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Rats Under the House
Life for some is a real struggle. Most people in the west are fortunate to be spared the difficulties of poverty. Poverty is though an imbedded part of every society, even in the US. Just recently we saw during Hurricane Katrina the body of poverty rise up and walk right into the media and show us all it has an ugly face and that it lives right in the midst of one of the richest countries in the world.
When I was young my family was self sufficient in most every way. My father taught me to work and to not depend on anyone unless it was just so far beyond my abilities that I had to go to someone else to do the task. Why, because we just didn’t have the money to pay someone to do it and of course pride.
We were on the edge of poverty and this is a story about it, yes there were rats under the house. I remember them vividly and how they managed to come inside chewing through floor around the pipes that came up into the kitchen.
Once one made it’s way into my mothers bedroom while she was asleep. It was like a scene from a movie at first I laughed at her up on the top of the headboard screaming for my father to come and save her from the rat. But then I saw as I started to help him that the rat was really vicious and was attacking him as he tried to hit it with a boom handle and that it was a serious business dealing with one of those creatures.
As we fought off the rat it seemed that it would surely bite one of us until it became entangled in the coil springs under the mattress. He finally killed it but the whole experience made me realize just what a terrible situation we were in and something had to be done about it. I set about the next day declaring war on the rats.
They lived on a hill side which was covered with honeysuckle not fifty feet out the back door of the house. There were so many that they had runs all throughout the neighbourhood. You could see them moving around on the hillside day and night. At the time the place where we lived was poorly drained so there was lots of standing grey water and our immediate neighbour had a collard green patch that kept them fed when nothing else was around to eat.
Trash was usually emptied into old 55gal oil drums and either hauled off to the dump or burned out until they basically rusted away. About once every four or five months they would eventually have to be loaded into a truck since they just became a mess of burn garbage and rusty old cans.
There was always something for them to get into but the house was a place none should ever have been able to enter. But, they did come in and my father had taught me well to be self sufficient and I set about making sure this didn’t ever happen again. He didn’t have to tell me I just took it upon myself to do it on my own. I was eleven at the time.
Now these rats were what people called Warf Rats they were big some as much as a kilo and one that I caught weighed three and a half pounds. People had a lot of respect for them especially their viciousness that’s why they got away with living around us like they did; that and the fact that they multiplied so fast and embedded themselves deep into the holes on the hillside.
I thought about what I was going to do and asked my father, uncles and grandpa for advice. My grandfather had a group of fishing lakes as I have told you all in a few of my previous postings. In that lake he had muskrats and kept them clear of the lake with spring type traps and of course he was more than willing to help with those. These are the kinds that are basically circular with a trip in the center. You have to step on the spring to set the trap.
Dad, suggested that I cut tin sheeting and seal the holes in the floor that the rats had chewed through. These rats were so bad that they had actually chewed a hole through the front of one of the kitchen drawers. I did that first; took tin snips and cut the sheeting that old Mr. Thurmond gave me. He ran sort of a country store, car lot and garage just down the way. Once that was done I set several big traps in the runs just like Grandpa had told me to do.
For under the house my Dad provided me with the old Victor Snap Traps the big ones most of you know the kind. The ones that are usually set with cheese in the Tom and Jerry cartoon you see as a kid. I hated crawling under the house but it had to be done and while I was there I made sure that all the holes around the foundation was sealed up with rocks, bricks, pieces of tin or wood.
It didn’t take long before I started to catch them at first it was the traps set with food under the house. They were very smart though and with the traps and sealing up the house they quit coming around the house. I burned the garbage regularly and reminded Dad to haul it off regularly. The Musk Rat traps in the runs caught the biggest ones.
But, only two of the fattest were caught in those traps I don’t know if it was because they were dumb or just to lazy and fat to go around them. Mr. Thurmond gave me a Moon Pie and RC cola for catching the biggest one which you know I paraded around the neighbourhood as it was a fairly unusual size and at that point I had become a real hunter and sort of a neighbourhood hero for getting rid of as many as I did.
The next thing was to tackle where they lived and I had to ask around for professional advice on this one. An old black man down the road from where we lived told me to use water and fill up all the holes. This worked at first but they just came back when the holes dried out. Poison was the last resort because they just avoided it and if one did eat the poison it usually died and stunk to high heaven. Lost all the respect I had gained as the great rat hunter when they crawled up under and smelled up the neighbors house.
What did work though was everyone began to see that it really was a problem and that we had to work together. They saw my efforts what I had done and it wasn’t more than a month that the garbage was hauled off, houses were sealed up, traps were set everywhere and the hill side came under regular and persistent attack from the people that were being terrorized not a month before by this nasty little vermin. We actually did have a little war and we eventually won.
I certainly can understand not only just from this little experience with rats how difficult life is for the those who are living in poverty. Just take a moment and think about what it would be like having this kind of thing as a normal part of your life.
So you see why I like Cats
now tell me where were you when I needed you most and wrote this post [post 82015]? |
Now I understand why you do like so many cats
1/29/2008 1:46 am
Lovely story beautifully told - again. |
There are parts of the world where the rats....are on the menu. Their poverty is so bad that rats are a source of protein. Apparantly one of the sure signs of extreme poverty (usually during severe drought) is the absence of rats. But then there is also the absence of hope in this case.
Just popping off to go count my blessings...again!
1/28/2008 10:05 pm
LOL,my daughter dashed to the vet the other week with her dying rat..red lights flashing all the way and my getting a running commentary via the phone.She almost broke her heart as the rat took its last breath as she entered surgery......what a contrast in the two worlds...yes, i still love your cats ....|
Remember..live each day as it comes..it may be your last!!!xx " NAMASTE"
your family must have been very proud of their little rat catcher.|
wonderful story thanks for sharing
thanks for reading and as per Dave Allen "May your God go with you"
Rats, jeees Mirim, Aftere all you have beent hrough and it's rats, guess they just take on a different shape or form then..|
Stay safe ok.
Melt. Flow. Evaporate into the bright sky