Okay, okay. I'll end your suspense over the two unaccounted pack rat deaths that I claimed in my last post.
Sometime in late January, I noticed that my John Deere tractor (which I had thought was safely housed in the barn adjacent to the donkey stall) seemed to be sprouting wisps of hay around it. Hay that I initially thought was just stray debris from carrying bales around it while feeding the donkeys. At one point, however, I chanced to lift the hood off the tractor and found the entire engine compartment stuffed with hay, and bits of donkey food, and rat droppings, and, most irritating of all, blocks of unchewed rat poison that I had placed in the barn this fall to guard against such an occurrence.
Further investigation revealed that there was a pack rat midden growing beneath a mower deck against the wall, and that my tractor was merely a forward position for the pack rat duo who had evidently made my barn their home. I also realized, as I began to clean out the engine, that a lot of wiring had been chewed bare by the pack rats in their quest for food. Revenge fueled by anger became my quest. If they wanted to be fed, then so be it. I banished the donkey's from the barn, sealed it, and placed out a more enticing table of D-Con pellets mixed with peanut butter. The initial offering, two entire trays of poison, disappeared in the first night. Three days later, no more food was disappearing. At that point, I celebrated my partial victory, kept the barn sealed (sorry, donkeys), and awaited warmer weather.
Recently, I reentered the battlefield, cleared all the debris from the tractor by hand, coated the bare wires with electrical tape, replaced several wiring connectors, and then, with a hose running nearby and several fire extinguishers at hand, I started the tractor quickly and moved it from the barn for a more further cleaning. Once the tractor was safe, albeit jury-rigged, I backed it into the barn and moved equipment around until I could lift the mower deck off the midden and destroy it. I found the pair of pack rats at the center, long dead, and I unceremoniously tossed them out into the prairie.
In retrospect, I should have recognized that something was out of hand when I first noticed these cute footprints in the dust on the seat of my tractor. The brazen little thieves obviously had no concerns about leaving evidence behind that would enable me to track their crime spree.
And, for those now wondering if it was wise for me to throw rat carcasses full of poison onto the prairie, you should know that I had no problems with pack rats in my tractor last year when I had two wonderful cats living in the barn during the winter. Two wonderful cats that were likely casualties of the coyotes that roam the prairie at night. The same coyotes that might just possibly chew on a rat carcass or two if they came across them. In unconditional war, one uses every weapon available to win.