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Rats in Paradise: A NeoProhibitionist Parable

Living in wine country isn’t exactly paradise, but it’s damn close.

Here, west of the town of Sonoma, snuggled up to the mountains that separate us from the Petaluma valley, we’re pretty well surrounded by vineyards …  and farms running over with olive trees, veggies, horses, llamas, cows, ostriches and more. There’s a dressage facility up the road and a beat-up old tin-roofed barn with gray-weathered siding a hundred or so yards away. And this time of the year, the frogs are so loud at night that you need earplugs to sleep.


And rats.

Rats in paradise.

Think of the food load in the neighborhood: grapes, olives, veggies and for the livestock: grain and other feed.

It’s a constant battle. We’ve been in this house for 23 years now and have spent a lot of that time making sure that the tiniest of openings anywhere are covered. That we don’t leave food … or even the dog’s empty dish outside. That we clear away potential habitat that could shelter them.

We had a mouse in the garage once that set up housekeeping in a huge bag of basamati rice. That required an extensive genocidal campaign, massive clean up … and new weatherstripping in the paper-thin openings.

Also  early warning traps set about in places that dogs and cats can’t get to them. I have to admit that I’ve been lax about those. What a hassle.

I’m not a cat person, but have noticed that the more cats that wander through the yard, the fewer rodents. I’ve reached an accommodation with the feline intruders. But lately, the ginger cat we used to see all the time hasn’t been leaving the deposits we complain about cleaning up in the back yard.

I get up early to create News Fetch. And this morning, about a quarter before five, I wandered into the kitchen, looked out the back window and saw … a rat. A rat under my olive trees, gathering the fruit that had fallen. A rat! in MY paradise!

And I hadn’t even turned on the coffeemaker.

Back to the battle!


Like rats and mice, NeoProhibitionists don’t go away. They don’t give up. They are relentless. There are a lot of them. And they have support mechanisms, habitats and sources of sustenance that continue to feed them — much of it coming from federal and state government coffers.

It’s easy to let your guard down when things are going well. And ever so easy to slack off the fight when it seems that the war has been won. Seems like a hassle to keep on getting the message out when sales are good.

The war, however, is never over, the enemy never finally vanquished and never will be.

Battles can be won, but only when you’re out there fighting.

Just a thought for complacent country homeowners … and the wine industry.

I don’t want rats in my house. Do you?