Monday, 5 November 2012

Rats, cows, vinegar, bicarb, & mud

So Lester was up late last night. Having had a nap in the afternoon his need to go to bed was delayed. Mine wasn't. It was all that to-ing and fro-ing I had been doing as I tried to get some order into our home. Anyway, I was in bed, with the electric blanket set to four, yes four, because I felt the need to be cuddled up and warm, at ten. 

The house was quiet. Skippy skippy hoodahs started as one, two, three rats came into the house via the ring beam on top of the walls, joined also by one single mouse at floor level. It is not a pleasant experience to hear rats above one's head. Lester was most upset this morning when he was telling me this. He has fought the fight, has Lester. During our first winter in the house, which was two years ago, there were loads of rats running along the tops of the walls. I think it must been an ancient highway for them, like the M25. And like that monster of a motorway, round and round the rats used to chase, like I used to do when driving along the M25 back in the time when I lived in the UK. 

So I held the ladder for Lester as he clambered up it to lay poison, yes poison, along that ratty M25 highway on top of those walls. No use laying traps because the rats are not daft and avoid those traps. We know because we tried using them. Didn't catch one single rat. But the poison did. Job done. For a while. Intermittently we still have rats coming in, but normally singly, not it a gang. As I am sitting writing this blog there is movement in the house. I keep stamping my feet to keep them away from me. I don't think I shall be writing for much longer. I think I need to go join Lester, who has gone to bed early, in the Half Barn, which is rat free but not mice free. But it is one mouse less because we trapped one yesterday. We do lay mice traps. We can catch mice in traps. Bit of bread seems to do the trick. 

'Vvvvveeeeerrrraaaa!" yelled Hubs / Head Cowman / Head Shepherd. I was with my extended roller, waving in the general direction of the ceiling hoping that the paint would not drip into my eyes again. Down came the roller. When Hubs yells, it is best I obey toute suite. 

Ah, Elise again. There she was, standing in the drive, defying Hubs to get anywhere near her. Well at least the sheep and goats were in the Sheep Paddock, I thought.  
"Go and get me some grain will you", yelled Hubs, "She won't come near me....."
Obeying these instructions, off I went. Only Elise had eyeballed me and I had eyeballed her back, and I think that she remembered our set-to last week, when Hubs was in Paris and her and I had a ding dong of a battle and I won because I left her out in the field all night. Because as soon as I was out of sight she charged flat out across the drive, on into the door of the Tall Barn, and then into her enclosure. Lester said that he had never seen a cow charge like that. He said that he thought that she was running away. He said that he was worried in case she was leaving home for good. I think it was because she saw me. I think that she knew that she could mess about with Lester, but that when I turned up she thought 'Oh crikey, don't want to mess with her, best get to bed before I end up in that field for the night again'.

One of my tasks today was attack the gunk on the cooker. It is a donated cooker. It is an old cooker. It is devilishly difficult to clean because the surface seems to like absorb muckiness effortlessly easily. This condition is not helped by the twice a day pot boil of pig food, which almost always overflows, turning the soggy, pulpy, grain into baked on gunge. 

Normally vinegar works. Didn't seem to today. But I found a miracle product. Bicarbonate of soda. I keep it for our tummies, and the sheep's tummies, and for baking if the recipe requires a spoonful. But oh what a miracle. It cut through the gunk in no time. And the marvelous fizz that happened when I added some splashes of vinegar to it was quite fun to behold. Didn't add too much vinegar though. Didn't want to blow us all up. 

I had another jolly bit of fun later on. Rained yesterday so sheep and goats in the Sheep Barn for most of the day, so the harvest of sheep and goat poo left on the floor needed to be picked up. But first, the slosh through the muddy muck in front of the barn had to be done. Squelch, squelch, slurp. It was a mighty sticky mess of a muck. But job done. Two buckets of poo picked up. 

Then it came into my mind to see if I could do something about the numerous little puddles which made up the mucky mud. So I joined them up to make little streams. Then as they started flowing, I joined those stream to make a little river. To make sure the water kept on the move I used my hoe. It was fun. Instead of little puddles I have one bit puddle. Ah well, I tried to improve matters. 

