Saturday, 9 November 2013

Rodent Wars

After the fields are harvested, we certainly notice more rodent activity on the farm. Usually Gerry catches plenty of voles (short-tailed field voles) and just occasionally he finds a shrew's nest.

But just a day after the next field was harvested this year, he appeared with a field mouse in his jaws.

And the humane trap inside the polytunnel, which has never trapped a thing, suddenly contained four field mice.
As the weather gets cooler, so the rodents creep closer and closer. Polytunnel crops get nibbled, little furry critters scurry away as I walk the meadow or work in the veg plot, the walls of the farmhouse echo with scratching and scurrying, always sounding unfeasibly loud.
There may even be the odd bit of burrowing under the chicken houses - much bigger holes these ones. For yes. The voles, the field mice and even the occasional rat are seeking food and shelter.

A bad day at the office
for this young rat!

If you can't work out what's happened,
it tried to go through a hole in the fence
which was too small for it.

I had to put it out of its misery.

But then, it had been nibbling
at my mangel wurzels!
Now, the occasional vole scurrying through the grass, or a field mouse running up the wall of the chicken food shed, these seem cute and I could maybe tolerate them. But I once thought the same about some of the prettier 'weeds', perhaps I could just leave a few.
But no, things don't work like that. Any sign of weakness and before you know it you have a plague. And just a few mice can do a lot of damage. They don't just nibble what you expect them too.

So, regrettably, I have had to get the poison out. I try to use this as little as possible and it is best to hit them hard for a short period. Last year I did a post on the wonder that is Eradibait, approved by the Barn Owl Trust and apparently only harmful to small rodents.
See here - Oh Rats! However, having purchased a large and expensive tub of this panacea, I have found that unfortunately the rodents don't actually seem to like the taste of it! They do say to ensure that no other food sources are available. The problem with this is, surely, that if no other food were available there wouldn't be any rodents in the first place. And they clearly prefer whatever they're already eating compared to the Eradibait pellets. Shame.

Of course, cleanliness and hygiene are important. We are careful not to put meat on the compost, we don't top up the birdtables at this time of year and we keep all our grain in rodent-proof containers.
In the house, all the most attractive foods are kept in plastic tubs with secure lids, though the cats tend to ensure that scurrying little creatures stay in the roof spaces and the walls.

This little critter scurried out
 from underneath my laptop in the front room.
Presumably brought in by Gerry to 'play' with later.

But, just for the moment, there is a bit of chemical warfare going on.

And this field mouse has taken up residence
in the food shed down by the chickens.
It is brazenly bold, but I can't afford to feel sorry for it.

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