Posted by: kathandroger | January 23, 2017

Arctic Rat Attack.

We are in the middle of a long dry cold and frosty spell. It is all good for the garden, and for the farmers who have done all their ploughing; lots of nasty bugs will die and the crops should benefit. Not so convenient for our garden though, as it is completely impossible to dig the parsnips and leeks, but luckily we have lots of stuff in the freezer. The early mornings have been beautiful, with a deep red sun rising over the frosty countryside. The fishpond has frozen but luckily the pump is still working and keeping a small area of the surface still liquid.

img_3649The level of water should be much higher on the mill stone, but my rebuild of the pond lacked waterproofing skills, and it leaks!img_3644We have bought some waterproofing paint and I will get on with the repairs when the weather is a bit warmer.

I looked out of our window after getting up a few days ago to see a strange frozen lump in the orchard. To our dismay it was Kaths’ favourite chicken, the cous nou we called “the turkey” because of her bare neck and great size. She was very dead, frozen, and had most of her insides eaten.img_3650I opened the chicken house to find it empty! We had come back late the previous evening, and I had shut the house door not thinking to check inside. Our automatic door had not been working for some days so it was back to manual mode. The rats had been around even though the house was moved every day or two, and they had dug a small hole to get inside. My traps and poison had been ignored. Eventually we found four remaining birds from our original half dozen, the other missing one being the only layer, Sweep. She was the youngest and by far the most lively and we think she had been traumatised with the others and flown over the wall and away. We lost another chicken to the Badger a couple of months ago, but he has not been into the orchard since the pee pots have been in place, and there is no way this was a fox attack as the other birds were not killed and there were not many feathers about. It can only have been a rat attack, and on reading about it they are known to attack chickens in time of great hunger, and kill by biting the neck. Our guess is that a pack of rats got in through the open door, the chickens panicked and the turkey was caught, killed, and largely eaten. The other chicks had spent the night in the open but had survived. We shall buy some more in the spring, and I have reinforced the chicken house with metal, we have bought new traps, and placed more poison for the rats. Over the years I have lost chickens to the fox, the mink, the badger and now  Ratty. Needless to say there has been no sign of rats since the new measures were taken!

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