Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: Rats

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Yes: on their island paradise, along with fleas, cockroaches, mice - against all of which Granny battles with varying degrees of success - there are RATS. No, not those nice brown ones from which everyone in London lives never more than a foot or so away, the dear things. The rats here are black rats: the kind that bought the black death, don't you know. Granny has only ever seen one, mind, and some time back and it was dead, having lost an encounter with the Tiresome Terrier. Black rats are much smaller than brown rats, and Beloved, the animal man, who should therefore have known better mistook it for a very large mouse, until disabused by Granny. 'Look at its tail,' she said. 'That's no mouse.' To which, after some argument - and the flourishing of pictures in the animal guide - Beloved was forced to agree.

There have been no more sightings, merely unmistakable signs of a colony under the chicken house in the back patio garden: the most unmistakable being the disappearance of two hen chicks - and the traumatisation of the third: no young hens then. Or eggs. It looks like the rats are stealing eggs too, meaning that Beloved is feeding his chickens merely to supply rats with food, helping them breed still faster. As far as the hen breeding is concerned, Granny and Beloved are buying an incubator. As far the eggs are concerned, new nesting boxes will have to be built, high up, where the rats can't jump. As for the rats: the only remedy is to take the hen houses apart from time to time and station the Tiresome Terrior to do more of what she's bred for: kill rodents, that is. The first such event is scheduled for after Granny goes away, to her relief.

Meantime you'd think this was the UK judging by the way that people are beefing about the weather. 'We haven't had a summer,' they shout. And it is true that the persistent wind and cloud have driven the campers from Granny's dog-walking/bird-watching beach much sooner than usual. She's grateful for that, even if they aren't. Up where she lives, cloud and wind in the summer is normal: while wind - as in trade winds - is normal everywhere; even when blowing a gale at some point most weeks. What isn't normal is persistent cloud across the whole island: hence the complaints. The weathermen on the other hand say it's pretty typical trade wind weather really, none of the unusual extremes of recent years - calimas and heat to equal India - rain-storms, tornadoes, whatever. (The tornadoes are slight exaggeration but you get the picture.)

Perhaps the moans are, in part, transference from the real cause for complaint: this island, like all Spain is in heavy recession and for much the same reasons: over-development, large amounts of unsold and unsellable properties, over-reliance on the building trade to supply jobs, all of which have now disappeared: a blanket freeze on mortgages makes the surplus properties even more unsellable. Building firms are going bust. There are more than 10, 000 unemployed on the island. One effect is that agricultural land is being put back into use - this is good, at least. Growing your own food - and selling it - once the mainstay of island life- is one good option for the unemployed with access to land. But this isn't any use for people in the towns with no land and no prospects of it. The illegals are in a particularly bad way; good workers - if you are an illegal, being a good worker in essential - they could always get jobs before. Now they have neither jobs nor any hope of social security. The number of burglaries down in Arrecife - the main town- merely to steal food has rocketed.

Against a fight against starvation, what's a bit - or a lot of -of cloud and wind matter...depressing as it is. Not much probably.

PS. Feline Lorengar is now using the cat door: to come IN. She hasn't quite cottoned on yet to going OUT. Granny, tired of pushing, if no longer pulling, lives in hope

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