11 October 2011

I was telling someone at work a story about my horse (probably about breaking my ankle falling off of her, that one is always good for a laugh) and it reminded me of this one.  I was in middle school and had a job feeding the other horses in the mornings.  I would ride my bike to the barn at the ass crack of dawn before school, looking like Super Janitor with all the keys to the tackrooms hanging off my belt, and feed about 15 horses  so the other owners didn't have to worry about getting mussed before work or school.  Then, I had to ride my bike home, shower, change, and get myself the 5 miles to school before the bell rang, but hey, I was making about 40 bucks a week and that was bank for an 8th grader in the early 80's, baby!

Like all large stables without in-house cats or dogs, we had a significant rat problem.  Stems from all that readily available grain. Despite using metal garbage cans to store it in, enough fell on the ground from either the humans being careless or the horses being sloppy to keep our rat population fat and sassy.  Now, when I say rat, I don't mean the kind you get at the pet store and keep at home as a companion, waiting for it to chew your head off.  I'm talking RATS.  Rats the size of small dogs.  Rats that would kick the shit out of a Chihuahua, and make a Pit Bull pause.  And these suckers had no fear.  If you came upon one, they'd look at you like, "What the hell do you want, bitch?"   The owners began leaving rat poison out in the tackrooms to try and reduce the number our disease carrying pets.  Rat poison in basically warfarin, which is a blood thinner, commonly known as Coumadin, and used in people with artificial heart valves.  The rats eat this tasty treat and, at some point, suffer catastrophic internal hemorrhaging.  Not a fun way to die, be ye man or beast.

So, here I am, one foggy morning, feeding the horses and in one of the stalls was a rat that was obviously in some distress.  Grossed out as I was, I knew I couldn't leave it in the stall where it might bite the several thousands of dollars worth of show horse in it's dying moments.  I grabbed an Apple Picker (wide, flat, non-sharp tined pitchfork used for cleaning stalls) and picked the poor rodent up and carried it to the manure pile, thereby saving the horse a bite and, well, what better cemetery for a large swamp rat?  As I was carrying it, I heard this scratchy, grinding sound.  I had no idea what it could be.  Until I tried to dump the rat off the fork and it held on, not only with it's front paws, but it also had a death (ha) grip on the tines with it's teeth. Gah..  Using my burgeoning critical thinking skills, I held the handle vertical and the rat slid off the tines onto the manure pile.  And started coming at me with what I could only imagine was blood lust in it's eyes.  Not wanting that thing anywhere near me, I picked it up with the fork again.  I also didn't want it to latch onto the tines again, so I started bouncing it up and down on the fork, so it couldn't get a grip.  My dilemma was now, "what to do with the little bastard?"  I started to get a little freaked out by this time, and decided to just bury it.  Yes, alive.  But it was barely alive, which is almost dead...so...there.  I flipped it one more time, and instead of catching it, let it fall onto the manure pile.  As it started coming toward me, I began to cover it with manure, thinking, wrongly as it turned out, that the weight of the manure would stop it in it's tracks.  No, this was the freaking Terminator of barn rats; it just kept coming at me.  I covered it with more manure and started beating the hell out of it until it stopped moving.  I don't know if the extra covering of manure was so it couldn't see what was coming or to protect my own sensibilities.

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