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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Friday, January 13, 2006


It was back at the end of September when this story took place – during the last mowing of the season.

What is it about the word “rat” that makes me want to include the terms flea-bitten and filthy in the definition? It’s possibly because these rodents usually are part and parcel of both those conditions. You might get the idea that I don’t like rats and you would be exactly right in that assumption. I do not excessively fear them, any more than I would any other animal that can bite one’s finger to the bone.

It’s not that I totally object to them living on the planet, I just don’t want them living in close proximity to me. The problem is that if one has an unkempt area nearby, one does not have to invite these outdoor rodents, they just move into this small jungle on their own. Part of my yard – down the hill – doesn’t get mowed very often and it was an open invitation to anything needing shelter.

The time came for the mowing of the rough areas of my yard and I tried to remember if this exercise took place on an annual or semi-annual basis. Or was it biennial? Was this effort at remembering a stalling tactic? As I knew it would be, it turned into a slow and arduous task, with the tall grass and weeds threatening to choke the mower every moment. The spot was mowed in a counter clockwise direction so as to discharge the cut material away from the uncut and to help in keeping the mower relatively unclogged.

Starting on the outside of this somewhat square circle, the uncut growth in the center slowly got smaller and smaller. Suddenly a brown furry entity made a bounding get-away across the already cut strip of ground. It was fairly large for what it was, almost the size of a small squirrel but it got away so quickly that I didn’t have time to interview it to see how its life had been that year or to even to get its name.

It definitely was a field rat and I started noticing that as the overgrowth was cut away, it revealed many well-worn paths under the multitudinous plant growths. It almost seemed like a rat city – or maybe a small village – in which these critters could live safe and out of sight. One spot was lined with grass straw, identifying it as possibly their main residence. None of these things were evident until the grass, etc. was cut down.

This under-plant village must have had a storage area for food items kept for a midnight snack, but I never found a tiny TV or remote – must have been female rats. There was a fairly large bare area uncovered by the mowing that I was somewhat puzzled about. After consideration, my conclusion was that it had to be a dance floor. It was smooth and compacted with no roots or anything on which to stub their little paws as they were boogieing to all hours of the night.

The area of uncut plant material in the center of the square circle got smaller with each round and suddenly I saw another rat make a run for a hiding place elsewhere. It wasn’t having much success at this and kept ducking under the mat of cut grass. It was more than I could stand and I put my self-propelled walk-behind mower in top speed and went after the rat. Just as I would reach the small furry, it would bound away again to another semi-hiding place.

Finally it made a run all the way across the mowed area to a stand of trees. The mower and I reached this place of sanctuary just a foot or two behind it but it had escaped the sudden death playoff with the blades of the noisy machine. At least the rat and I got to have a little excitement in our lives, something the rat can squeak to its grand-rats about for months to come.

No matter how big a rat a person might be, they still have an appointment some day with another type mower – or should I say reaper. And after this they will be judged for all their deeds, ratty and otherwise. ec


Blogger bubba said...

Yeppers. Rats do have a repetation. I like using natural remedies for varmits. I have been known to chunk up a rattle snake in the mower.

1/13/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I think I would find it somewhat nerve-wracking to mow that section. Not that I'm a wimp mind you. Not much.

1/13/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Bonita said...

When I was little, an incident like this occured when my father was mowing the grass in front of our mountain cabin. He uncovered a little nest of hairless mice. He came and got all us kids, lifted the nest up, and talked about the delicate care we must exercise in the woods, not to disturb the little lives in the forest. When we told Mother, she was aghast with disgust, and told him to go retrieve it, and throw it away...what a lesson that was for me. Spoke worlds about my parents.

1/13/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger JunieRose2005 said...


I remember from my early childhood (in Alabama) , Mom finding a nest of baby mice in a box of clothes that had been packed away. Being Mama,the kind hearted soul she was, she just set them free outside!

I DO NOT like rats or mice but I would have trouble being the one to Get Rid of them myself! Thank God I have a good husband to do those things ! :) I have trouble killing BUGS, even!


1/13/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Sp far today I have read posts about cockroaches, carrion, dead frogs, and—now—rats. What is it…Friday the 13th or something?

1/13/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger jay are said...

yes! that must have been quite a sight---a grown man, running with all his might, pushing a lawnmower, the object of his pursuit hardly visible to the onlooker! hah! I'm kind of glad that you didn't catch him, tho, because the thought of that is quite disgusting....the filthy vermin that he was, notwithstanding.

1/13/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

While mowing, with a ride-on-mower, the 5 acre block of a previous residence I used to often encounter cane toads, a horrid imported creature that found semi tropical Queensland to it's likeing and set about a breeding program of frightening proportions........... where was I ?
Oh yes, I was mowing, onlookers would often see my straight-line mowing suddenly go crazy as I set off after another cane toad.

1/13/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

bubba - Couldn't tell what kind of snake it was but I did that once myself - accidently.

AC - It was just another adventure at the "patch". :)

bonita - We lived on a farm when I was little and my father would find baby rabbits and tell my older brother to "get rid of them" - we kids were horrified. Dad had no use for anything that ate our crops.

junierose - I have no trouble "getting rid of" bugs, rats and poisonous snakes, most everything else gets a pass.

SSN - Wow and I missed those other good ones! :)

jay are - A chuckle rises from within everytime I think about it myself. I would probably have felt bad if I had caught it - but not for a very long.

peter - Now that would be messy - I've only seen those on TV and not up close and personal. ec

1/14/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger JD's Rose said...

I use to have pet rats... they are kind of cute when they are clean.

1/14/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

kylz - My brother and I used to have hamsters when we were growing up but somehow they seemed different to their rodent cousins. ec

1/14/2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger adannells said...

I actually had a pet rat when I was in 6th grade! One of my friends had one and I talked my mom into letting me have one too. She was a brown rat. (The white ones with the red eyes give me the creeps!) She was very sweet and enjoyed riding around on my shoulder. The one thing that I couldn't get used to was her tail. It was so long and disgusting, so I just did my best to ignore it. They only live a few years and she is burried in my parents orchard next to Toby my sweet little duck. :)

1/14/2006 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

adannells - The tail thing wasn't an issue with the hamsters - just a little stub of one. They were cute but would occasionally bite. ec

1/14/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger JunieRose2005 said...

I have just one more little story about lawm mowers and critters...

OK- for many years we lived in South Florida, and certain times of the year Land Crabs are a problem; invading neighborhoods which are near the water.

My husband had a lawn and landscape business and had employed his brother, along with several other men, to do the work of maintaining
lawns, landscaping areas or whatever a customer might want done.

This relative
(star of this story-I will call him JACK!)
had this thing of running over as many of these crabs as he could- just for the heck of it!
(A thrill to one may be a huge Gross-out for another!)

...This day, as Jack started out on his rider mower, he spots this very large land crab- just sitting still in his path! The fact that it didn't move might have sent off warning flags to one not still in a haze from the previous night's drinking...but Jack was exempt from any rational reasoning...
All he saw was the thrill of crab bits flying in all direstions!

Now - I can just imagine a LIVE crab, cut and scattered, would be an unpleasant sight and smell...

But a DEAD crab, that has been setting in the Florida sun for untold hours or days,
meeting the same fate with a lawn mower, has to be the stuff of which nightmares are made! :)

True story! :)


1/14/2006 01:39:00 PM  

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