Visitors In The Garden


This week's project around the house is the garden. The garden is just two raised beds in the backyard, with a little chicken wire fence around it to try and keep a ground hog out. We started the garden a few years ago but last August with other things on our minds we sort of fell away from checking on it everyday, and encouraged by the overgrowth and our casual attendance, the rats moved in. It sucks.

At the time, the presence of rats was enough to tank the mood on the entire enterprise. Dealing with a ground hog is different because it's just one guy and he's kind of big and bumbles around. With rats it's different, it's a whole cloud of possibility. How many there are, where exactly they are, will they jump at me and bite me, these are the concerns regarding rats. Almost immediately we decided that neither of us had the juice to fight a rat wave and quite frankly it wasn't worth the aggravation. Summer turned to fall, and then winter. Now it's spring. The garden is just dirt and holes at this point, but the wheel has turned and with a new mood I'm feeling aggro again and I'm messing with the rats big time.

OK before I go on I should say that I honestly admire the rat. Rats are survivors, they have what it takes. Last year was the year of the rat and I felt a bit like a rat in a way that endeared me to them. And I'll never forget that all placental mammals on this wild blue marble evolved from a small nocturnal rat-like ancestor. We share a lot of genetic material. But that doesn't mean I want them rooting around among the peonies. There's a lot of animals I can think of that I admire that I would rather keep away from the peonies-- aardvarks, bobcats, catamounts, dalmatians, elephants, foxes, gorillas, humans, iguanas... well actually iguana problems are probably pretty negligible, but you see what I'm saying. Rats are what I have so that's the focus of the discussion today. If I should have a problem with jackals, kangaroos, llamas, marmosets, neopets, ocelots, pumas, quokkas, rhinoceroses, sea lions, tapirs, ungulates (various kinds), vultures, walruses, xylophones, or zebras, in among the peonies or really anywhere on the premises, I'll open a new support ticket.


Presently for the rats I have a two-pronged approach. The first prong is chemical-- I read that they hate peppermint oil so I got some of that and I've been soaking some small pieces of sweatshirt that I stapled around the perimeter. Why do animals hate mint? Mint is great. I lived in two places where we planted mint around the outside of the house to deter ants, and in both cases it seemed to help AND the mint was aperiodically micro-harvested for mojitos, juleps, and gins and tonic. That's win win.

The second prong is architectural. I read that they hate change, and order, so I'm turning over all the dirt in the garden every day for a week or two. I started last week and they all ran out, now I'm going out to dig around every day to make sure. I think if I can keep them away for a week, and then plant, and then be out there every day or so messing around, they'll just set up shop somewhere else.

There's a lot of garbage in this neighborhood and a lot of nice piles of things to crawl under-- it's a real breadbasket for rats. So my goal is not to get rid of every rat within a mile, that's impossible. The goal is just to make these few square feet of garden a less-than-ideal setting for a rat to raise a family. That seems viable. Farmers in the timeline can laugh at me but like, let me have this dream. Or at the very least, save your laughs for later.

I really shouldn't even be talking about this plan, because I'm still in the still morning light of it, too soon to rack up points one way or the other. But I like the plan, I'm into it. I'm not much of a gardener, I don't really feel called to it yet. So it'll be nice to have a daily upkeep scenario where I know exactly what needs to be done. And from a problem-solving standpoint, I love to implement an architectural solution. "Change the environment to make the problem less likely". As I mentioned last week, I started a morning meditation thing (at the pond, weekdays at 8:30, anyone welcome, a bell will ring), and that has a similar feeling to this daily shovelling-- it's a bit of a trick to acquire a habit, one whose regular benefit is an area that rats find less desireable for nesting.

links / misc

  • I have a new song out, on a comp that Mindy put together to support the new White Electric coffee co-op. [link]. I really wanted to have a different name for this musical identity than the one I've had up to now but I couldn't pull the trigger. I made lists but nothing really rang like a bell, and I asked people for ideas but nothing clicked. Thank you Pearl Pony for the suggestion "Coffee Deeds" and Tsarlag for the suggestion "Donna's Plastic Cheekbone".

  • back issues of Mothers News are once againe for sale, on the Domino Books website: [link]. there's a lot of good stuff on there so click around.

  • Keith Fullerton Whitman's blog was down for a while but it's back now. It's a music gear review blog where he forces himself to account for each new piece of music gear that he feels compelled to buy. Well I guess it was working well because it seems like it resulted in him buying less stuff (and writing less) over the last few months. I don't know what any of this stuff is and everything is listed by just the model number, so if you don't like puzzles, or blocks of text where you're not entirely sure what the subject is, you might not like this. I like it tho :) []

  • best song about an actual rat (not about a person who is rat-like) is Michael Jackson, "Ben": [youtube] (video contains no rats)

  • best song by the band Ratt is "Round And Round" [youtube] (video contains rats)