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Old October 15, 2017   #1
bower
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Default Worst advice ever.... RATS!!!

This past spring I was the lucky recipient of a pickup load of horse manure that was not rotted enough to use - it was full of clumps of grassy bedding. A friend advised to do as he does - cover it with a tarp and let the summer heat rot the weed seeds and grass. And that is what I did.

This morning I pulled off the tarp to start shovelling this material into the garlic beds.
THREE startled rats leaped out and ran away. A fourth sat peeping at me from a hole. There are several holes visible in the little mound of nicely rotted material which is nothing more nor less than a RAT HOTEL.
I spotted rats twice this summer in the garden and wondered why they are staying around. I stopped putting eggshells in the compost, then stopped composting at all put scraps in the garbage instead. I thought it was my fault for growing tomatoes. I dragged my old tomato plants way off into the woods instead of building a proper compost with them. I thought I will have to stop trying to grow more veggies because it is attracting these pests. And maybe those thoughts have some truth, but NOTHING compares to making a manure hotel for them.
So now before I can put the manure to use, I will have to drive the rats out of it.
Just absolutely thrilled with this prospect.
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Old October 15, 2017   #2
MissS
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Bower I am so sorry to hear this. Rats can become a huge problem in a short time. Many people would try to control their numbers before they tried to run them off.
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Old October 15, 2017   #3
Worth1
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Do fat country rats bother you that much?
Here is what you did.
You created the best warm place for rats in the winter and on top of that a food source, the seeds in the manure.
You might even call it the Rat Radisson.

Just the other day at the office I never go to a woman came in and asked a man to remove a dead roach from her office.
There is no way I am going to remove a dead roach for anyone, they can do it themselves.
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Old October 15, 2017   #4
bower
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Yes indeed. Deluxe Ratisson Hotel I made. Warm as toast and riddled with food. And right near to my house as well.
Nice thought Miss S, I did worry 'where will they run to', but there is no way I'm letting them set in that pile any longer or try to 'reduce their numbers' myself. I am not cut out for the business of killing vermin or of instigating a long and endless war between me and them. As the fellow who gave me the advice about the tarp, so happens to be still engaged in a decades long war with the rats. If he expected a nest in the pile he certainly didn't say so, or if he has seen such nests it may not have occurred to him that it is a primo way to create a rat problem and a bad practice for that reason.
In any case it is true, there are fat country rats around wherever there's any serious attempt to grow food. The closer you are to water, the better they like it. There are plenty of ditches and marshes in the area, a river also, but these features are far enough from my house to make it less appealing as a place to nest. Or so I thought.
There has been a huge amount of construction on the hillside above the river, and a swath of forest now is housing. Dunno if that displaced some country rats or attracted them.

I took a long pole and poked and broke away the holes in the pile and have now seen a total of ten animals leaving the pile. The smallest were no bigger than mice, the largest one the size of a cat and a medium brown color while all the lesser and small sized ones were grey.
I will have to be on my game and make sure I have routed them out of the area and not taking up residence somewhere else on my property.
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Old October 15, 2017   #5
Labradors2
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Oh no Bower! So sorry to hear about the Rat Radisson (good one Worth) .

Do you know anyone with a Jack Russell Terrier that you could borrow for a while? They are excellent ratters I hear. Wish you lived closer as I have a friend who would be delighted to lend you hers for some fun exercise.

Guess you need to toss the horse manure in the woods along with the discarded tomato debris It might help it to degrade faster. Ugh!

Hang in there!
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Old October 15, 2017   #6
ddsack
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I probably would blame the tarp, not the manure! It provided a rainproof cover for them to set up housekeeping. Without it, the manure pile would have just sat open to the elements like any other mulch pile. I suppose rats will be attracted to undigested oats and corn kernels passing through the horse gut, or oats left attached on bedding straw.

I wonder if using clear plastic instead of an opaque tarp would have made any difference? If it was in full sun, it might have heated up the pile to the point of discomfort? In shade it would not have made any difference.
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Old October 15, 2017   #7
AlittleSalt
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I can send you some cats.

Our cats have a sudden fascination with our barns because the mice and rats are getting ready for winter.
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Old October 15, 2017   #8
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlittleSalt View Post
I can send you some cats.

Our cats have a sudden fascination with our barns because the mice and rats are getting ready for winter.
Bring em on!!
And Linda, my thoughts as well... the right dog would be a very welcome guest!!!

Last edited by bower; October 15, 2017 at 11:58 AM. Reason: add
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Old October 15, 2017   #9
bower
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Dee, very interesting thought about using clear plastic instead.
Could of course end up with a "Rodent Observatory" or "Rattarium"
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Old October 15, 2017   #10
ddsack
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Or a solarium for them to work on their tans in!
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Old October 15, 2017   #11
Worth1
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It's called an atrium or rattrium I'll have you know.
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Old October 15, 2017   #12
ChiliPeppa
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Wow, sorry to hear this. There is no need to cover a horse manure pile (unless you get horrendously high winds), it will heat up very well on its own. If the the air moisture is very low then you can spray it a tiny bit with the hose. But manure piles (unless you are in the desert like me) heat up and rot quickly without any help. You can even see steam rising from it on a cool morning. If you have chickens they do a great job of getting rid of bugs, weed seeds and anything that would dare to sprout. At least this has been my experience with decades of horse manure.
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Old October 15, 2017   #13
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiliPeppa View Post
Wow, sorry to hear this. There is no need to cover a horse manure pile (unless you get horrendously high winds), it will heat up very well on its own. If the the air moisture is very low then you can spray it a tiny bit with the hose. But manure piles (unless you are in the desert like me) heat up and rot quickly without any help. You can even see steam rising from it on a cool morning. If you have chickens they do a great job of getting rid of bugs, weed seeds and anything that would dare to sprout. At least this has been my experience with decades of horse manure.
So true! I think the judgement is unanimous... the tarp is to blame, not the manure.
I doubt the rats will return to try to live in that nest, now that the tarp is off.
Project 'move the manure' will happen in the near future, anyway.
Dang I never hope to see another rat.
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Old October 15, 2017   #14
MikeInCypress
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Just remember Farm Rats are just Squirrels with Bald Tails!!!!!!!

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Old October 15, 2017   #15
bower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeInCypress View Post
Just remember Farm Rats are just Squirrels with Bald Tails!!!!!!!

MikeInCypress
Aw Mike you had to mention Squirrel, now Worth is all about cooking it up.
Too bad Worth, I will not be getting close enough to any rat dead or alive, to ship it to you for your next meal.

But if you want to grow yourself some for your cheap eaten, you know what to do. All it takes is a manure pile and a tarp.
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