Oh, Rats!

It really is time to mow the grass. It’s getting to be embarrassingly long. Sure we live in a semi-rural area and it’s not so important to have the lawn clippy-clippy perfect—you may have noticed I called it the grass, not the lawn—but still, it’s “high” time (excuse the pun) to cut it.

The John Deere riding mower is parked in the half-finished storage shed. One wall of the shed is still open. Makes it easy to drive in and out with the mower.

I fill the gas tank from a fuel caddy. Screw the cap back on the tank. Need to check the oil. I lift the hood on the mower and let out a shriek. There, between the motor and the battery sits a fat rat. It shrinks together and stares at me with shocked beady eyes, then hops to the other side of the battery just before I drop the hood.

Now what? Well, first things first. I have to stand there and shake and shudder and groan and wail for a minute. No way can I sit in the driver’s seat now with the rat only inches away behind a thin wall of metal. And anyway, I still have to check the oil. No way can I lift the hood again and reach in to unscrew the dipstick. No way the grass is getting cut today. But I have to cut it. The sky is threatening rain in the next hours and the grass is already too long.

I find a pair of long-handled pruners and bang on the tires with them. Nothing happens. I bang on the hood. Nothing happens. I bang on the side of the mower. Something scurries to somewhere. But did it leave the mower or did it run to hide underneath it? Maybe it’s sitting on top of the mower blades.

Standing well back, I gingerly open the hood again. No rat in sight. Quick! Check the oil. Fine. Put the dipstick back. Drop the hood. Take a breath. Put my earplugs in. Start the mower.

I back it out of the storage shed. So far so good.  I put the blade in gear and turn the steering wheel to start mowing. Was that a squeak from the steering wheel or a squeak from a rat? With the earplugs in, I can’t tell. Moments later, I realize the chute from the blades to the catcher bag is plugged. Is it the long grass, or something else? I stop the mower. Nervously, I use my garden claw to reach down into the chute. What will I pull up? Grass? Or pureed rat?

I have serious thoughts about moving closer to town, but I saw a rat run across the street in town one night, so I know they’re everywhere. I’ll just have to  tough it out. Oh, you’ll be wanting to know what I pulled out of the chute. Only grass … this time. I can hardly wait till it’s mowing time again. Meanwhile I’m going shopping for full body armour.

24 thoughts on “Oh, Rats!

  1. Where did the rat go? I’m screaming as well. You have more nerve than I have concerning rats. When you put on your armour get some traps for the rat as well.



  2. As I said the storage shed is only partly finished, so wide open on one wall. The shed is way at the back of the property with lots of woods around. It could be anywhere. There are rats all over but no one likes to admit that one walked through “their” yard. This one couldn’t be ignored. And I don’t know about nerve. I was pretty rattled.


  3. What about the wife and 12 babies hiding in the shed??
    Could Mr. Rat Face have been foraging for leftovers?? Maybe a treat from Ruby’s dish?? I’m getting a bit sick now:)


    • No, this rat was far from our house. Closer to the neighbours’ house and close to their compost bin. But yes, somewhere there is probably a Mrs. Rat and her dozen little ratties. I don’t mind them except you can’t just have one or two. You soon have a bazillion of them. And I definitely don’t want them near the house! Guess I’ll have to deal with them one of these days….


  4. I agree rats are very undesirable. How can they possibly raise them for food in some countries?. A friend of mine ordered rat in a restaurant in Peru.just because he thought “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. When it arrived from the kitchen, he took one look at the plate and sent it back from whence it came! i took one look at it and could hardly eat my dinner.
    Perhaps you could raise rats and send them to Peru!!!


    • Are you sure it wasn’t guinea pig? I know they raise those to eat. But then it’s a small step to a rat. Yes, it would be hard to eat a rat – or anything else after looking at one on a plate. But don’t you think rats are kind of cute? Except on a plate, I mean. (Or in a lawn mower.)


  5. I sympathise, I hear them scurrying about in my barn and I gingerly lift things up that have sat there for a long time just in case they’ve been occupied! Well done for soldiering on and cutting the grass, I’d have quit, put the kettle on and waited for the next dry day. (Crossing my fingers that ratty had gone visiting his relatives in the next village).


    • I figured it would make itself more at home and maybe build a nest there or chew the wires. But yes, I wanted to cut and run. No, not cut – just run!


  6. I adore your style and your sense of humour, and your ability to turn situations into the start of a tremendous book. Love it, please keep posting these. We had a rat visit our house in Bristol… well, not our house, but it used to sit on the deck and sun itself, cool as a cucumber. Then the foxes moved into the back of next door’s garden (Bristol is full of daring urban foxes, it appears) and that was the end of the rat problem.


  7. You did it again! You made a perfect horror story out of (almost) nothing. Oh, I loved it!!! Who is smarter – the rat – or maybe you? So much fun it is to read your blog stories – keep posting them, at least as long as I am alive!!! Thanks for making me laugh!


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