Tumbling Down The Rabbit Hole, or is it The Rat Hole?

I achieved the goal of doing the last few town errands that I wanted to do before the baby arrives. Chicken food – check. Oyster grit for the chickens – check. Light bulbs, batteries and an extra garden hose to more easily clean and fill up the chicken waterer – check. Spare keys for those helping out with responsibilities – check. At least one bag of seed potatoes – check. Now, I only want to go out if I really have to. Little Seedpod has reached new levels of feistiness, causing quite a bit of pain of various kinds and I feel like I’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole and landed on the couch. Or is it Little Seedpod who’s tumbling down the rabbit hole? We thought Little Seedpod might be on the way a couple of nights ago.

By some miraculous provision, I also managed to cut my hair last week. The long hair put up a fight but I managed to tame it down to some sense of civility. It was a relief to get it done before things went downhill.

I found myself wondering what I was getting up to at this stage of pregnancy last time and if The Little Fulla was causing me trouble. He was fidgety but evidently he washing not causing me the pain that this one is! Here’s a trip down memory lane with some blog posts from back then, just four months after we moved to our property:

For more happenings around that time, with our first hens laying and a similar home decor drive to what I’ve had this time, scroll to the bottom of the page to Monthly Archives and select August 2015.

The young chickens are growing and looking more beautiful all the time, but I haven’t been getting to spend much time with them. Sage, the blue cockerel, is so naturally friendly. He gets a good share of food when The Little Fulla decides to do some hand-feeding.

Jack of Spades, Sage and Hollyhock.

So far, two of the pullets have had bouts of broodiness already. First, there was Bluebell, Jemima’s daughter, which was surprising since Jemima is one of my non-broody hens. Then there was Hollyhock, daughter of Helen Cluck, which was not surprising given that her mum and her grandma, Frodo, are inclined towards great broodiness. What was surprising was how feisty she was when I went to get her out of the nestbox. The force with which she pecked me was on par with Morpheus! Oh dear, another feistypants. Well, maybe she’ll be a good broody mum one day. Just not right now. I can’t have broodies sitting on eggs while I’m in this state otherwise we’ll end up with unplanned feather babies!

The Husband has installed the light fitting in Little Seedpod’s room. Hooray! There’s nothing like, “The baby needs it” for some motivation to get a long-avoided task done.

The baby will have a nice light.

A few days ago The Little Fulla and I were in the Veggie Garden when we started noticing holes. There was a hole going behind the Raspberry Bed along the garage wall. There was a hole going behind the bed next to it. And there was a hole going under the gate into the currently empty Citrus Pen. As we pulled out weeds and the Little Fulla blocked off the hole under the gate with dirt, said he heard a rat. I thought his imagination was in overdrive until I heard and, more disturbingly, saw rustling under the tarp covering one bay of the compost bin.

The Veggie Garden: Not in it’s tidiest state but there is food growing in there! And apparently other living things…
The scene of the unfolding events.
Do you think the carrots might need thinning?

We quietly entered the chicken pen and shut the gate. I carefully started to pull off the tarp when I let out a little shout of surprise as a big rat shot out. I’m not one to be afraid of rodents but it was big, about 20cm (8in) long not including the tail, and it suddenly ran towards me. It ran for the hole in the gate but it was thwarted and couldn’t get out. Then commenced the dance of chasing it around the pen, behind the chick feeder box and back into its tunnel in the compost. And when I say chasing, I mean walking. Ok, waddling. I stabbed holes in the compost tunnel with a piece of timber.

The Little Fulla was sent to get Nala from the house. Nala was not impressed but perked up when she saw something scoot behind the chick feeder box and she smelt around. The rooster, Jack of Spades, was on high alert when he spotted it. I don’t want that rat anywhere near the chickens or their eggs.

The climax came when the rat was flushed out and scampered around the pen, unable to get out the gate or very far up the netting of the Veggie Garden fence. Nala, suddenly scared at the sight of the large rat was also trying to climb up the gate. Despite my protests, she hauled her old body up the gate and high-tailed it back to the house, leaving us with the rat. I was quite disgusted. If Simba was here he would have got it. I know Nala is old, but fancy being scared of a rat! The Little Fulla decided the rat was Samuel Whiskers and Nala didn’t want to be made into a roly poly pudding.

I was impressed with the tightness of most of my fencing, but the rat found a gap behind the newest section of raised beds in the corner by the lemon tree. We went around into the Veggie Garden to see if I could stab it in the gap behind the raised bed, as the neighbours’ sheep watched intently. The rat shot back out into the chicken pen and this time ran for the feijoa tree. As we came in pursuit of it it found a gap under the netting bordering the neighbours’ paddock at the back and lolloped off along the fence line into paddocks further afield. I stamped dirt along a couple of gaps but didn’t really think that would prevent it coming back. The Little Fulla wanted it to come back so we could catch it. I needed to sit down.

The rat has evidently been engaged in earthmoving behind the timber pile next to the Raspberry Bed. I put the bait station down there and The Husband, after seeing the big rat scamper through the Veggie Garden himself, set a big trap on the path on the other side of the Raspberry Bed. Let’s hope we can be rid of this foul rodent soon. It’s up to us since the cat has eliminated herself from the taskforce.

In other vegetable gardening news, the cauliflower and tatsoi seedlings have been planted in the Front Plot. I had to engage in some positive reinforcement to get The Little Fulla to help with that. I’m hoping Little Seedpod and my immune system will settle down enough that I can at least direct the planting of the other brassica seedlings. We have cabbages and broccoli still to plant. But for now, the couch is where I’m relegated to. At least I’m getting a lot of knitting done and I have a maple tree with beautiful, fiery coloured leaves to admire. I don’t know what variety it is. When I was working at a nursery in Christchurch one of my workmates potted up some seedlings that had self-sown under her maple tree and she gave one to me. It came up here with us and found its final home in the garden.

The baby wrap is growing at a much faster rate than my usual knitting pace produces. Which is probably essential if I want to finish it in time.

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