It’s been a long time since my last confession, and this one’s a doozy. I’m a murderer. Of rats. Given my love of backyard chickens, rats discovered a prime feeding ground of grain and sunflower seeds and grew a rat colony under our house, in the toolshed. Given that the toolshed is attached to the house and that the chicken coop is conveniently situated right next to the house (only place for it), rats took to our grain supplies with joy and a desire to grow their family. I was ok with just a couple of rats – at the time I didn’t know if they were Australian Bush Rats, or some other native animal, but recently the merry squawking, night time raid incursions and dog agitators just got too much. It was also the smell of rat doo doo wafting into the house that sent me over the edge. We tried humane methods of rat removal but this proved totally unsuccessful, as the rats laughed at our pathetic attempts to set traps and refused to politely enter them for humane removal to the local creek, where pythons would have enjoyed the free meal. Anyway, given the large family group that was fast developing into a township, I saw no alternative. I called the pest people.
I’m impressed with the speed with which our Norwegian Rattus Rattus colony was despatched, but I am suffering psychic trauma from literally walking on the rats AS THEY LAY DYING IN PLAIN SIGHT, and having to collect them for disposal. We have collected 27 dead rats to date – 4 large ones, and all their children. Now, given that we live in a hot and humid climate, there has been a bit of a smell situation emerging as sometimes we were unable to locate some of the dead rats fast enough, and we’ve encountered a few little smell bombs behind shelves and under boxes. We’ve also had a couple of moments when the doggoes have thoughtfully brought said dead rats INTO THE HOUSE FOR EATING PURPOSES. The poison used for the rats CAN kill other creatures if consumed in large enough quantities, so it is fair to say this situation was not ideal. Happily, the dogs have not eaten the dead rats, preferring instead to roll in their rotting carcasses or to present them as a gift for me. Thanks, doggoes. Suffice to say, the rats are now no longer a problem this year, although I suspect we will have to maintain the poison traps for the forseeable future, given that I like my chickens. I will suffer the karmic consequences for sure.
In other news, we’ve had some interesting scenarios with the new front garden beds. Initially the plants grow like topsy, then, without warning, some of them die. This is even when there is plenty of water, so I’m a bit confused as to why they just top themselves – one particularly egregious example was a crazily thriving rosella hibiscus, beautiful fruit and everything, that one day just keeled over and died. Still, some plants have survived ok, including a warm climate nectarine, a lime tree, and some silver dichondra. My hibiscus has survived total neglect although other bushes probably need a good cut back and some feeding, such as some rather ratty looking coleus plants. I’m particularly pleased with my two passion fruit vines. They have grown like crazy on the perfect hot, sunny wall and there must be 50 flowers on there now. I’ve been watching the four fruits that have so far appeared on the vines – no animal has gotten to them yet, but I imagine it will be fisticuffs for the fruit between me, the fruit bats and the possums. I don’t really mind as long as they don’t eat the flowers and give the fruit a fighting chance to grow! I don’t water my plants very regularly, but there has been enough rain over the last few months that I haven’t needed to. I’m not much of a gardener, and frankly, I’m of the opinion that if it survives its first year, it’s going to survive in the long run. This is not to say that this will occur for vegetable plants. I’m aware they need love and attention, but surely my perennial herbs should survive! But no, they get eaten by animals, or they die off unexpectedly.
We’re nearly back full time at work since our leisurely holiday series, which included a few days in Melbourne at Xmas with the fam, and show time in Sydney. Our weekends tend to be quite full with activities and it’s easy to neglect the garden, but after a year it’s still looking mostly healthy out the back, with only three plants dying overall. My mum, who’s a keen gardener, says there’s always a 10% die off of plants in the first year, so our record is pretty good. It’s time for a solid weed and feed for all the tropical plants, and I’ll get to them in the next few days.
So, no photos of the garden this time but I’ll take a few (not of the dead rat count) to post in the next few days, now that the chook fence is up and working well. There’s not much more to share, except that plans for the renovations are travelling well and we should be able to start the work in the next few months, depending on supply chain and workforce availability. Below are the images I’m loving of our new kitchen, bathroom and back deck, which are part of phase 1 work. The first image is the current kitchen. Serviceable – sort of – but with an unworkable pantry, a mostly dead oven and stove, and nowhere to put the microwave. The next images are of the new and vastly improved kitchen with my beloved Falcon range and a really lovely neutral palette in case I want a new colour scheme (the kitchen and dining room are currently multicoloured, but the lounge room is green – I might change this at some stage to blue, because I can).
The next images are of the new family bathroom (guest bathroom, really), which is going to be loud and obnoxious because I want it to be a talking point. Don’t mind the repeating patterns – the green tiles will look a lot more natural and earthy than that as they are Zellige tiles, and I’m loving the pink terrazzo but I’m sure it’s crazy expensive and I’ll be happy with an earthier version in tans and terracotta on a cream base. The old bathroom looks fine but is not.
Finally: an image of the new deck, with the old for reference:
I’m really excited about the deck as I want to be able to work outside and lounge about, which is somewhat difficult at the moment as the current deck is not insulated against the heat, so cannot be used in the middle of the day. The new deck will also be accessible from our bedroom, which is probably the most exciting bit of all. We’ll have French doors to the deck from our room, and I’ve asked for louvre windows as they enable good airflow but this might change depending on availability of products and if my designer persuades me to change that design. Super exciting.