Rat Killing

A farm barn could be considered a heaven for rats.  We had a corncrib that always contained corn.  in the fall, at harvest time, it would be full.  Even in late summer there would be a minimum of fifty bushels.  In addition, upstairs we always had peanuts, dried peas, and hay.  If the rats tired of his corn diet, he could vary it with peanuts, peas, or maybe even a meal or two when he could gnaw into a sack of cow feed.

Farmers always try to control the rat population.  They have cats, set traps, and almost every corncrib contained one or more snakes (hopefully, non-poisonous).  In addition, rat poison was almost   always placed in strategic areas.  Despite the best efforts at control, the bar was large, the supply of food plentiful,  and the hay provided a huge area for hiding.  Over the years the number of rats increased.

In the early forties, our barn had been in place for a number of years.  It was late summer, and our supply of corn and hay was at its lowest point.  We decided to clean the barn and invite the neighbors to our house for a rat killing.  The men and boys of the area came armed with pitchforks and wooden paddles.  One man brought his rat terrier dog, who was a marvel at digging rats from their  hiding places.  All told, we had about ten men and boys surrounding the barn and anxious for action.

I was inside the barn in the crib, as we removed the corn and put it in sacks.  We cleaned areas where rats had been safe for years.  The noise and removal of their hiding places caused hundreds of rats to flee into the open, where many of them were met with pitchforks and clubs.  The rat terrier dog was sent under the crib where his actions caused dozens of additional rodents to flee.  We are not talking about mice, but huge rats, some of which were at least a foot long.  No actual count of the number killed was made, but there was a huge pile.  not only was the rat killing beneficial, it was also enjoyable lark for the participants.

Rat killings were not held often, but whenever one was advertised it attracted a crowd.

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