Which, being an optimist, I like to think is better than having seven rats.
Here's our latest acquisition.
The story is, we were working out in our vegetable garden Sunday. (For you Americans, I know "garden" already means "vegetable garden," but for the sake of the Africans/Europeans/etc., we have to specify this.) Now, I love our garden, and having a beautiful garden area was one of the main reasons I fell in love with this house. But gardens come with an unfortunate feature, weeds. This could have a been a manageable phenomenon, but due to circumstances beyond our control (traveling quite a bit, and other things I'll mention sometime), our veggies have been sadly neglected this summer. The garden has bravely fought back and produced an admirable amount of delightful food, but finally the weeds were getting so tall they were going to seed. It was getting difficult to find the food nestled in their depths.
It was time. We vowed to devote Sunday morning to beating back the invaders.
We were blessed by two wonderful surprises: first, our dear friends Zeke Vasquez and Thomas Beihl offered to come help us, and second, the Klingbeil family offered to come help the same morning! We were delighted.
So we launched the assault. It was a huge success! But after an hour of digging, plucking and ripping out what seemed to be miles of weeds (specifically morning glory vines that had taken over the watermelon patch and suffocated everything else), Zeke called to me that something was squeaking under the weeds. With a little effort we located the source of the protests--a nest of pinkish-gray baby rodents!
We guessed at their identity for a little while (moles? mice?) before I saw the mother's head dart out of the weeds. A rat! Argh!
Squealing babies were strewn around under the weeds, but we eventually located six babies (and later a seventh). Mommy Rat amazed us with her courage by coming out from under the weeds, despite the herd of six human children and a few adults scattered a few feet away. She marched across the bare ground and picked up her children, one after another, five times. Marveling at her chutzpah, we let her do her job. (And now we have seven rats somewhere in our back yard. But we're not thinking about that. Well, actually, we are. What were we thinking?! We DO have seven rats! All outside waiting to invade our walls this fall!)
Her mothering instincts were sharp, but apparently other instincts weren't as well-honed, because when she came back for her sixth child, she looked around and wasn't able to locate it. (This was primarily because she was standing on it both times.) Eventually she gave up and disappeared. We found another hapless guy under the bushes soon after, but both were left in the abandoned nest in vain. Either Mom never finished first grade math, or she figured five kids were enough.
And we acquired a rat.
In case you can't tell from the picture, said rat is currently the size of my thumb, from the knuckle up only (plus a tail). What you also can't see is that she has a voracious appetite and is getting me up twice a night to eat.
The rat adoption was met by varying degrees of enthusiasm. Needless to say, the kids were thrilled, and all clamored to hold her. Daddy was less warm in his welcome, though (generous as we are) the kids and I allowed him the glorious privilege of naming her. After several of his thoughtful suggestions,
At least, for now.
And no, you're not the only one questioning my sanity. I am myself. Regularly. Especially at 1 am when I am crawling out of bed to feed a rat.
I never thought I'd own a rat. Especially not such an adorable one.