My sister-in-law, Gretchen said she saw a rat run across our backyard in broad daylight.
I thought surely she was mistaken and it was probably a mole.
She brought up pictures of moles and rats on her phone and declared definitively that it was indeed a rat that was cruising through our yard.
Later that evening, I saw it too.
Totally a rat.
Which was totally not cool.
If you remember, Monte had an encounter with a rat in our garage last fall.
But he set traps and laid out poison and never saw him again
so we thought the problem was taken care of.
so we thought the problem was taken care of.
Over the next month, we saw multiple rats of various sizes running through and around our yard.
I was pulling weeds and saw a baby rat scurrying around the bush I had just had my hand underneath.
I was on the phone outside when two teenage size rats ran along our fence like they didn't see me standing right there.
I half expected them to turn around
and wave a little top-of-the-morning greeting to me
because clearly they weren't the least bit alarmed
by the nearness of an adult human.
Ellie had some friends over for a backyard picnic for her birthday.
I was on the patio talking with a group of her friends when I saw the BIGGEST RAT I had seen to date run out of our garage into our neighbor's yard.
I didn't say a word about the rat but quietly excused myself to let Monte know I would be setting the entire house on fire soon.
Monte set out more traps.
He woke me up super early before he left town for a business trip to tell me that the rat trap he had set out the night before was gone.
He explained that he looked under bushes and trees and even walked down the sidewalk in both directions to see if the trap had been drug there by a desperately hurt, hopefully near death, rat.
Then he kissed me goodbye and left town.
The longer I laid in bed, the more convinced I was that no rat had been killed in this missing trap mystery.
No, this trap merely infuriated the thriving rat community that had moved into my yard.
I envisioned a rat meeting with the trap as Exhibit A, fueling plans being drawn up for revenge.
I decided to go all Braveheart myself with freedom from rats my new mantra.
I put big stones over any hole I found in the yard.
I sprinkled peppermint oil EVERYWHERE because I read they hate it.
I talked with neighbors and found out
they all had a rat story as well.
One neighbor said that they wouldn't stay long where they aren't getting fed.
I grow tomatoes in a raised metal livestock trough.
I wondered if they could climb up its slick sides.
The two baby rats I saw the next day climbing the tomato plants answered that.
I pulled up every single plant.
Monte called an exterminator and asked if he had stronger poison than we could buy on the market.
We weren't above meeting a guy in an alley for
"the good stuff" if it meant no more rats.
The guy said the poison only kills the baby rats because the adults build an immunity to it.
This sounds like the villain of a super hero movie.
The exterminator also told Monte not to buy a trap that doesn't kill the rat because relocation doesn't really work for them.
They will come right back.
Monte explained very plainly
that we were not interested in relocating rats.
We were told we were going to need bigger traps.
Monte experimented with different bait.
One morning Ellie and I woke up to see a baby mouse struggling to free its foot from the trap.
It was tough to watch it flip and flop so we didn't.
Some time later I checked to see if the mouse had given up and it was gone.
I envisioned another angry revenge meeting led by a rat with a missing foot.
I took Ellie to a friend's house and when I backed up, I saw a dead rat in the middle of the driveway.
It had all four feet so it couldn't have been the other baby rat.
How many rats were living in my yard?!
I had the strong urge to put a For Sale sign in the yard.
My girlfriend, Beth, texted that she was coming over so I could help her with a project.
I gave her a little FYI on the dead rat in the driveway that I had no intention of moving until Monte got home.
She told me to get her three plastic grocery sacks and that she was going to handle it.
I grabbed a big farm scoop shovel too,
just in case.
Using the bags as a glove, she grabbed the rat up like it wasn't the most disgusting thing on planet earth.
She put it on my shovel so I could put it in the trash.
Somewhere between there and the garage, a swift wind popped up and blew the bag my direction.
I may or may not have flat lined for a moment.
Beth grabbed the bag and shoved it in the trash can like it was filled with food scraps not the survivor of the plague.
I walked across the street that evening to see a neighbor when I noticed something dead in the trap in the front yard.
It didn't look like a rat.
Upon a guarded closer look, I found it was a chipmunk!
I texted Beth that her services might be needed again but Monte took care of it when he got home.
The next morning, Monte woke me up early with a,
"You've got to come see this."
I knew right away it was rat related.
I walked out in my pajamas then instantly got squeamish and decided I couldn't risk a stray rat running across my feet so I asked for a piggy back ride.
Monte took me (on his back) by two of the biggest dead rats I've ever seen.
I stared at them a long time to make sure they weren't faking it and would use that as some hilarious anecdote at the next rat revenge meeting.
"They really thought we were dead!
And the lady in the pajamas couldn't even walk on her own two feet, she was so scared!"
Monte asked for two garbage bags.
This was going to be WAY bigger than a grocery sack job.
When he shoveled the first rat in, he picked it up to put it in the trash can and said it was so heavy it creeped him out.
The girls and I went out of town (not because of the rats, although it was a well-timed escape) and Monte sent a sad picture that his latest rat trap bait option, maple syrup, had unfortunately killed a cardinal.
Our trash was filled with the contents of a horror show.
Little did those unsuspecting sanitation workers know that inside our trash can were
and a cardinal.
Yesterday, I accidentally found myself in the scary Halloween section of a home decor store.
I saw this:
I considered buying it and putting it in our yard as a warning to any future rats.
But it was just too creepy.
I sincerely hope this is the end of this story.