I had a murder in my backyard. A murder of crows. That’s what good old Webster’s calls a group of crows – like a litter of puppies, a pod of whales, a pride of lions – a murder of crows. Why do I have so many crows? Because the rats are finally gone.
When we had our house built many moons ago there was a prune orchard and an old barn in the large lot behind us. Along with some owls, the old barn must have also had rats. We didn’t know the barn had rats until a new street went in through the prune orchard and a house was built right behind us. Our new backdoor neighbor had a large dog that they fed kibble – outside! Well, once the old barn was burned down (on purpose?), the owls and the rats had to find a new home elsewhere. You know that old saying “when the owl is away the rats will play” (or something like that) – you guessed it – without the owls keeping the rat population in check, the rats were free to move over to our neighbors and started eating the dog kibble. Apparently the rats took up residence in some large bushes near the dog bowl, and while the kibble was their main source of nutrition, they began to branch out their tastes to other things – like our almonds.
We first noticed this a couple of years ago when hubby and I were taking in a late evening swim. We may or may not have had our bathing suits on ;) but we heard some rustling in the almond tree and were alerted to the fact that we weren’t alone! Oh my. But then we saw the silhouettes of several rats running up and down the branches of the tree! A lightbulb literally went on inside our heads! Oh! So that’s why we had so many nut shells and no nuts these past couple of years! Seriously – those rats cleaned out the tree! The next year, after they again cleaned the almond tree, we started realizing the bite marks in our apples weren’t from birds, but probably from the rats! EEEeeeewwwwwwwwwww……….. We decided last year that we had to do something. We didn’t want the rats to take over all of our fruits and nuts, nor did we want them to take up residence in our house! First, we tried a live animal trap. Let me tell you, they aren’t cheap, and for rats at least, they don’t work. Our rats must have been from NIMH (a great animated movie about smart rats), because they didn’t even go near the trap!
We were nervous about putting out poisons because there are so many cats in our neighborhood, including our own, but we found a simple device that allowed rats inside to eat an organic cake poison, but didn’t allow cats or birds access because of the design. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t organic and poison seem odd in the same sentence? Anyhow – Bingo! It must have worked because this year we haven’t seen any rats.
And speaking of cats – aren’t they supposed to eat rats? Are the cats in our neighborhood so spoiled by store bought food that they won’t chase after their natural food? Seriously?
So, like I said, I was able to harvest (ahem steal from the crows) some of the almonds this year, and they sure are good! We were told years ago when we realized we had a volunteer almond tree in our backyard, that almond trees must be grafted or the nuts will be very bitter and not edible. Not true! Our tree produces wonderful, crunchy, sweet nuts! No wonder the rats and crows like them!
I sat in front of the TV one evening to shell out the nuts, and after about an hour, I had four cups of raw nut meats. Now, what to do with them? EAT!!!!!
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