Murder, Rats and Almonds

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.

Whaaat???? Rats???!!!   To make a long story short:Harvesting almonds

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.

Harvesting almonds

The pool deck under the almond tree is littered with almond shells and husks!

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!

Harvesting almonds

Our beautiful cat, Shadow, in the orange tree – not the almond tree!

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.

Almond harvest

The rat poison must have worked because we still have a few almonds left in the tree!

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, now that the rats are gone and the almonds were ripe for the picking, the crows moved in.  Ummm – great.  Almond harvest

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!

Almond harvest

One episode of X-Factor and this is what I accomplished!

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!!!!!

Thank you for your comments and questions!  I try to answer each one, so please, feel free to leave one below!


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31 thoughts on “Murder, Rats and Almonds

  1. I think rats are worse than mice because they are more intelligent. My 8 year old son has two pet rats in a large cage. We recently bought him a little boy to mate with his girl rat as the pet shop has offered to buy the babies. Booya! Extra income for my son 😀 But we bought the boy to replace the little girl who died, whom we bought to replace the girl that my husband accidentaly let escape. This escapee still lives beneath the house, avoiding all means of trapping, poison, cats and even our terrior’s! I dunno. She’s okay for now, but I hope she doesn’t eat something that caiuses us expensive problems as I don’t know how to get rid of her!!
    I have an almond tree! It is about five feet high and only a wee baby as yet, but I cannot wait till it grows big enough to give us nuts! We had an almond tree on the farm when I was living with my family, and the nuts were heavenly!
    Love the way you used murder in your blog, by the way 😀 😀 People don’t oftn call them that now days, but then, so much of the English language seems to have been forgotten. Up until about five years ago I had never heard of a perambulator! We have crows here, sometimes more, sometimes less. I can’t say I like them. I per the currawongs. They are more genteel.

    • I have never heard of a currawong – I will have to look that one up! I am not really very fond of the crows and around here in California they can harbor the West Nile Virus, so I would prefer that they go away. It’s interesting that your pet rat is living under your home undisturbed! In our neighborhood, with all the cats, you would think there wouldn’t be any rats! But, maybe the rats are just too big and vicious (shudder) for the cats to tangle with?
      We planted a baby almond tree up on our future homestead last winter. I sure hope it grows fast and produces sooner than later, because I just adore almonds!

  2. Hello! I am visiting from Deep Roots at Home. Wow! What a story. I have a tom cat who is quite big and healthy from keeping down the field mice about the property. Country Mouse had to go visit Town Mouse permanently. ~smile~

    I’m glad you got your problem with rats solved. I agree, organic poison is weird.


    So thankful to be in the service of my King and my family

    Harvest Lane Cottage

    • Thanks for visiting, Laura! Yes, it is quite a story – but at least I finally got some of those almonds! Life’s little victories make some of the best blessings! BTW – love your blog and Caramel Apples – YUM!

    • These really weren’t hard at all! Once I got the hang of it, I had a whole bowl in no time! I’m making almond cheese with some of them. I can’t wait to see how this turns out. Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts!

  3. I have never thought about growing almonds! I have gotten pecans from the tree. Yum. I have to say, all of those rats would have completely freaked me out! Thanks for an entertaining read. 🙂

    I found your blog at Deep Roots at Home.

    • Hello Vickie! I’m Vickie also! It’s hard to find a Vickie who spells their name like ours – it’s usually Vicki or Vicky or even Vikki! Anyhow, I checked out your blog and I like it so far! I see your blog is only a few months old – have fun with it! Oh, yes, the almonds and the rats – yes, the rats did freak me out! I was so afraid they would get into the house! Thanks for stopping by and for your comments!

  4. We have been rescuing abandoned feral farm cats for several years (they razed the farms, moved out and left the cats). Turns out the cats cannot live on rodents especially since cats are domestic animals, not wild. They think of rodents as toys to play with until broken and if properly fed they are really good at killing their toys, I mean rodents. Good job on getting rid of the rats in a pet safe manner. That takes a lot of work. Enjoy the almonds!

    • Thank you so much for this information! And thank you for rescuing those precious cats! I think we did get rid of the rats (fingers crossed), at least the ones that have been visiting our almond and apple trees!

  5. I have rats that have moved into the attic of my chicken coop. I’ve spent over $600 with a rodent catching firm but still have rats! What kind of trap and poison did you use???? I’ve been afraid of poison because of my dogs, but rats just have too much of a ick factor and I need to get rid of them!!!

    • I don’t remember the exact name of it – I think we got it at Tractor Supply. It is a plastic contraption that has a door for the rat (or mouse) to enter, go around a short maze to get to the poisoned bait, and then exit. Supposedly if an animal eats the rat after it dies, it doesn’t harm them. We know most of the cats in our neighborhood and none of them have disappeared – so I guess it was okay. Our back door neighbor’s dogs are still barking also, so apparently if they got a rat it didn’t bother them either. But, from what I understand, the rat will usually die in their nest anyway. This contraption was a bit pricey, but it certainly didn’t cost $600, more like $19.95 I think. Good luck!

    • Yes, cats can be a problem when it comes to which prey they prefer! I wish they would all learn: rat – good. Bird – bad. But, we love them anyway! Thanks, Steph!

    • Thank you, Lydia! Serendipity! I checked out your blog just now and you made apple muse! That’s just what we needed for my son’s Anthropology of Food class project that he needs to do this weekend! Thank you. And thank you for reading my articles too.

  6. Rats and Crows? Ewwww. Freak me out. I am so happy there are no rats around here – that I know of – knock on wood.

    Stopping by from Say It Saturday. Have a great weekend.

    • Haha – you never know! We had always thought the birds were getting the almonds until that fateful evening when we saw them in the tree! (shudder) I think I had nightmares for a few weeks after that. The crows are a much better habitant, in my book. Thanks for stopping by Darlene!

  7. I clicked on your post at Say It Saturday because I was curious to see who your beautiful cat murdered! LOL I’m a cat lover…well, all animals really, but I’m okay with rats being exterminated in the way you accomplished your mission.
    Very interesting story – especially to someone like me who lives in a state with no almond trees.
    I wish somehow your commenter, “Widgy Cat” would know that I, too, appreciate her rescue efforts on behalf of feral cats. I do the same thing.

    • Well, then, I need to thank you also to you – for being a feral cat rescuer! Thank you! I know that many people out there would have a problem with me “exterminating” rats, but holy cow, if we didn’t, we would have no almonds for ourselves! I think rat extermination is better than human starvation!

  8. With Rats, Cats, and Owls sounds like you are ready for Halloween. Even if it wasn’t intentional. lol! Seeing rats scurrying around while I was in a pool, naked or clothed would freak me out. Thanks for sharing this story with SYC.

    • Yes, I was just a bit freaked out when I heard the rustling in the tree, and then again when I noticed it was rats!!!! 🙂 Thanks Jann

  9. So sorry to hear about the rats! We have three cats that we share with our neighbors – they’re spoiled, Dearest wishes they’d get the vermin more too! I”d love to have an almond tree – how delicious! Love that a group of crows is called a murder – how cool! We’ve had them too!~ I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,