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Posts Tagged ‘Houdini’

As we left our soggy rodent friend yesterday he had just escaped a watery death at the hands of his arch nemesis (I always wanted to say that) and our hero Hubby.

Houdini had scurried around the rim of the stock tank – no easy feat in itself, narrowly missed being smacked by a wildly swung shovel, raced through the garden to a small opening in the garage and disappeared in the cool, dark shadows within.

No amount of cussing, screaming or digging through the accumulation of boxes, spare parts and who know what else was in the garage produced hide nor hair of the rodent. 

Houdini had vanished once again – and in the process, he had discovered a new and exciting kingdom.

This is the real Harry Houdini – what an inspiration to our rodent friend.

 

We neither saw Houdini nor any sign of him for a couple of weeks and probably would have forgotten all bout him – allowing him to live out his days in peace if it hadn’t been for Houdini’s bad habits. 

Suddenly, Grandpa’s car started having problems.  Nothing big – just little things like the heater had quit working and the lights on the dash weren’t quite right.  Could it be that Houdini hadn’t ridden off into the sunset like we had hoped.  Had he had moved into Grandpa’s car and begun feasting on the wiring?

Yep!

So one fateful day, Hubby and Grandpa decided it was time to fix the car.  We were well into fall and the cold days of winter weren’t far behind.  Grandpa would need the heater fixed.  They opened the hood of the big old 1974 Cadillac and stepped back in amazement – their jaws slack and agape.

It was a modern marvel of ingenuity – perhaps the 8th wonder of the world right here on our very own little ranch.  Houdini had created the first mobile compost heap in history! 

Being within easy access of Grandpa’s garden had, as it turned out, given our furry little rat a ready supply of veggies which he had carefully stored away for the winter.  Every nook and crannie of the huge V-8 engine compartment in Grandpa’s big old car was packed with a variety of veggies, baling twine, corn stalks and whatever else Houdini could lay his fuzzy little fingers on.  Empty squash and zucchini shells, rotting peppers, tomatoes  and old, moldy cabbage leaves were just a few of the veggies he chose to store away with an occassional bean or onion top thrown in for a well balance diet.  Believe it or not – everything Grandpa had tossed into his compost heap had found its way under the hood of his car.

I can only imagine how many trips to town Houdini and his rolling compost heap had made and how many veggies were now scattered on the side of the road – perhaps after first being shredded by the fan of the massive engine – a giant 8 valve food processor.  And just think of poor Houdini, if he had ridden along he had probably been a nervous wreck, watching his food so lovingly stored for the winter falling to the ground below with every pothole and washboardy stretch of gravel road shaking more of his precious cargo loose. 

Oh the horror of it!  The pain and anguish!!!

And as if that wasn’t bad enough – his stash had now been discovered by the two men on earth who hated him the most.

Amid more cussing (a lot of cussing), the remains of the rolling compost heap were removed from the engine and the chewed wiring was repaired. 

Rat poison and was spread throughout the garage along with the dreaded catch-em-alive trap and several rat-sized, spring-loaded, not quite what you’d call humane traps. 

War had been declared!

But Houdini wasn’t afraid, and he wasn’t a quitter!!!  I honestly don’t think he knew the meaning of the word.

Since things had become unbearable in the garage, Houdini packed his bags (figuratively speaking) and left – headed straight for his new life…

His life in the barn.

To be continued, again…

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A couple of years ago when our house looked like this:

We had a little problem with pack rats.

Actually the critters we have are called bushy-tailed wood rats.

Neotoma cinerea if you want to get all scientific.

They’re really kind of cute in a ‘ratish’ rodent type of way.  Full grown they are roughly the size of a small rabbit only with a long furry tail and cute little rat ears.

But do not be deceived by the adorable ears and fuzzy tails.  These are not the kind of creatures you would willingly invite into your home.  They chew on everything from food to furniture and they especially love wiring and plumbing.  They generally make a mess – not to mention the shock of coming face to face with one in your home!  I think I got about 147 grey hairs over a few weeks of construction – thank you very much.

As we started work on the house we were introduced to one particularly determined wood rat who eventually came to be known as Houdini.  We would see him as we worked on the old house.  He would show up at the most inopportune times and always when you didn’t have a weapon at hand to dispatch the furry little creature.  You’d move a piece of sheet rock or a box of nails and there he’d be.  You’d see him scurrying down the staircase or climb a ladder and he’d be there amongst the rafters to greet you.  He was everywhere!!! 

We tried to be humane – really we did.  We tried for several weeks to catch the little bugger in a catch-em-alive trap but Houdini had a way of springing the trap, eating the bait and disappearing all in a matter of seconds. 

He was good!

One day we saw him zip into the old hide-a-bed sofa that had been left in the house.  We quickly drug it out the door but once we opened it up Houdini was nowhere to be seen.  The same thing happened with an old cast iron wood stove.  It took four of us to haul it outside while holding boards over the openings just to find it was empty when we all collapsed outside.

Houdini was a master of escape but his days as master of our castle were numbered. 

After several alterations to the trap, my husband did finally catch him.  With his shiny little black eyes pleading to us through the fine mesh wire of the cage he faced his defeat. 

My husband didn’t want to shoot him, not because he had feelings for the rat – he didn’t want holes in his newly improved trap nor did he wish to risk Houdini’s escape by opening the cage to get a clear shot so after a fond farewell from me (OK – it wasn’t too fond) my husband hauled the trapped rodent down to the stock tank at Grandpa’s house where Houdini would meet his watery fate.

But don’t cry for Houdini yet!  The story didn’t end here.

As the cage sank into the slimy green depths of the stock tank the latch released allowing one of the doors to float up with the rising water.  Houdini, never one to pass up an opportunity, made quick work of this last-ditch shot at freedom.  He swam out the end of the cage and amid many shouted curses and a wildly swinging shovel that nearly ended it all, Houdini climbed to the lip of the tank and ran half-way around the edge, out of reach of the long-handled shovel. 

Hubby was no match for the soggy little rodent who was spurred on by a genuine fear for his life.  Houdini cleared the tank, shot between rows of tomatoes and onions in Grandpa’s garden and darted through a small hole in the back of the garage.

Hot on his trail, Hubby tore through the garage, throwing boxes and spare parts aside but the varmint had vanished once again.

Houdini had lived up to his namesake by making an amazing (and hair-raising) escape from the claws of deaths’ icy grip.

I hear you cheering out there. 

 I know – I wanted a happy ending too – and it could have been if Houdini had moved on.  

But he didn’t and unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the story…

To be continued…

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