My brother described me this week as an extra crunchy granola type. We don’t even have any granola in the house, I told him and laughed. I’m not sure why I qualify as EXTRA crunchy, though.
Our Twenty-Something nurse daughter, who happily had a much better week (because, she says, she just refused to allow another horrible one), agrees that the Bearded One and I are extra crunchy, laying the extreme crunchiness onto our removal from mainstream reality. I am curious to hear her thoughts. We are sipping coffee at the kitchen table. I’ll make breakfast soon.
“You don’t work to make money,” she says. “You don’t get out. You’re like the Amish.”
I laugh hysterically, accept my crunchiness for the incredible luck that it is (I’ve been out…), and then tell her about the really troublesome granola types around here — the rats in the chicken coop. Six huge holes, both inside and outside the covered aviary, have opened up sequentially after we blocked the first one with rocks and dirt.
A couple of weeks ago, outside the aviary, the Bearded One even tried a poison D-CON packet down a hole, something he hates to do, and it didn’t work anyway. It wasn’t even nibbled on. Why should the rats bother when we keep the ground plied with cracked corn for the chickens? A female rat can produce 12 litters of 20 baby rats a year. They grow up super fast. New holes keep coming.
“I thought rats were only in the city,” says our sweet daughter, and this astonishes the Bearded One.
He explains that rats were invented in the country, that they live in fields and hillsides and build rat cities with large and small chambers and multiple outlets and levels and even ventilation shafts. He’s seen charts. He describes seeing packs of 7 and 8 good-sized rats down in the wetlands at our old house in Suquamish.
“We haven’t actually seen a rat here,” I point out, and get up for more coffee.
“Except the ones Garfield has delivered,” says the Bearded One.
“Do you two want eggs for breakfast?” I ask. “Aren’t real granolas also supposed to be vegans?”
“Not if they raise their own hens,” says our daughter.
I pour her more coffee. “If you’ll recall,” I say, “in the children’s book Charlotte’s Web, which was set in the country, there was a rat named Templeton. He was key to the plot, rescuing Charlotte’s egg sack. I don’t hate rats. I just want them to leave.”
This week the Bearded One tried turning the water hose down each hole for a few hours, where it ran without ever overflowing the labyrinthine tunnel system under the hillside forest. We never found a single puddle. Even soggy granola rats are smart and they can work together.
The current plan is to remove both water and chicken feed from overnight access, and to smoke them out with charcoal. This means hanging one feeder high off the ground and covering the opening of the standing feeder with a plastic bag.
We’ve heard that roosters will fight rats and even kill them, and we’re also considering setting up Garfield’s carrier in the aviary overnight. He is a great hunter, but I worry he could be overwhelmed. The Bearded One says that the cat will always win this contest.
Snow is coming down again this March morning. I consider conducting a ceremony, inviting the appropriate Nature Intelligences — Devas of Rats and Chickens — and asking the rats to move on, but I don’t share this Extreme Granola idea out loud. The Bearded One will rolls his eyes so high they’ll get stuck up inside his head.
Our daughter listens to all of this rat talk as I make her very crunchy granola-ish breakfast using eggs from Kimber and Stevie and Dusty. “I wonder why Kimber’s eggs are always a bit bigger even though she’s no bigger than her daughters?” I say.
Our daughter shrugs.
The Bearded One looks over and says, “Eggsperience.”
To which our daughter says, speaking with the confidence of a nurse with a hell week behind her,”Eggzactly.”