Oops, things quieted down for a while, but now I hear movement in the house. It is not the dogs. It is not Lester. It is not me because I am sitting at my PC talking to you. 

I am going to bed. Quickly. 

Photo for Diane, who wants to buy Bicarb here in France. 

It is the morning of the next day. I have found one deceased rat, frizzled away to just a mound of flattened fur, in the bottom of one my boxes which was in the temporary kitchen I have just moved out of. As I moved with speed to join Lester in bed last night a rat raced across the floor of that temporary kitchen, not by my feet though, several metres away. It did not stop me from doing a squeal and running as fast as I could. I think I could have almost matched the speed at which the rat was running. I guess that we were both upset by being in the relatively close proximity of each other. 


Horst in Edmonton said...

Oh my, I so do hate mice and rats. Here in Alberta, Canada we are so far rat free, although we had a small infestation last summer that was taken care of by our rat patrol. They worked very hard to get every single rat. We had a problem with mice when I lived on the farm but the cats got a lot of them. I didn't like to use poison because it is so hard to keep away from other animals. Anyway, I hope you can get rid of all the rats and mice. Have a great week.

Zimbabwe said...

We often have the odd mouse around in the barn, and thankfully in all the years we have now been here I have only seen one rat and that was a dead one, not sure how he got in that state but it was the best one! We also find the traps and a bit of bread works well with the mice.

As for bicarb, where do you get it from? I brought some back from the UK but I have never seen it here for sale.

Keep well and hope you have sorted out the pitter patter of those very small feet :-) Diane

Vera said...

Horst, they don't have French 'rat patrols' here, not in our area anyway, but maybe in the towns they do. I agree about the risk of using poison, which is why we don't use it outside in case the dogs or chickens use it. We thought about a cat, but I don't like the way they jump all over the furniture. Ah well, rats and mice are all part of countryside life!

Diane, you can find bicarb in the supermarket, Intermarche being our local one. It is it the spices section, sitting alongside various brands of salt. It is called Bicarbonate de sodium alimentaire. I have posted a picture up at the bottom of the blog for you. It cost just under 2 euros for 400g. Could do with buying it in bulk though, because the sheep are addicted to it!

rusty duck said...

Mike has found an electronic (battery) mouse 'zapper'. Rat versions also available. It is supposed to be humane as it despatches instantly. And no need to use poison. Try Amazon?

I have still to agree, but my problem is not yet as desperate..

Vera said...

Jessica, thank you for the info. Had a look on Amazon and saw this product but do not think it applicable to our situation seeing as how we would have to buy several units to cope with the amount of rats and mice we have here, and experience has taught us that all animals are intelligent, and that includes rats and mice, and that after a few of their clan members met their electified end, that they would learn to avoid the unit, never to enter it again!

ally said...

just to say love your blog! I read it every day and look forward to all your chat! Living in North Yorkshire but hoping to retire to our Normandy country cottage and keep more animals than the pony, chickens and dog I have at the moment. Please keep sharing all your news. Take care and be happy!

Vera said...

Hello Ally, Thanks for visiting, and I do so hope that you will enjoy living life on a smallholding in France. It's hard work but a fabulously busy, energetic, and fulfilling way to spend one's days. I bet the time for you to move to Normandy can't come quick enough!

DUTA said...

Bicarbonate and white synthetic vinegar have many household uses, and I always keep them in the house.

If you need something stronger, there's a cleaning powder detergent available at the store.

Mice and rats should be fought against fiercely as they tend to spread around diseases.

Vera said...

Duta, oh so you, too, use vinegar and bicarb! Wish they would work on the rats and mice!

John Gray said...

you are a stronger character than I would ever be..... the thought of arat in the house, that has ot been killed gives me the shivers!

Vera said...

John, after your battle with the rat in the loo it is hardly any wonder that they give you the shivers! One ran over Lester's foot the other night. I don't think he was impressed with that experience at all!

malissataylor said...

It's time to cat a cat, no?

Vera said...

Hello Malissa, hope you are all well. No, I do not think we shall be getting a cat! Don't like the thought of them jumping up on the tables and chairs!