When I was four or five years old, the Curse of the Kazoo was cast upon me. Here is how it happened: Along with my three siblings–Deb, Tim and Lin–I sat like a quiet little angel in the back seat of my parents’ baby blue woody station wagon waiting for my mom to return to the car from whatever errand she was immersed in. When she finally appeared, she placed four oblong kraft paper-wrapped packages in our greedy little crumb-snatching hands. The brown paper crinkled beneath my fingertips as I felt around the wrinkled edges like a scavenger discovering an unexpected morsel of food. Everyone else managed to open theirs before me, revealing bright, shiny gold-tinged vessels with bold blue and red piping on the glossy surface of each item. Whatever were they? Kazoos! And as I listened to the badly tuned squeaks and snorts and hums around me, well, I just couldn’t WAIT to release my own shiny treasure. Ahhh, there it was: perfect in all its metallic glory. I raised it to my lips and carefully prepared my vocal chords for the perfect song that would soon be recognized by a nearby music producer and earn me a Hollywood red carpet appearance with various music industry awards. Blew into the end of it. Nothing. Turned it around. Blew in the other side. Nothing. Just the rattling flip-flip-flip of a tiny piece of paper in the round section on top. As I looked around at my siblings’ pieces, were theirs exhibiting any of this flap-flap-flapping? Nope. Just mine. It didn’t work. It was a dud.
To this day, I call that the start of the Curse of the Kazoo, or simply, “The Kazoo.” It has woven its way through much of my life, afflicting even the simplest purchases with unknown maladies that render them unworkable. New computer? Something’s wrong with the hard drive. Pick up a new coffee maker at Target? Doesn’t work. Even a stainless steel garbage can for my kitchen? Toe step won’t work, lid won’t lift. And believe me, this is a very, very short list of the items that have been cursed by the Kazoo. I have learned that when shopping for anything new to have my shopping accomplice choose the item off the shelf for me–this seems to thwart many of the Kazoo instances.
Here is why I tell you this: my rat traps have been bewitched by the Kazoo, as well. Remember my [too-long-ago] blog about rats? Well, I had a wonderful chat with an expert on invasive species and pests around the home, and she carefully and sympathetically convinced me of the merit of ridding my yard of rats. They are invasive; non-native. They are destructive. They raid our native bird nests of their eggs, depleting the dwindling populations of many species of birds in the area. Okay, okay, okay. I got it. So I set out to purchase the first trap, as you [if you’ve read my previous blogs] know: the forty-dollar electronic zapping machine that was supposed to “quickly and humanely kill any rat that steps into its interior.” And all I killed were two cockroaches. Kazoo? One wonders. So after chucking that in the garbage and speaking with my new best friend at USF about the validity of rat extermination, I purchased the traditional rat traps–you know, the ones with the swinging bar that activates once the rat presses on the indicator tab (usually due to a tasty morsel of peanut butter). I set two traps, carefully positioning them under a narrow cement block so that other innocent creatures wouldn’t be able to access it, and waited. Day one: one dead rat. I sadly discarded it in the trash and reset the traps the next night thinking, “only 16-24 more nights to go…”
The next day, no rats. Day after that, no rats. So I deactivated the traps and left them with peanut butter for a few nights in an attempt to reassure the poor little rodents that it was safe to partake of the delectable sticky treat. Few days later, set the traps again, annnnnd…nothing. I swear the rats saw their buddy killed on night one and in their rat-like intelligence, decided to stay away from these foreign objects. Or, perhaps, JUST perhaps, can you say Kazoo?
Day ten: Trap number one activated, steel bar clearly set off by the tiny tongue of a rodent (and who got a nice meal, by the way, since the entire splot of peanut butter was licked clean), but no dead rat. Trap number two? Gone. Gone, I tell ya! I had several moments of supreme guilt, wondering what creature had dragged that away on its poor paw. Hoping, praying that that wasn’t the case. Knowing that the Kazoo had gotten the best of me again.
Day 11: Set the one remaining trap in my dwindling inventory that seemed like it still functioned properly. TRIED to set it, I mean. After almost losing my fingers twice–and losing my hearing for about ten seconds after each THWAP!!!! of the steel bar–I chucked that piece of you-know-what in the garbage and went to Ace Hardware for a new kill mechanism. I was directed to the pest control department and educated on the various options for rat killing that entailed the use of poison bait. Found a unique little vessel that purported to keep the bait fully enclosed and only give the rats access through a small doorway. They entered and exited through there, leaving the bait pillars in place, unable to carry poison out into the world for consumption by some unsuspecting creatures in the vicinity. I almost bought it on the spot, but asked the young gent if there was bait inside already, or if I needed to purchase it separately. He ASSURED me the bat comes with it. With the fresh sting of the last Kazoo instance still ringing in my ears, I asked him to open the box. No bait. Got any bait here? I asked him. Nope. No bait. Oops, sorry. So I left.
Day 15: Stopped at another Ace Hardware on some errands and found the same trap AND bait. Plunked down $14.78 and returned home to commence the killing.
Day 20: No rats. I went outside last night just after dark–when the rats seemed to converge upon the hens’ mesh run–and…. not a single rat.
It makes me sad to have resorted to the use of poison bait. As anyone who knows me will attest, I do not like killing ANYTHING. And I certainly don’t like my actions to cause other unnecessary deaths–the hungry hawk who eats the poisoned rat, for instance. I can only hope and pray that the rats filled their little bellies with delicious peanut-butter-flavored bait and went somewhere nice (not my attic) to take a peaceful, final nap. Yes, that is what I choose to believe.
Now that the colony (colonies?) of rats are no longer congregating around my hens, I have removed the poison killing box and replaced it with a small “lick” bait trap that is tucked safely into the rear of my garage for any new families of rats who choose to call my yard home. I know they won’t stop coming, but I hope the problem is managed now. Sad, sad, sad. But the hens are safe.
What else is going on with the hens right now?
- The girls were the proud recipients of a new Flock Block yesterday–a 12″ x 12″ cube of solid deliciousness: molasses, grains, corn and various other “binding” agents that chickens love to peck at.
- Marge is still molting; hasn’t laid an egg in more than two months. C’mon, Marge! Get off the molting wagon; we need those eggs!
- Trimmed their wings the other night, guided by my wonderful friends and chicken mentors. Waited ’til the girls went to roost for the night (the books say this is a very drowsy time for chickens–they become almost trance-like and are unaware of almost everything), then one at a time, brought ’em out and trimmed the lower level of flight feathers. Painless for them, by the way — like trimming our fingernails. This will remove some of the temptation to exit their free-range area fence line that I’ve set up.