Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Unwanted visitors - real life on a smallholding

I thought I would give you guys a smallholding reality post.  Life isn't as always rosy as people assume.

There's a pandemic on and no one told the local rats.   Yes, rats.  Horrible, dirty, nasty things.  The only animal I would not waste time being upset over its loss!  I do have my reasons for such strong opinions.  Over the 4 plus years we have lived here, they have caused us untold hassle.  We have lost both feed, eggs and animals to them.  The feed can be replaced but the animals not so easily.  The critters tend to pick on the smaller animals and this time it is the quail. 

We've recently lost 8 of the quail in an overnight attack.  The quail live in the greenhouse frame that is covered in mesh.  We have secured the frame to the ground and bricked around the edges to try and prevent anything digging under it.  

The rats took on the challenge and not only buried under the greenhouse but also the bricks.  They can dig as well as any mole!

For now we have moved the quail back in to the nursery which has the high rise, "rat proof" cages until we figure out how to get around this.  We don't like them living in there, we prefer them outside.  This Sunday we will try and secure it a little better.  Maybe mesh the floor inside the frame to prevent them coming up if they dig underneath.


So yes, smallholding life isn't always easy and unexpected loss of our animals happens when you least expect it.  I hope this helps some people who may be looking to move to a smallholding or raise animals, to understand there's the good and the bad days.  By far, the good outweigh the bad, so don't let this post do anything other than raise awareness :)

Take care everyone, Tracy.


  1. How horrible for you!

    There are some animals and insects that I feel are just plain nuisances with nothing good about them - rats, wasps and 8-legged things amongst them.

  2. That's such a shame, I can understand how you feel.

  3. We have problems with rats wanting to eat our hens' food. Sometimes I think we are running a rat restaurant! I have two cats now and the rat problems have diminished quite a lot. I lost four young bantams to rats who dug their way under a great amount of deeply embedded wire to get at them.

  4. Rats are nasty little creatures but unfortunately they are everywhere. I have seen signs in my Middlesbrough garden a few times. I wonder if you buried the wire mesh outside the quail pain. Angle it down and away underground rather than towards the inside.

  5. We get rats coming through from next door, we can't find their nest as our neighbour won't let anyone on their property, luckily they are only at the bottom of the garden. We have changed our bird feeders and no longer give them seeds, sunflower hearts are now in every feeder, they don't drop to the ground and the poles are treated to stop the rats climbing. We do put special poison traps down, they don't allow hedgehogs to get in, the rats then go away, but our cat alerts us to when they are back in our garden. I hate the too, love to see the tiny mice around our garden.

  6. I hate rats too, but fortunately only get the occasional dead one the cats have caught - living next door to a farm, there are obviously a fair few over the garden wall. When we moved in though, we were mystified by the tin can lids nailed onto the skirting boards - and then we twigged. Fortunately once we had cats here, all rodent activity ended!

    I hope you can keep the remaining quail safe now.

  7. Cats might solve your problem. While they too would be tempted by chicks it is a lot easier to cat proof a run than rat proof it. We had cats and hens for many years and the occasional brood of chicks and the rats were never a problem. Also cats deter foxes (we had those around too) because foxes can't afford to be damaged by a cat.

  8. Some great comments there everyone, it seems we have a common issue!! Never heard of the tin can lids on skirting boards! Our neighbours have 5 cats between them and they think our house is theirs I am sure! Still doesn't keep the rat population down though :(


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