One week after the demise of Mr Fattypants, the horrible rat, I went out to open the garage and noticed something weird. Outside the rat tunnel under the Raspberry Bed there was what looked like a dead mouse, but on closer inspection it was a dead baby rat. I just stared at it for a bit until the pieces of the puzzle fell into place in a surprising plot twist. It wasn’t Mr Fattypants, it was Mrs Fattypants! That jolly rat must have had a nest of babies under there! The baby was only about the size of a mouse, with a proportionately bigger head. According to Mr Googlepants it would have still been feeding on milk from its mother, so it and any others would not be able to survive by themselves.
I feel slightly bad that I caused a nest of babies to starve to death. But I had no idea they existed. However, the feeling of relief that they are dead and hadn’t yet gotten old enough to fend for themselves and carry on destroying our stuff is overpowering the other feeling.
Now it made more sense why
Mr Mrs Fattypants was so insane: she had babies to feed. She was trying to get back to her babies. I trapped a lactating mama rat in the garage. Oops! This is one of those times when you can learn from my mistakes. Do not shut a rat in your garage. Or anywhere else important. Especially if you are unsure of its gender.
The weather turned cooperative, with some fantastic sunshine, so while I could I started pruning the old pear tree down the back. It is so much easier to do with the battery pole pruner. I can prune off a range of branch sizes and also cut them up for firewood on the spot or as I cut them off the tree. I am trying to take the pear tree from having three main leaders (trunks) to one central leader, with side branches coming off it. It also needed lowering as many of the pears were too high to reach, even with a long-handled fruit picker. Most of the branches are old and lichen-covered so it needs some good new growth too. This is not the optimum time for pruning and I’m not going to hard prune it all at once. It was hard work reaching the high branches but the combination of the battery pole pruner, the telescopic pruning saw and the ladder made it possible. The pear branches are like claws so every single branch but one got stuck in other branches on the way down, again and again. It’s a tricky old tree. I have cut off one of the three leaders that was growing over the fence, taken off some of the height and thinned the high branches. In autumn, after it has fruited, I will prune off some more.
The kereru (New Zealand pigeons) have been sitting in the top branches of our plum tree, eating off flowers and leaves. I don’t like to bother them since they are so big and beautiful, but we do want lots of plums so I’ve been waving them off when I see them in there. They can strip the branches pretty easily. There are bigger neighbouring plum trees that I have seen them in so they have plenty of options.
I got a few more seeds sowed this week: parsley and some flowers. Flowers usually don’t take priority because I think I’ll get the more important veggies done first and then I run out of motivation or space to do flowers. Not this year. I want pretty things in the veggie garden too and the pollinators need feeding. I have sown some salvia, nasturtium and Nemophila Penny Black.
The second batch of eggs have been candled. We didn’t get another perfect start this time. One of Judith’s eggs was infertile and one of Trillium’s. All of Ninja’s were also infertile. There were no early deaths though, so that is good. Now there are 26 eggs in the incubator again. Is Ninja avoiding the rooster again? That happened for about a week last year. I don’t know if I’m going to get any good offspring out of her anyway as her colour is just so light. One of her four-week-old chicks is proving to be difficult. It is a cockerel and he keeps pecking at me or the container when I go to put food in there. Just as well he’s one of Ninja’s boys as he was destined for the chopping block anyway. I’m only interested in her daughters. The chicks will be moving outside into the Henley Hut some time this week, so until then I will have to keep protecting my hand from the pecky little dude.