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Gay Times January 08 - Issue 352

Eco Boy Rats and Ruts

Words by Jon Stocks

We’ve got problems (haven’t we all?). Rats are high on our list; they’re building themselves an empire here based on the plentiful supply of food around our chicken shed. Eradication is not realistic; rats are far too clever. These resourceful rodents can take the cheese from the trap without springing it. They’re cheeky, too. I have stood over their hole, have them come out and look me in the eye, clock the fence between us and scamper off on their ratty business defiantly. I kind of respect this attitude but not the damage they’re causing, gnawing into the henhouse. We’ve tried blocking the holes in the house with chicken wire, but they gnaw new ones and we’ve used all sorts of bait on the traps (Rolos and parmesan cheese most successfully) but they rarely catch one.
The big problem of the month, though, is easier to get rid of. It’s a rut. Ruts, those treadmills that turn unquestioned, are easy to slip into. The problem with ruts is the not doing. For us, the issue of not putting enough effort into finding suitable new residents and associated financial investment is worrying. It’s essential if our project is to succeed long-term. In my case, I haven’t created a workspace for massage to enable me develop an on-site business so I don’t have to keep travelling for work. We were so glad to arrive here following months of searching, preparation of business plans and other essential nitty gritty stuff that we’ve thrown ourselves into the enjoyable daily tasks of living here at the expense of these fundamental tasks.
It was visitors to the farm (offering a fresh, detached perspective) who saw that action was required. I believe strongly that having faith in one’s endeavours and visualising the result you want is important in being successful, but doing something is also essential! Our inaction in attracting new residents has led to an unspoken niggling worry that’s slowly dampened the atmosphere and affected all of us. As soon as we recognised this, we thanked our visitors for pointing it out and met the next day. We revised our strategy for attracting residents; one member placed adverts in three national magazines, and I wrote a new introductory letter for any respondents. As the proverb goes – action is worry’s worst enemy. It’s changed the mood of the community, and has resulted in a renewed vigour in all aspects of our routines. To address my personal stagnation, I brainstormed possibilities of creating a therapy space. I came up with two solutions: creating a new room inside our existing communal hall, and purchasing a second-hand cedarwood holiday chalet and adapting it to my requirements. I’m excited and have renewed vigour.
On the whole, though, things have been going well. Last month’s fencing jobs are now being put to the test as we’ve moved our swine to their new enclosure. The expression ‘happy as a pig in shit’ is truly misleading; these animals enjoy personal cleanliness and defaecate in defined areas only. The saying should be ‘as happy as a pig in a new field’, as I’ve been watching them galloping joyously around their new home, then stopping to bury their snouts in the ground before lifting up a sod to chew on.
I’ve been busy improving my caravan by adding a porch to it. This has involved repositioning my unconventional, unwieldy eco-fridge to a pedestal outside my bathroom window, through which I can easily reach out and grab the milk or a nice cold beer. It works by evaporation, one pot inside another, and the gap between the two is filled with sand that must be kept damp. Water evaporating from the sand takes heat with it and, hey presto, the inner chamber becomes cool. It works really well and doesn’t cost a penny to run. Having moved this, I can finish building my porch and make the place cleaner.

To be able to kick my boots off outside my living space without dragging the dirt in will be a huge relief, as the path to my door is becoming quite muddy. I notice, looking at it now, that it’s also becoming a bit of a rut – I think I’d better do something about that.

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