The Battle for Chico

I get up early because it takes me so long to wake up. I can’t even imagine jumping up half hour before start time, jamming through the shower and the dressing, eating what? I need my morning. I really like to get as much as I can out of morning.

Today I woke up at 5 am to the sound of Badges barking his alarm. Wednesday and Thursday nights my neighborhood puts out their garbage cans for collection, and as you’d guess, the rats are extra active. I’ve seen them running along phone lines, scurrying across fence tops, and kibitzing on garbage can lids. Every year we have a few of them that try to move in to one of our sheds, and there was a very aggressive fellow who wanted into our garage. He’d just wait along the driveway and run in when we opened the door. After a few good chases, we finally cornered him – what a pack of savages we were, a lacrosse stick, a broom, and then the dogs got the poor little bastard. Yeeeeecccchhh!

We put out traps – best bait, a peanut butter covered raisin. You stick that raisin on there good, and then you smear on the tiniest bit of peanut butter – drives ’em crazy. We place them on fence posts, or on the high shelf of our little lawnmower shed, where the dogs can’t get at them. One night we were just going back in the house when we heard a loud “WHACK!” and the clattering of planter pots in the shed, and Whoa Nelly, we got a big one that night. 

I had a tenant once whose parents are landlords in Woodland. He called his dad The Rat Man. It just gets compulsive when you are responsible for other people’s living space – you buy traps whenever you see them for a good price (would you believe Safeway sometimes has a real good price on good rat traps), and you are never caught without a box of raisins and a jar of peanut butter. I don’t like my husband using my good peanut butter, so I bought him a jar of cheap crap.

Right now it seems they are running all over our neighborhood. I imagine they are looking for water as much as food. That’s why it’s good to have dogs, they don’t like rats. Badges barks like crazy – Biscuit, she’s the silent killer, like my old boxer Venus, she stalks quietly along the fence while her partner barks his head off. 

And so, I was outside this morning to see the Hunter mount the sky, in all his sparkling glory, every star visible  because the moon has gone down. But when I went into the house for coffee, clouds rolled in. 

I don't know if my camera can catch the incredible purple that I saw in the sky this morning.

I don’t know if my camera can catch the incredible purple that I saw in the sky this morning.

It's hard to capture the glory of nature in a little camera.

It’s hard to capture the glory of nature in a little camera.

But I keep trying.

But I keep trying.


I know that if you were too busy to go outside and look up this morning, you missed this. I like to share.

There’s the sun, another morning off and running. I know that if you were too busy to go outside and look up this morning, you missed this. I like to share.

This morning we are off to cut brush in the hills. We help our friends fire-safe their property and they give us the chips that are left over when the chipper crews come in for the brush we cut.   I have been whacking and stacking until my arms are numb. When we were leaving the other day Biscuit charged a little shed and my husband cried out, “there he is!” A big ass rattler was coiled up next to the shed and shaking his rattle like he really meant it. We had thought there was something funny about that shed, she’d been nosing it all morning. (!) The folks up there have been killing a lot of big rattlers lately, and a couple of dogs have been bit. They’d been saved but not for less than $1,000. Our dogs have had their snake shots, but it’s still bad. That motherfucker could have killed my Badges, I don’t mess around.  The idea that my kids would encounter this fellow when they are  out wandering  their little trails around the yard makes my hair stand on end. 

We got the dogs in the car and went to work on that sunnuvabich. He was standing his ground, but he didn’t have any property tax receipts, so we picked up a couple of big rocks and let him have it. Hit him dead on, but he was still coiling for more. So, my husband grabbed our pole saw and got a hold of him in the middle, boy was he fighting. I held that pole saw, and it was all I could do to keep him.  My husband picked up a log that had been acting as a retaining wall on a little trail, and he walloped that snake until that 6 foot section of pine was falling apart. But the mouth just kept moving. 

I hate to kill living things, but I won’t stand for a rattler who moves into people space. They’re not stupid, they know where people are. This was a 10 year old, three foot long rattlesnake, they don’t get that big being stupid. So, I made my peace with that bastard before I dug that saw into his guts and he stopped moving those jaws. I don’t think I’d stand that much chance if he’d got me in the back of the leg. 

I feel the same way toward people who try to interlope in my life. Chico is full of interlopers, people who want to get their snout in our pie here. This election coming up is going to be The Battle for Chico. If you see a snake or a rat, let them have it. 


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