I have to admit I’m
a sucker for gross TV. One look at my DVR season-pass index and you’d think a
15-year-old kid was living in the house. Ever watchThe
Verminators on the Discovery Channel?
Sick! Monsters Inside Me on the Animal Planet? Aahsome! I Survivedon Biography? Only good when someone grapples with an
underfed animal or overactive shredder.
Watching this niche genre of programming fills me with pure
unadulterated pleasure, but I never expected it to advance any knowledge I had
to where I would recall information I learned and use as a basis in recognizing
a real-life problem.
It just shows to go ya.
Last April, Team
Chicken noticed that rats were getting into our coop (Click here for article). I’m mean
who’s kidding whom? Chicken feed looks like something you’d buy in a pet store
to feed your guinea pig. And ours was a copious supply frequently spiked with a
trail mix of other goodies, served up freely in a bright shiny tray. 24/7. A
veritable varmint apartment.
No worries. We tracked down all entry points and covered them up
with bricks. Yeah, bricks. You got a problem with that?
Did someone say amateurs?
More recently, I
happened to be in with the hens and noticed a small gap where a fence that doubles
as the back of the coop meets one of the many adobe walls we have here on the Sunset campus. On the
adobe wall, I noticed the telltale sign of a rodent portal: a darkened blotch
of grime caused by the excessive rubbing from the dirty, rancid, oily fur of a
rat—something I learned while watching “The Vermimators.”
You still with me? Good, ’cause it gets worse.
The fence I mentioned before? It wraps around two sides of the
coop and looks like board and batten siding. Of the seven or eight battens,
three were covered top to bottom with that same rat grime. Like someone had
painted it on. With a brush made from the pelt of a volunteered rat. And to
make matters worse, a narrow ledge about a foot below the top of the fence was
covered in rat poo. Enough to fill a small shoebox.
Clearly a violation on my vomit meter.
And all of this combined with the fact that some of the smaller
holes we had left unplugged seemed to grow exponentially overnight. Oh, and the
bricks? I think the rats pushed them out of the way.
Fear sets in
During an impromptu
meeting of Team Chicken, it seemed our imaginations got the better of us. Could
there be rat droppings in the chicken food? Were the chickens eating it? And if
they were eating it, were we slowly killing our coworkers by giving them our
chicken eggs to make their omelets?
Are there a million
pieces of rat poo underneath the mulch in the coop? What about urine? Could the
hantavirus be present and might we succumb to it were we to breathe it in?
I never signed up for this.
Watching it on television is one thing, but to have the image of a
sea of rats pouring over ground you’re standing on is another. I was having
constant anxiety about the soles of my shoes.
The meeting adjourned, but not before we concluded with the
following: we were all mortified; we were shocked it had gone on unnoticed for
as long as it did; we’d get someone else to fix it. Not because we’re above it,
but because at some point one must realize their own limitations. We’d like to
think of ourselves as rookies in training when it comes to our chickens. When
it comes to rats, we’ll leave it to the professionals.
By Jim McCann, Sunset Art Director