Today after I got home from dropping the boys off I put James down for a nap and was looking forward to a couple of hours of free time to mess around in a quiet house and do as I pleased.
As usual, I was planning to do some modest kitchen straightening so that I didn't feel completely guilty about the time "wasted" doing nothing, drinking coffee, and staring off into space. I took the trash to the curb and patted myself on the back for taking care of it all by myself and then thought I'd take care of the bowl of compost on the kitchen counter too. Overloaded mixing bowl of scraps in hand, I lifted the lid to the compost bin only to see a GIANT FUZZY RAT crawling around inside.
Naturally I yelled "SHIT!" and threw the overloaded mixing bowl and its contents (banana peels, the guts of an acorn squash, coffee grounds) all over the ground.
Then I ran back inside and deadbolted the door. Just in case the rat was able to turn the handle and come find me, I wanted to be safe.
And then I got a snack and sat down at the computer. I wasn't sure what to do. Normally I would Facebook something like that, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to advertise to all of my friends (some of whom are local), that I had a rat habitat in my backyard.
Instead, I turned to Google, hoping for someplace I could lodge a complaint. After all, Google told me that if we didn't put meat or dairy in our compost bin, we shouldn't have an animal problem. Google was wrong. We only put vegetable and fruit scraps, teabags and coffee grounds in there. I can't be sure that there are no toys in there, or that no one has ever peed in there, but there are no meat scraps for sure.
I Googled "rat in compost bin" and clicked on the first disgusting link.
"Even if you don't have meat or dairy in your compost bin, chances are you will one day have a rodent problem. Here's how to get them to leave."
Google failed. BIG TIME. The article suggested keeping the compost moist (have not done), turning it frequently (also have not done), and frequently adding yard waste on top of the food (also have not done because we have no yard waste because we now live in the Chihuahuan Desert).
What we have done, apparently, is known as setting up a rat Golden Corral in our backyard.
The article went on to say that it was important to keep rats out of your compost bin because they can spread diseases and multiply very quickly, a fact that was not lost on me because Ryan and I watched this Nova several months ago. Several rounds of shock therapy later I am once again able to sleep with the lights off.
I decided that I wasn't willing to leave the situation as it was for the babysitter to handle this afternoon, which meant I had to take care of it myself. Google told me rats like it when the food is easy to find, so I got a huge bag of top soil out of the garage and lugged it out to the back yard. I ripped it open and hoisted it up, ready to dump it in, then opened the lid wide with my foot.
I didn't see it at first but as I began dumping the dirt over the food scraps the little bastard JUMPED OUT OF THE COMPOST BIN. He landed on the fence as I ran away screaming obscenities and shrieking like a little girl. There may have been some hand flapping.
After it had safely run the length of our fence and disappeared into our neighbor's yard I finished dumping the dirt in. And then I returned with a pitcher of boiling water for good measure. And then I called Ryan so he could tell me how brave I am and maybe bring me a special treat when he comes home from work.