So it was with much surprise and dismay that I found myself talking to the rats in the barn. They are not supposed to be there; and more than that, they are not supposed to break my reverie of rodent denial ( I know - having chickens means having rodents, but it's all good until I SEE them) by making noise, but they did.
Walking into the barn, I see the broody hen with the hatchlings, and I answer their chirping with a greeting, and I chatter while I feed them, and I turn to leave the barn and I hear squeaking that is too high and at the same time too quiet to be the chicks. I freeze in my tracks and bark, "I did not just hear rats, did I?" They fall silent, and I wait for more. After a minute, I turn to leave, and they squeak again. (Mocking me now, they are.) So I threaten them with poison pellets, and they fall silent, so I can leave. (Oh, for a chicken like Kathy's....)
But this scenario is repeated an hour later when I am back in the barn to retrieve the grain scoop. Bold, audible, too-numerous-to-be-one, rodent squeaking. And before I can stop myself, I explain to them that my next actions are regretable, but that they brought this all upon themselves by letting me know they are there: I break out the poison pellets. And I sprinkle. Liberally, but in all the spots too tucked away to be appealing to the chickens. Like under the floorboards.
I have been told, that rats are smart. So smart, that when you try a poison or trapping method once, they are then hip to it and won't fall for it a second time. So, I tell the rats that they are NOT that smart, and that they will come, eat the tasty pellets, and go far, far away to die. Any human listening at this point would surely be questioning my grip on reality as I am conversing with rats, but that does not stop me. I am keeping up this banter to quell my absolute disgust at the fact that I am in the same building with cootie-carrying rats.
I move on. To something far more interesting and productive - my latest natural dyeing experiment is finished. I have dyed two skeins of fingering weight (enough for men's socks), with butternuts.
I love the color, and even though the photo included coneflower for color reference, they still did not show quite as golden as I had hoped...so you'll have to trust me.
We are going to try and do a fiber festival next fall, and if we get accepted, it is our plan to have a nautral dyes line. This is the season for dyeing, with lots of plants available on the farm. This is our year to experiment and develop reliable colorways. Maybe four or five will make the final cut...Rudbekia is in the pot now (a repeat) and we are still searching for an acceptable pink. Goldenrod coming up soon...and I am experimenting with sumac bark for an orange...
Oh yeah, before I forget: two dead rats on the floor of the chicken coop the very next day. Obviously they did not hear my admonitions about going far, far away to die, but I'll take dead over live and sqeaking anyday.