwen was unfazed, as if to say, “Oh, that’s just Jerry.”
Two things are going to have to happen. I think we are going to have to get a new, special feeder for the chickens, and as soon as it’s spring time, Ron and I are going to have to re-work some of the coop. For now, I am both worried about the rats and completely impressed with their brilliance. They stash food during the day and have adapted to living like chickens.
I guess speaking of humbling myself.
Happy New Year to all of who follow this blog. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I hope you have a wonderful new year full of love and wonder and good farm food!
photo credit: Tim Zankert, Unsplash