Getting Ratty

Last week was pretty much a bust as far as being productive in the garden.  I got in an hour in total, prepping one bed for the spring, and I’m glad I did that, as I was toying with the idea of not doing anything at all because it was late in the day and not that warm. It was just a quick job, and I didn’t linger in the garden at all.

Rat front door

That is quite the pile of sand pulled out from under the garden by some industrious rodent.

But if I had lingered, I might have noticed someone had taken up residence under my old squash bed soon to be pea bed.  So, this morning as I did my Monday morning wander to decide what to do, on a cold but dry day I noticed something strange.

Rat back door

It would seem the garden bed is just the hallway as the tunnel just passes through and pops out below ground on the other side of the bed.

At first, I thought it might have been the work of Hubby the Un-Gardener as we had spent a good amount of time up in The Palace getting the soil levelled and Hubby the Un-Gardener was making great piles of excess sand.  I thought maybe he’d bought some down to the garden, but then thought probably not.  I can’t see him bumping down the stairs with Wilbur the Wheelbarrow full of sand.  Especially when I’d told him it was ok to just dump the excess sand over the edge.

Broken irrigation

In the pursuit of the rat race I inadvertently punctured the buried irrigation pipe… Twice!

As I got closer it became clear what was going on…  It was a great excavation of sand from beneath the garden bed with a bit of an indented trail leading to a hole.  It could only be one thing….  RATS!

Fixing irrigation

Being able to gather the bits and bobs from my irrigation supplies stash meant I could just get on with the job. Because it was cold, a hot cup of water is a must to help ease the connectors onto the softened pipe.

The interesting thing is the mound wasn’t my lovely swamp soil, it was all sand.  I was a little worried that with that amount of sand missing underneath my bed, the lovely swamp soil would collapse into the cavity below.  I decided to set things right and shoveled the soil off the area affected, expecting to find a large rat like room in the sand beneath.  But all I found was a tunnel that went across the bed and out the other side.

Fixing irrigation

And just like that the old broken section of pipe was out and a new one added in.

It certainly wasn’t a large enough tunnel to account for all the sand.  So, I started prodding the sand in the path on the other side of the bed and it gave way as I stomped my foot through the exit tunnel.  I thought ‘Right, I’ll follow the tunnel and chase you down! You won’t get away from me!’  I grabbed the shovel and started to follow the tunnel across the path, until I hit something.

Fixing irrigation

The drippers were turned on to make sure their were no drips and leaks coming from the repaired pipe.

I had completely forgotten about irrigation pipe running under the path and had dug into it, putting holes in it in two places.   So, the rat hunt was cast aside, and I gathered the supplies for this new unexpected task – repairing the irrigation.  Fortunately, I had the bits and pieces on hand and was able to remove the broken section and fit in a new length of pipe, secured in place it with a couple of barbed joiners and rachet clips holding it all in place.  Then I ran the irrigation to the old pea bed soon to be the tomato bed and made sure there were no leaks, before covering it all back over.

garden path

And a quick rake of the path and we can pretend the rat hunt and the broken irrigation never happened.

With the irrigation repaired and the rat hunt abandoned, lest I do more damage, I went and got the Good Nature rat trap and moved it to the side of the bed that was once the entrance to the tunnel.  Although after I demolished a good metre and a half of their front corridor, I’m not entirely sure they will use it again or find a new way in and out.

Good Nature Rat Trap

And we’ll leave the job of taking care of the rats to the expert…

But whatever happens I’ll leave it up to the rat trap as I know it does a great job, I’ve had 38 humane kills since I’ve installed it, and I know that because it sends a message to my phone every time it gets one!

Come again soon – it was supposed to rain today but didn’t so, I’m not sure what the week will hold.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

5 Comments on “Getting Ratty

  1. Sarah, Rats and snakes. I don’t like either one of them. I tolerate the snakes because they eat the rats. My garden is in a not so good part of town that can have really big rats that come out of the storm drains. The raccoons live there as well. So far I’ve not seen any rats but I know they are there. I’ve seen a lone deer frequenting the neighborhood lately. It’s probably checking to see if my sweet corn is ready. I thinking I’ll have to put up the electric fence one more year.

    I’m hoping that you catch that rodent before the garden season begins.

    Happy hunting.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer

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    • Yikes Snakes! We don’t have them here. We don’t have raccoons either. We do have deer that roam around here, but I’ve never seen them near the garden, or prints to say they were nearby. I hope you manage to protect your corn. The rats can strip ours days before harvest. : o)

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