In a small and muddled garden. Dorset. England. Thoughts about gardening and thoughts while gardening. Housework, politics and book reviews too. Esther Montgomery.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

GETTING RID OF THE RAT


My mind is elsewhere so here's a collection of odds and bods to stick in my internet memory. That way, when I look back, I'll know where I was when I wasn't looking.

In the middle of July, a rat got into the kitchen. That was an event. It scared the cats so much the tabby spent all day in the garden, and the tortoiseshell behind a desk.  Indeed, I might never have known a rat was there if the cats hadn't fought noisily over who'd be the first to escape. The rat paused (four inches plus tail) half way up a pipe leading between the sink and the water boiler, as much bemused by this un-feline flight as I was. Then it disappeared.

We spent the rest of the day emptying cupboards - a sort of scorched earth policy, hoping eventually to leave it with no hiding place, sorting through out-of-date packets and re-washing all the cake tins as we went. Every so often it made a dare-devil appearance, running across work surfaces or popping up behind the bread bin where we keep pasta and rice until, late in the afternoon it gave up and moved out. Rats don't like noise - and it was only a young one, not yet used to the chaos of rat-induced-anxiety in humans, and the whole Montgomery family running up and down shouting 'there's a rat in the kitchen' proved too much for its delicate rat-sensibilities and I found it dead but un-marked on the path a couple of mornings later. All the clattering and banging as we shifted saucepans and soup-plates, re-stacked pyrex bowls and the ripple of metal as I tipped out a shoe box full of old silver forks which turned up behind a broken fan heater had done for it. It nearly did for me too!

What else?

It took three days, on and off, to dig up the Madame Alfred Carriere rose. It's too big and floppy for here; lovely when presenting its big blooms to nod at the bedroom window but easily brought to earth in a wind. A neighbour said she'd like to grow it up a trellis on the front of her house. Then she decided to move across town instead - so I put the reduced rose (with roots trimmed) back into its hole and now wonder how I'll find someone to want it. So far, it doesn't seem too stressed. I am.

The Rambling Rector is going too. And the Madeleine d'Angevine vine. (I'm keeping the Black Hamburg.) Everyone's glad I'm de-nuding the garden - except me. I like having to force the gate open against branches. I like to pretend I'm pressing through a jungle. Others say they'd rather walk up the path without being scratched (and dripped on when it's raining). They win. Everything is much lighter already. That much is good but I don't like seeing other people's houses beyond the wall. I'd much rather see leaves.

What else? I've been watching seeds as they form on plants. Soon, I'll put photos on the other blog.

Oh, and sad news. We are giving up the allotment.

Remember the Christmas Tree fiasco? When Ming hurt his back because he insisted (gallantly) on moving it? Well, that tree did for his digging and bending and . . . and now he has inflamed tendons in his shoulder too. In many ways, some of them quite profound, it's a bereavement. On the other, it's liberation. There will be more time for doing other things and holidays will be less of a worry. It's bad enough finding someone to feed the cats without having to worry about tomatoes too. 

I've been weeding; another sad process . . . saying good-bye to willow herb and nettles, cinque-foile and mare's tails. But self seeders need space. I've been shaking aquilegia heads round the beds and throwing hand-fulls of marigold seeds into the air and wishing them luck wherever they land. There are box and thyme cuttings hidden under these weeds which need a burst of light and air and a brief reprieve. Weeds are wonderful protectors. They offer little cuttings a head start by sheltering them from human feet and cats' bottoms but they tend to take their task too seriously and get over enthusiastic so, once a year, I pull them back and, for a while, the cuttings have to fend for themselves. The garden looks neat now - far too boring and conventional - but it'll revert!

There are more little white cyclamen flowers this year than ever before. They are crammed, ear-to-ear, in a kind of small den, a ravine between massive (and pretty ugly) fox-glove leaves and a honeysuckle which wanders unattended. Some will need to move. If I don't rescue them from their overcrowded enthusiasm they will trample their neighbours to death.

Esther
That's September!

11 comments:

  1. Sometimes one has to be cruel to be kind in one's garden - although I do love Rambling Recotr - does he have to go? Know what you mean about tomatoes - we always go away just as they are settling in to the greenhouse and we have finally given up growing them as the strain of finding someone to open and shut the door on changeable days makes it all too stressful.

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  2. Is your tea-cup signature new?? I do love that! Looking forward to more posts here if you are gently rearranging your life. Hope that 'bad back' is not too troublesome?

    Oh and tendonitis in the shoulders - the Ungardener started with that. Sorted with two cortisone injections. But that was the first step on our road to Porterville.

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  3. Esther, your post is anything but boring! The rat, baby or not, might do me in.

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  4. Lovely post! Made me smile. :) Had a hilarious converstion with an elderly neighbour recently when she ernestly informed me that rats had recently moved into our neighbourhood and she knew because one of our other neighbours had seen one. I tried to make the point ever so gently that we have always had rats, that they are indeed everywhere, all around us, just doing their rat thing, and that there is really not a thing one can do except try to keep them at bay. I could see that she wasn't convinced. Made me really glad I never got chickens because I have a feeling that they may have been blamed for recent rat sightings otherwise. One just has to laugh sometimes. xx

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  5. Keep waiting for arrival of rats because we have chickens. No sightings so far. I am persuading myself this is not because I am shortsighted but because our neighbour at the farm runs a horsefeed business and has a barn full of grain. Surely any rat with half a brain would stay up there?
    Fabulous blog as always. If I haven't time to read all my favourites I always come to you first you know!

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  6. Hello Weaver of Grass.

    The Rambling Rector is half cut back and I'm stalling; it's hard to see it go. It is wonderful in its flowers, its scent, its exuberance . . . in everything - except that it has ripped the roof off the shed and I need a thorn-free space to to do some mending.

    Esther

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  7. Hello Elephant's Eye.

    I hadn't thought of using the cup as a signature beyond this post - but maybe that's a nice idea.

    Esther

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  8. Hello Joey.

    When I'm being boring, I hope I'm being boring in an entertaining way!

    Esther

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  9. Hello Mo.

    We have a lot of open ground nearby and we often see rats crossing the path ahead of us when we are walking to town. My husband even saw one swimming in the sea once.

    In the open, they are 'nature'. In the house they are . . . unwelcome!

    Esther

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  10. Thanks Elizabeth. I'm so glad you like my posts. It means a lot.

    Rats (unlike chickens) are reputed to have brains. I expect they really are up at the barn!

    Esther

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  11. I really enjoyed this post and your humorous writing on the rat, plus glimpse into your September garden work. We have a resident rat in our allotment I've grown sort of fond of. S/he is considerate enough to keep out of the cottage and mostly travel back and forth between various compost heaps, that's fine. Thanks for your comment on my blog, and I'm glad to have discovered yours. Barbara

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