So, funny thing.
About a week ago, a friend had a Facebook post about a Certified Wildlife Habitat tour that was happening in her neck of the woods.
I was so excited.
This was because I had just applied for The Inn’s grounds to be all kinds of officially certified too!
I’d even received my ‘Yep, you are totally approved!” (well, that’s the way I read it) notification and was waiting for my sign to arrive.
Side Note: It was like they knew me, and my pride’s lack of self-control, because they gave me the option of a ‘regular’ sign, but also the option to donate at a whole new level that would nab me a deluxe cast metal sign.
Did I mention my pride?
Well, allow me to expand upon that for you.
I told EVERYBODY about my certification.
No I am not kidding.
I let my kids know, also anyone in their vicinity know. I even texted the landscape team who worked with me for a decade, helping me realize my vision of the gardens (and then the gardens that joined the original ones, and then the ones that joined those (poor team)).
JoHn or Gabe would walk into the room and I’d be all, “Hey! Did I tell you that the National Wildlife Federation has designated my gardens a Certified Wildlife Habitat? I mean, I don’t wanna brag but…” To which, they replied something like, “You may have mentioned that” approximately two thousand six hundred forty-two times.
Finally, four days ago (or two if you are Christmas Counting*), I heard the door open to the screen porch and, sure enough, the UPS Guy was putting a couple of packages on the table and OH MY GAWD one was big and flat and contained my Certified Wildlife Habitat deluxe cast metal sign!
I immediately unpacked it, and attached the legs to it, and then walked all around the house showing it off because Pride (note the capital ‘P’).
It was raining on Saturday, so I didn’t install it. But I did steal some moments by my kitchen windows, gazing out at all that led to this moment – most specifically the food sources for birds and bees and butterflies.
The fruit and berry trees…
The flowers I could see and the ones yet to emerge…
And, of course, the hummingbird feeders and single seed feeder that sits just outside the french door, allowing me to see and photograph chickadees, cardinals, juncos, goldfinches, blue jays, and mourning doves (along with the occasional squirrel).
It was a magical fluttering and tweeting and buzzing and chirping Certified Wildlife Habitat.
I planned on heading out on Sunday morning to set up my new sign.
Enter Sunday morning.
I walked into the kitchen and JoHn was all excited and whispering ‘Come here!’ and motioning to the window.
I was pretty excited right away because, apparently, there was at least a baby squirrel nibbling below the feeder, or maybe even a rare Maine sloth.
So I tiptoed over to the window, where JoHn pointed outside and whisper-asked, ‘What’s that?”
And I will tell you what that was, because I needed exactly NO seconds to know.
That was what that was.
We’ve been here for twelve years.
I have fed birds for all that time.
I have my share of little red a**holes… but…
I made my way over to the side door and, sure enough, he was right there – on the other side of the glass and not three feet from me – nibbling away on the seed that had spilled (or been maniacally tossed by a certain little brown sparrow) onto my farmer’s porch.
That was when I realized it:
If my sign was ‘The Pride’?
Then this rat was ‘The Fall’.
Sure, he was just doing what he was supposed to do, but he had to GO.
I needed info.
But it turns out that entering ‘Rat at bird feeder’ into Google is the equivalent of looking up ‘Fingernail pain’ on Web MD.
Apparently both can lead to Ebola.
One commenter actually did claim that rats carry Ebola (not kidding), which was the false factoid that actually got me off the internet and into real life action.
I removed my seed feeder.
I vacuumed my porch.
I vacuumed the ground around my porch.
I got a bucket and put a little Dawn Dish Detergent in it (shockingly, I had some), and wet mopped the entire porch.
JoHn had already called Modern Pest and they’d be out this week to check the house.
Why do we know a pest guy?
Well, about ten years ago a family of red squirrels decided to decimate our electrical system (among other things). Thousands of dollars of damage translated into war (and their designation as a**holes).
I needed to know if a rat even considered entering my house.
Sadly, the Modern Pest man could not actually confirm ‘intent’, but we did find out that the Rat hasn’t been hanging out in the house. There were no discernible entry points, and no sign of any undesirables having been in the house – no evidence of any mouse, or carpenter ant, or freaky foreign beetle, or squirrels… and none of rats.
So, the bird feeder having no seed for a few days has probably sent the little guy on his way but – just in case – it will have no seed for two weeks (it’s actually filled with water now, in case anyone wants a bath). Then I’ll clean it and put something called ‘no waste seed’ in it (less fillers, so less mess because it’s all so dang yummy) and I will bring the feeder in at night and sweep up the porch each afternoon.
Sure, it’s a bit of extra effort, but we Certified – now Selective – Wildlife Habitat Rangers are willing to put the time in when need be.
I was telling a friend about ‘the rat’ the other day, and she laughed at me and said she was looking forward to learning how I could possibly draw a silver lining around this one.
Seriously, she said, “Oh I can’t wait to see if you can come up with a silver lining for this one!”
I don’t even know what to do with this friend.
Because, upon seeing him, I’d immediately named my temporary rat, ‘Templeton’.
Which means…. yep.
I’m practically E.B. White.
Thanks for readin’.
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