Thursday, 29 January 2015


There was a smidgeon of snow about and a bit of sleet in the air, but the temperature was above zero and the ground felt soggy not frozen. The traps were still set, but the rain and snow had washed most of the bait away. The traps were tripped, another dollop of jam to top them up added and the traps reset. I'm still not sure what the best bait might be.

There were a few faint prints in the wet snow, but not very clear. A set of car tracks in the car park had foot prints and a dog prints leading from it. No sign of Norman's bike tracks, but there was a set of small paw prints that I think is a cat. No sign of other tracks, but with so little snow any creature might have avoided it and still got around.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Waiting for the cold blast

I nipped out this morning to plot 18. There is a cold blast forecast with some snow, though the snow forecast for parts of North America has not really arrived, so maybe we'll not see much snow too. Only time will tell. Overnight there was a lot of rain and the ground was very wet, with puddles standing anywhere the ground has been flattened. One of the traps had been sprung, but not showing any signs of what might have sprung it. The jam bait was still untouched. As the rain started again I simply reset the trap and headed home again.

After writing the piece above I looked outside. There's a thin cover of snow and more falling. Maybe we will have a proper cover of snow over the next few days. I might get a good look at any animal tracks around the site, then I need to identify anything I find.

The thought of starting planting or sowing any veg seems a bit further away.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A waiting game

The two traps were still set and none of the jam taken. I left them untouched. If there's no change tomorrow I'll rethink the bait.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Rat trap

This morning a pair of metal rat traps arrived. After lunch I took them and some apricot jam up to the plot. I wired the traps to metal fence posts added a dollop of jam and set the traps. Lets see what they catch. The last poison was completely eaten so there's still vermin around. I meant to record the installation with a photo, but I forgot.

I then dug out some of the weeds around the fruit bushes which is easy while the bushes are dormant and the ground is very soft. I also pulled out a couple of stray raspberry canes from in amongst the black currants. Raspberries get everywhere. There are a lot of teasel seedlings at the hedge end of the plot and one day soon I'll dig them all out.

Gary arrived with his friend Billy to replace the felt on his shed roof. I gave them a hand. The biggest problem was that the temperature being only about 8°C, the felt was stiff and easy to tear and crack. It looked pretty good when we had done and I hope it lasts years like the previous one.

Thursday, 22 January 2015


A bit of gentle weeding supplemented a rat poison check, which was just lightly nibbled. There's still a bit of snow on the site, but around the weeds it had melted, almost as though the weed had a little heater in it. It may have been simply that the weed stopped as much snow settling at that point too.

The ground is now very wet, with a couple of puddles of standing water where the snow has melted. I didn't think there was enough snow to flood the ground so maybe the ground is frozen below the surface stopping the melt water draining away properly. When the ground is so wet it quickly becomes a quagmire if it gets walked on, so I'll stick to the margins for now.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Plan B

The rat poison was only nibbled when I checked today, but that may not matter any more. Plan B has been initiated. Rat nemesis is winging its way towards me right now. More later ...

Monday, 19 January 2015


I hadn't checked the rat box for a couple of days. Overnight a hard frost and a light cover of snow left a very different-looking site. The box was empty, but there were no footprints in the snow at all, so the poison must have been taken before the snow fell. However, how did they know not to return last night?

I added some more poison and walked around the site. There were no vehicle tracks in the car parks and no footprints to be seen. I quite like the effect of the snow and the frost might curtail the weeds for a while.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Feeding time

Modern laws about poisons have removed various pesticides from sale for ordinary folks. The result of that is entirely predictable: rats have become largely immune to rat poison available to the general public. If a mixture of poisons were available and used in rotation and sometimes together immunity would not develop, but now that immunity is widespread we have no chemical tools available to kill vermin without breaking the law. I'm not going to break the law.

You may have guessed by now that rats are still taking the poison I put out. The poison is a coating on grains of wheat, so if the poison is not affecting the rats then I am simply feeding them grain.

I need a legal alternative.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

False hope

All of the rat poison was eaten when I checked today. It was especially cold and windy today so I refilled the tray and left quickly. I took a spool of wire home, but that's a completely different tale.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Getting somewhere

The wind was bitingly cold and there was still some frost in the shady parts. A puddle was all ice. As I arrived pigeons flew off from Gary's plot and I saw the netting had blown off from his purple sprouting broccoli, so I covered it up again. I checked the rat poison and it was untouched. Maybe I'm getting somewhere against the rats.

I pulled a few weeds up. They are mostly groundsel with some flowers even in the winter. Grass is also showing signs of germinating too. It feels too early (and cold) to be digging yet. If I turn the ground now I would have to do it again before planting, so I'll just pull a handful of weeds as I see them.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tidy up

A quick visit to plot 18 this morning was a pleasant one. The air was cold and calm. The bright winter sun lights everything with a warm, yellow glow. I watched as a female kestrel hunted along a hedgerow, diving out of sight to find a meal and listened to the verbal ding dong of two great tits warming up their song for spring.

I placed a better rat box that keeps the poison dry and away from all but the vermin. I secured it with a couple of pegs into the ground and put a brick on the top to keep it in place as more strong winds are forecast, but only what I'd expect in winter.

I looked around the green house where there were a few pots and a couple of trays that need washing so I brought them home. The whole plot looks untidy with a low cover of weeds, so a slow dig is needed soon to prepare for spring, but there time for that yet. It's also a good time for weeding under the fruit bushes as there's no leaf cover to get in the way and to hide the thorns on the gooseberries.

The gooseberry and blackcurrant cuttings are doing very well. If they continue to thrive I may chance moving the main bushes next winter as the cuttings will be my backup in case of lost plants or poor crops - blackcurrants do not like being moved. I have some loganberry cuttings at home too, I hope they grow in the spring to add to my fruit crops.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Take your fill

I've checked the rat poison I put out every day and it was nibbled, until today. The tray was empty and upturned. Maybe the rats are back, if so they took a bellyful of poison away. The tray is refilled, let's see how much they take tonight.