Well, we have a rat problem.
We should have known. It started a while ago, when rats got into our 50-pound bag of chicken food in the garage. We should have known that 50 pounds of poultry feed in a paper sack would be tempting for any varmits around. Still, we solved that one pretty quickly by putting the food in a plastic tub with a snap-on lid. End of story.
Well, not quite. I went out on one of our snow days and discovered rat pellets in the chicken's food trough underneath the coop. Because of the snow, it was pretty easy to figure out where they were coming in -- there was a hole in the snowpack where they'd dug through it and into a gap in the coop's outer wall. I put a few bricks in place there, but the next night they repeated the trick by digging into a different area.
Since then, I've started taking the food out of the coop and putting it in an airtight bin on the porch. Annoying, but I figured that would solve the problem. However, when I went out the other night at 5 p.m. to shut the chickens up for the evening, I found rat droppings in the food. They'd either gotten into it during daylight hours or right at dusk, in the hour of darkness before I removed the food.
Greg bought the latest in rat-catching techniques, something that some people we met at a party told us all about. (It was a good party, really, even though we spent a lot of time talking about chickens and rats.) The trap is basically a piece of plastic coated with uber-sticky gel. The package even touts a "natural anesthetic" in the gel, presumably to calm the rat in its death throes as it discovers it is permanently adhered to a piece of plastic.
We'll see what he finds in the trap tomorrow. Here's one thing I cannot do -- I can build a chicken coop with power tools, but I cannot deal with a rat.