Obviously, my father was a headstrong man. He didn’t follow the rules even if he was aware that rules existed. When we first moved up to Black Mountain, the little brown house we lived in was in an HOA. Now that I work in the industry, I can’t imagine how many fines my father must have racked up for the poor owner in the year that we were there. Surprisingly enough, he rented to us again after a couple of years… in the SAME community.
The brown house had this nice back porch that had warm Southern exposure. You could stand on our deck and look out over the mountains. We had a humming bird feeder and a regular bird feeder as well. Only as the days went on, the bird seed in the yard below the deck started to attract some unwanted neighbors.
These rats were pretty big. Not the giant sewer rats from New York, but definitely their second cousins. They would come out in the afternoons and raid any birdseed that had fallen through the day. My brother John lived up the hill from us at this time. He and my dad put their heads together and decided to come up with a solution.
John would come over in the evenings with his .22 rifle and take pot shots at the rats. He did this for a week and took out quite a few of them. He’d shoot the rat and my dad would go down and toss it beyond the bushes. There seemed to be a never ending supply of them though, and it wasn’t doing the job fast enough.
So Old Red Socks, after having a few beers, came up with the best way to get rid of them all at once. He got up early one morning and drove down to the gas station. He returned with a couple of five gallon jugs of kerosine. – I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.-
The rats lived in the bushes that grew over the fence. The barbed wire fence kept our community separated from the pasteuer beyond. The fact that this fence didn’t belong to my dad (nor the bushes) meant anything to him as he liberally doused them all with the kerosine. John came down and we were all outside as dad lit the fire.
The flames easily reached ten feet at times as dad threw more kerosine onto the already burning fire. I went without eyebrows for a good month afterward. It’s hard to say what my neighbors thought, though one of them obviously called the fire department because eventually they came along.
My mom brought me inside as they took care of the burn with my dad. In the chaos of the day, nestled by the steps of the deck, I found 2 adorable field mice taking cover from the fire. I quickly grabbed my bug cage and picked them up. I wanted to save them. To my heartbreaking dismay, they ended up suffering too much smoke inhalation and they died before the day was out.
It may have been unorthodox and illegal… but we didn’t have any more problems with the rats after that. The barbed wire fence held up pretty well all things considered. It didn’t have to get replaced and the bushes died out, leaving an even nicer open view beyond the deck.