Thursday, April 03, 2008
Training My Compost Rat
Last night when I went out to feed my rat (as in add kitchen scraps to the compost bin) I discovered that he (and I really hope it's not a she) has been trained. Of course we all know rats are smart in theory but now I have proof. First off, let me say that I have never put any meat or dairy or other scraps that supposedly might attract rats into my compost pile. Be that as it may I have more than once heard a thump as I opened the bin and also have had the pleasure of seeing the little guy run off down the fence. So I've gotten into the habit of kicking the side of the bin before I open it in hopes of scaring him away. However, it turns out that if you kick the bin on 20 or 30 occasions before dumping in some prime kitchen scraps (our ex-CSA box always had way too many bitter greens) the smart rat will learn that it is feeding time and pop up through the leaves to see what's on tonight's menu. He looked at me, twitching his nose, as if to say "What took so long?" And even though I told him in no uncertain terms that he had no business hanging around he stayed there, half buried, waiting to be served. So I dumped the bucket on the pile and covered it with leaves from my holding bin that were collected last fall. This weekend I will think about ways to discourage his presence although at the moment I have no idea what might work. My bin is black plastic with doors on all four sides at the bottom for easy removal of completed compost and last night, besides the rat encounter, I had one other moment of excitement. I've been piling kitchen scraps, leaves and garden trimmings in the bin for over half a year. I'd begun to think it would never fill up...no matter how overflowing I left it after doing some pruning or deadheading it always settled down to a foot or so below the top. Last night I thought I'd peek in the door to see what the stuff at the bottom looked like...and amazingly enough it actually looks like compost! I've never been a good composter...things here seem to dry out but not compost easily. But I've been trying to get better at it and it looks like maybe I have! So this weekend I'll remove some of the completed compost and see who or what I find. Hey, it might not be Spring Fling, but it could be fun anyway. And I'm saving up my Southwest points so maybe next year I'll get to spend the weekend with a more compatible group of gardeners.