my own personal backyard Stalingrad

This'll be a post about nothin', but I'll try to make it entertaining.

I got interested in the battle of Stalingrad due to a highly recommended book I read. This was about as heinous as warfare gets, resulting in massive damage and a death toll of over 1.5 million... but, it stopped the Nazis from getting to the Soviet oil fields and, basically, won the war, or at least shortened it greatly. The Germans called the fighting there "rattenkrieg," or "rat warfare," because it involved a lot of scurrying around in the rubble, sniping at each other.

I've just had the weekend from hell, much of which centers around... rattenkrieg. Nowhere near Stalingrad levels, or importance to the world at large, but filled with manageable amounts of bloodshed and terror just the same.

See, there's an air conditioner unit behind my house, and it's got a bird feeder over it. The birds have been making nasty with their seeds, throwing them all over the ground, and that's attracted rats. They've been housing under the air conditioner unit, and this weekend I also noticed a horde of mice, running in and out of the upper story of the same unit. It was an all-singing, all-dancing cavalcade of shitting-pissing-fucking-gnawing-bubonic-bearing vermin.

And I'm way-way-chickenshit when it comes to rodents. Oh, I am a big ol' pussy. I'm almost as bad as the women in the Warner Brothers cartoons, jumping on chairs and screaming. It's not quite a phobia, but it's damn close. I'm not even crazy about the too-tame-for-my-taste squirrels we have locally. They don't fool me, they're just rats with a little more cute poured on 'em. Give them a chance, though, and they'll go for your eyes to gnaw their way to your delicious brain! You can tell in the way they look at you. With fear comes hatred, and I want all these critters dead.

So, the situation's been bugging me a little.

I couldn't just put out poison, because this air conditioner unit happens to be inside a dog pen, and I didn't want the dogs to get poisoned, either by eating the bait or by munching down on a poison-packed rat. Frankly, the dogs should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such encroachment on in their territory. My dogs have a history of being lovable but not very fierce; somebody tried to break into our house once and while I ran around the yard with a gun yelling scary stuff they didn't even bark, just watched, wagging their tails. Very helpful creatures. Too bad my sadistic cat, who thinks of nothing but killing all day long and is quite good at it, isn't allowed outside. He'd be servin' some warrants.

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to do about this vermin situation, although I knew I couldn't let it go on because the rodents would just breed and it'd get worse. For several weeks I've been limited to trying to pick the rats off with a pellet gun. I sent a few to Jesus, but it was just harassing, interdictory fire for the most part, nothing that was really going to fix the situation. There were always more showing up, doing their little "we're still here, dipshit!" dances and giving me the finger.

Well, this weekend was apparently a rodent mardi gras. Every time I looked out (and as neurotically obsessive as I am about these bastards, that was about every ten minutes) I'd see at least one rat or mouse, and sometimes three or four. The good thing about this heightened activity was that I also noticed where they were coming from: the rats had a hole to the crawlspace under the house where some ductwork went in, and the mice had a crack around the air conditioner unit. They weren't just living under the unit, after all... that was just a handy duck-in place.

This finally gave me a workable plan.

First, just to thin the herd, I set up a mousetrap on the air conditioner unit. That thing ended up looking like Robespierre's favorite guillotine. The mousetraps I bought are highly effective, but if they catch the mouse across the head there's gonna be blood everywhere. I'm talking last-reel-of-a-Fulci-movie gory, dripping, avulsed matter carnage. So that wasn't terribly fun to deal with, but it made the mice start laying low a little.

Then, for effect, I picked out a nice rat about the size of a small rabbit and hit him with the pellet gun. Zapruder'ed his head spectacularly all over his friends, which got them to stay in their holes for a while. While they were hiding, I quickly jammed a bunch of steel wool in every hole I could find, then squirted in foam sealant. (The steel wool keeps them from chewing their way back through; it stabs their little mouths if they try). I did a pretty sloppy job, and my backyard looks like the aftermath of a pie-fight, but I think they're damn well locked out of the dogpen.

Which means it's now safe to apply chemical warfare. So, rat poison has gone all up under the house. Smorgasbord, fellas! Have yourselves a Jonestown hoe-down, on me.

I'm hoping they'll go somewhere else to die (the poison's supposed to make them seek water), but as bad as those things may stink when they die, I'll gonna welcome it. I love the smell of dead rats in the morning... it smells like... victory.

Then everything will be fine, until the komodo dragons show up.


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