Retirement - Oh Rats!
I’ve been looking for a rhythm to my retirement these first few months. Having spent my career in the financial world I grew accustomed to patterns and cycles where I could expect similar events to occur repeatedly. So far very few days, much less months, have been like the one before. But I did discover what seems to be a pretty annual occurrence.
I live in a rural part of the county so I am used to bears, coyotes, fox, raccoons, etc. None of them have been very obtrusive. Sure, I’ve lost a bird feeder or four. And there was that one vindictive raccoon that used the screened porch for a restroom. But none of these compare to the prolific field rats or wood rats.
I have noticed that as the weather threatens with cold temps or stormy weather, rat activity increases in proportion to the severity of the threat. The first sign something was wrong this year was a rattling in the car engine. While it was parked. And not running. Our Chihuahua heard it too but she doesn’t take her job very seriously. I popped the hood, lifted it up, and was greeted by an eight inch rat (sans tail) sitting on the engine block with a sprig of rosemary and some succulents. Obviously I had interrupted supper or its decorating of the engine compartment. Neither a marine air horn nor a leaf blower could flush it out of the deep crevices. Upon starting the engine there was a new warning light indicating something was wrong with the charging system.
The next week I took the car to the great guys at Travelers Rest Auto Repair where I sheepishly described the past weekend’s events and the fact that I had packets of rat poison clipped to the frame of the car. They just smiled. They’ve seen it before evidently. Seems the rat had chewed the wire to the alternator but the mechanic was able to rewire it and the car was safe to drive once again.
During this ordeal I discovered I had left the garage door open one night. Guess who moved in? Yep. The first visible sign was the tops of several plants had been chewed off. The next day a cotton glove appeared on the floor with only a couple fingers left on it. In the following days, three packs of poison completely disappeared so I thought for sure the rat was dead. Then I found the crank cord of the lawnmower had been chewed so that a foot length section was missing. This meant war! Six hours later my wife and I had emptied almost the entire garage before we heard a rustling sound! A chase ensued and eventually I emerged the victor! We also found the nest that was lined with poison pellets, cotton glove material, Aloe Vera, and a bank statement that was headed to the shredder anyway.
Friends have suggested getting a cat, setting traps, hiring a pest control company, etc. Thanks for the advice but those solutions don’t fit our situation right now. For now, we will put our hope in Spring-like weather and make a mental note that this cycle will repeat itself again next winter. Hey, I was looking for a retirement routine anyway.