Well the ongoing story of the rats is…ongoing! My brother-in-law Amer set some cage traps for them and it caught one. The rats, having lost their source of hens eggs when we moved the hens, began to eat the pigeon eggs next door! My mother-in-law was not impressed, to say the least!
Omar brought the rat upstairs to show me. It was much smaller than I expected. I remember the rats from my childhood in Graiguenamanagh, Ireland.
We lived in the Step House, (so-named because we had six steps leading up to the door) beside the turf market, which in my childhood in the 60’s still had its water-pump for those who still didn’t have running water! Our house was right beside the Duiske River which runs into the barrow. Our kitchen was built out over the river so we could see all the wild herons and cranes who came here to eat. The Duiske ran along the back of the main street and there were three butchers on that side. The way that they dealt with offal in those days was to throw it in the river, so would see large lumps of fat and swollen offal getting stuck on the rocks and over-hanging trees as it floated downstream.
The cranes weren’t the only things that liked the offal however. There were huge river rats, well-fed as you can imagine, who also loved the discarded fat!! Our backyard wall was the wall of the river and we had a little wooden door which opened up to a platform beside the river. As kids we played there a lot as the river was not very deep. But, on occasion, the river rats would come into our garden and to my mind they were huge! My mother would scream at us to come upstairs and would then call my father, from our factory where he worked as manager, and tell him to come home!!! While waiting for him to come we would watch the large rats in the backyard from the safety of our kitchen window. I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about!!! It was only a rat! My father would then arrive and get his shotgun and bang went the rats! I felt it was rather sad for the rats as they weren’t doing any harm!!
Our little rat, terrified in his cage, evoked the same feelings. I didn’t like the way he was eating our eggs, although I was not sure that he was the culprit while the chucks were in the big hen house, because there was never any left-over shell, so I doubted whether it was the rats taking them!! Pigeon eggs are very much smaller and they didn’t take them away but ate the contents and left the empty shell behind!! The poor rat, although a nuisance, still had the right to feed itself. But this rat was going to be drowned…in the cage. Oh God…another emotional/ethical dilemma.
Omar took the cage out onto the balcony, filled a bucket with water, and immersed the cage, with the rat in it, into the water. Oh my good God! Even the thought of the poor rat…
He called me from the balcony to come and see. REALLY??? ‘No thanks’ I yelled back from the kitchen. ‘Think I’ll give it a miss this time’ ,I muttered to myself!!! I couldn’t believe he actually wanted me to witness it!!! Although I could understand the interest! I used to feel the same way while dissecting fish-eyes when my father was gutting salmon!!!
So the rat was ‘dispatched’. And everything was fine for a couple of days! THEN we were told by Omar’s brother that he had seen a big cat jump into the chicken house and take away an egg!!! Three times!!!! So we have had to dismantle the chicken house and put wire above it to stop him from getting in. The amount of stray cats here is a nightmare!!!
Where is the pied piper when you need him!!!