One of my daily activities is skimming the news headlines. It’s a useful exercise, and gives me a good feel for some of the things going on in the world. Such news titbits are useful, and can help a person interpret overheard conversations. Funnily enough, the other day a couple of well-to-do blokes were conducting a conversation at volume, banging on about economics. They had an outstanding ability to enunciate their words, so that meanings could clearly be discerned from a goodly distance. Probably have a future in the theatre those two. Apparently the conclusion they came to, was that the recent pause in interest rate rises would bring back stability to the markets, and that would be it for any further interest rate rises. I don’t think so.
Anyway, who cares about economics? Earlier this week the stinky dead rat incident dominated my thoughts. It’s a sad tale of woe. A friend was visiting for lunch on the Tuesday public holiday, and for a few days leading up to that visit, I was sure I could smell the unmistakable stench of decomposition – and in the kitchen of all places. It’s very unreasonable of a rat in its final act of indignity, to go and die under the kitchen floor.
The war on rats is going well, brother! Through sheer craftiness, plus some deft use of steel and rock, we’ve finally got the upper hand on the rats. Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Oh no! Spoke to soon. During the months of March and April as we edge ever closer to winter, the nights get cooler. It’s rather chilly out there at night. And rats use every trick in the book to get under the house. It’s dry under there, and it’s also warm. The timber flooring is insulated with really thick glass fibre bats. And the pipes for the hot water running from the wood heater must keep their cosy little rodent nooks super toasty warm on the coldest of nights. It’s like rat paradise.
Last year the rats access to the chicken enclosure was firmly denied. You shall not pass! And take that ya pesky rodents! Since that win, we’ve turned our attention to the house, and have mostly excluded the rats from getting under the floor. The prize for them in getting under there is so great though, that like the chicken enclosure, they never cease trying. And the other day our perimeter defences were breached. A rat got under the floor.
Every time the rats pull off a successful raid, we learn something new about them, then adapt. It’s a brutal war of attrition, the stakes are high, but we’re wining, mostly. But the enemy is smart and the war is long. After this recent successful raid, we blocked access. Except that unfortunately we trapped a rat under the floor. There are plenty of things for the rat to damage there, so we gave the rat a special feed of unpleasantness. The rat died in a strategic location. Then began to stink.
Sandra didn’t believe me about the dead rat smell. After all, the scent was rather faint, but I could smell it. And in the kitchen of all places. You could say that I have a nose for trouble. At that very moment, trouble was laying dead under the kitchen floor sending up a stink.
On the day before the visitor arrived, I crawled under the floor of the house. For a moment there, I thought my ally Dame Plum rodent bane would assist me, but she looked freaked out, so I left her above the floor. Thanks for that Plum. Anyway, it’s a tight squeeze, but you can crawl around under the floor in the dirt, whilst occasionally sliding under plumbing. There are a lot of cobwebs. And without my wingman, Dame Plum, there was a touch of anxiety about a rat attack. During the anti-rodent activities at the chicken enclosure, many of the rats weren’t shy about attacking a human. Some of them used to leap at me. A frightening experience, and produced a sound from me which was thoroughly unmanly.
It’s slow going crawling around under the floor. Your senses are on high alert, sensing where trouble may arise. Fortunately I have a nose which can scent trouble. Whilst navigating the dirt, I had a flashback. A couple of decades ago an employer lied to me in a job interview. And my nose missed detecting that trouble.
The company was one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the country. They were super excited for me to join the team, I was super excited to work there. Walking into the office, the first thing you noticed was that the staff were moving with a sense of determination and purpose. They were also super excited to work there. The buzz ended the moment one foot crossed over the threshold of the accounting department. The accounts folks looked at me like frightened little rabbits. You could see the fear in their eyes, and the nose suddenly detected the stench of death.
After listening to their stories, the adventurous person sallies forth and makes up their own mind. Over a few days, systems were learned, numbers were reviewed, discussions were had, and hard questions were asked. An inescapable conclusion was reached: Mate, you guys are goin’ down like the Titanic. My boss, who incidentally was a good looking bloke and featured in all the promotional material for the business, when confronted with the assessment, looked at me like I was a crazy person. The justification for the brutal assessment was given and I even supplied a timeline. One month.
Apart from the anxious looking folks in the accounts department, nobody seemed to notice the looming disaster. It was quite the surreal experience. There wasn’t much else to do there, so I quit. And the cheeky scamps didn’t pay me for the good advice they received. Anyway, sadly I was incorrect, they lasted two more months. Note to self: Allow for more time when predicting doom.
As I crawled out of the manhole, all covered in filth and dirt, the dead rat was displayed to the surprised-that-there-was-actually-a-dead-rat, Sandra. I’ve got a nose for this stuff.
When it wasn’t raining this week, the days were sunny and warm, but the nights really are cold now and getting closer to freezing. On some mornings you can see frosty air pooling in low lying areas in the valley below.
Work continued on the recently commenced concrete staircase, and we added a few extra steps this week. The cement is very slow to cure now, so you have to have at least two dry rain-free days of curing before the next higher step can be poured.
At the top of where the staircase will eventually end when completed, a line of Agapanthus plants grew. Those plants are serious garden survivors and have really thick and dense root systems. In order to remove them, the plants were cut back hard, then we used the electric jackhammer to dig them out.
Observant readers will note in the photos above that the staircase ends between two white painted bollards. The stair steps are narrower than the gap between the two bollards, so we decided to fill the space with large rocks. Peak Rocks being a real thing, we had to go and split some large rocks into smaller rocks, then bring them back up the hill. Hard work.
Whilst we had the tools and power in that area of the property, we decided to tackle one of the larger rocks. This time, we cracked the rock in half, and we estimate that with a bit more work, it should supply about half a dozen useful sized rocks.
Thanks to the splitting efforts, we brought four large rocks back up the hill for the new low gradient path project. But before the rocks could be set in place, we had to lower the height of the path and widen it.
The scary old rototiller is used to loosen up the soil on the existing path. The now loose soil is then moved by either rake or shovel over the edge of the path. The process widens the path, whilst dropping the height.
The recently sown seeds for the winter leafy green vegetables have grown in size over the past week.
The bloke who sold me the recently planted tree fern, advised me to never be afraid to water the plant. On days where it does not rain, the tree fern gets watered. And the two slowly unfurling fronds are almost complete.
The recent weather has been ideal for mushrooms, and there’s plenty growing about the farm. Probably all very toxic.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 11am is 12’C (53’F). So far this year there has been 268.4mm (10.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 254.8mm (10.0 inches)