dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Tale of the Fainting Rat

In full disclosure, Steele does not appear in this story but a friend suggested that I share this one.

Someone once described a barn in a field as an Oasis in the the desert- it attract all sorts of life to it. This I found to be true. My barn was completed last December. I think the first mouse moved in January- there must have  been an ad on the internet or something. This is, of course, the reason we have Martin - well really that's how I sell the idea of  a cat so that Ed thinks that he's useful. Truth is we'd have a cat anyway. I believe that he knows this on some level but this is one of the many fictions that help a marriage along. Of course once the kitten is home how can you resist:

Martin is an avid mouser. Well, sort of. Depends on his mood really.

Belle is our Australian Shepherd. We got her from a rescue and she really is a beautiful dog.
Despite the fact that Aussies are supposed to be herding dogs she has never shown the slightest inclination. She is, however, a great mouser. Except that she often doesn't finish them off-she spits them out and leaves them for Ed and I. Which leads to the deal that Ed and I have made- he finishes them off (if he's around) and I dispose of the carcass (if I'm around). Snakes are all mine to deal with- which is fine. I like snakes and won't have them killed.

d'Arcy is our Border Collie. He's got the personality of a lab and the energy and IQ of a BC. It makes him a terrific farm dog. He often photo bombs my pictures.
Everyone is his friend or a friend he hasn't met yet. If you come to my house and bring a puppy he will baby sit. Belle will tell it to stay away from her stuff and Martin will be appalled and take off.

Hang on, I'm getting to the rat.
So this summer some rats moved into our barn. I put out traps but they didn't seem to work- other than as a food delivery system.

 One beautiful summer day I had just finished a ride on Irish and had him on the cross ties when we heard this horrible squeaking coming from the other side of the tarp we have hanging (it separates the hay from the tools and keeps the sun off the hay when the barn doors are open). I saw a dog shape through the tarp and figured that Belle had a mouse. Irish was getting upset by the squeaking so I untacked him and let him go outside.

 I went to see what the ruckus was about and there was d'Arcy sitting there looking as proud as punch with a huge rat laying on it's back in front of him.
"look mom, I found a friend, isn't he pretty? Can I keep him?"
I looked at the rat- it was big. Now, I'm not afraid of rats. In fact in University one of my many jobs was to get the rats used to being handled so that the Psych 2000 students could work with them. I was a rat whisperer if you will. But a wild, large rat is a different kettle of fish.
I looked at it- it looked dead.
But then I thought I saw it's chest move. Great. It's 'almost dead'.
I take out my cell phone and call Ed (he's in the house, but I wanted to keep my eye on the rat).
"Hi honey, d'Arcy caught this rat, can you come out and finish it off?"
"d'Arcy? You mean Belle. Because of course it's not Martin"
"No I mean d'Arcy"
"How did d'Arcy get a rat?"
"I don't know. Just get out here and we can discuss it later!"

As I wait for Ed (really how long does it take to get out the barn, is he having a coffee first?), I stare at the rat. d'Arcy is also looking at the rat with love in his eyes. I think that I can no longer see it breathing. Good, I think, it must have died. I go grab the shovel and scoop it up.

At this point the rat comes spectacularly to life- lets out an loud squeak and leaps off the shovel. I let out a loud shriek and drop the shovel. At this point Belle comes out of no where, charges in and I hear:
It all happened in seconds. The rat is now decidedly dead. Belle looks at d'Arcy and I  and I swear she rolled her eyes and trotted off. Ed comes into the barn and I explain what happened. Martin comes sauntering into the barn trying to look casual but I suspect he was watching all this from the doorway. We look at d'Arcy who has this expression (this is an old photo but the expression was the same):
We killed his friend.

So I did a little research. Turns out that if rats get enough adrenaline surging through their system they can 'faint'. I guess it's like a playing dead theory. Apparently, scooping them up with a shovel revives them from a faint.

Good information to have when living in the country.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!! That look on D'Arcy's face is priceless! What a funny story. :) I didn't know they could faint either. Interesting.


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