Monthly Archives: April 2016

Pursuit of Passion not Profit

I am going to be real clear what my farm service is about. : It is about Purpose and Passion, not about Business and Profit.

I started on this pathway after a life changing move to California landed me on a variety of farms, getting me involved with agriculture and gardening. It was the poultry with its connection to vermin and varmit that eventually developed into my love affair with terriers and my devoted confrontations with rats.

The mild climate of affluent northern CA is an excellent breeding ground for the Norway rat. There  is a lack of public space and dog friendly areas and  big game hunting is hard to access, costing quite a bit of money to lease hunting rights. This and marijuana production kept me on farms and out of the woods during the fall deer season. While I might have never imagined what a working rat pack in motion was, I can now say that I fully embrace the challenges and foe I have chosen, and the characters and friends I meet along the way. One of my personal dogs nearly died from rat poison and the first hand experience has kept me on my pathway.

While catching rats with dogs is a traditional method and there are many good dogs in the USA and world, there are few people on the West Coast or entire USA that are actively seeking out rats on a regular basis like I do. I do not have the best dogs in the world. I am just a regular guy, with regular dogs that loves to spend time on farms.

Once of the things we face, is how to actually get what we do out there to the world. This traditional method has been mostly forgotten or people think that is is a joke. “YEA, YEA, YEA, some guy catches a couple rats.” I am very thankful for the element of business professionalism that K.Ruby has brought to my communication and farm service with a website and logo from her expertise running the I have a GED and little technical skills, yet I am highly motivated and put in a strong and skillful effort at every farm I visit. Ruby’s skills have helped people to take my passion seriously. I also traded fruit tree pruning for my website, another skilled agriculture trade.

While we may run this in some ways like a business, it is because we want to show we are serious and not surfer bro dudes or slimy scum bags. We show up when we say we will, and we have incredible endorsements from the farmers and farms that we visit. We train our dogs not to chase poultry and livestock and give every location our best effort. We are not a pest control business or residential service and we don’t crawl around under houses no matter how much people ask us to.

When we share our posts to the greater world, it is for a couple reasons. One of those reasons is because I love showing off my dogs.  I am fortunate to have been given time with some incredible dogs none more important that Grumpy, for those that know me personally or saw him work  Two, we are also showing off through photos that we are an effective solution and seeing is believeing–there is no other way to show it other than first hand. Three,  we have to share what we do in order to find farms with rats that are not throwing out poison, and those are few and far between.

I have a job and am deeply steeped in agriculture. I am a sheep shearer. I have done many kinds of work (truck driver, skilled winery worker in organic grape and wine production, gopher trapper, tree pruner and so much more) all deeply involved in agriculture. What I do with rats is my hobby in my free time. I continue to find ways to spend time on farms because that is where I want to be, and that is what I love doing.

I want to be real clear for those people that can’t read and understand this.. I dont go to a farm or homestead that I do not think I will be effective at or without confirmed rats. I will not return to farms where farmers will not make a effort to clean up or change management practice to deter rats in the future. I get to work with people I enjoy and the farms that I want to support. I help people that develop an ongoing personal connection with me and my extended farm family.

I will lay it out. If this was for-profit I would be charging $300-500 dollars per hour for my time including drive fees or contract costs. Do you have any idea how many people contact me and say this is what I should be doing? That I should make this a for-profit business structure. Do you know how many people contact me and say, “Wow, great idea I am going to start doing this as a for-profit business”. Well great, I wish more people caught rats with dogs and kept rats off farms and you can learn the same way I did, by trying it.

Should you contact me about a rat issues and the service that I provide. I will send you the stock information that includes a questionaire and asks for pictures so I can get a feel for the infrastructure of your farm. I will schedule via email and I don’t give out phone numbers as a public figure that polarizes PETA style activist hate and threats. I charge a  small fee to keep people from wasting my time over the fear of supposed rats and to defray the high costs of food & care of  my dogs.

I charge a  small fee to keep people from wasting my time over the fear of supposed rats and to defray the high costs of food & care of  my dogs. I currently ask a whopping fee of $100-150 and a box of beer for a farm visit of 3-4 hours. I have driven 900 one way miles to reach a farm without changing this and we are often bringing 2-4 people and 5-8 dogs. no one is getting rich here. I will take farm products or meat in trade and will work with anyone who really has rats and is not able to meet this request. I have asked for farmers on road trip to allow me to stay on the farm and to feed me instead of a monetary amount.

I dont know how anyone that is stable minded thinks that I can raise, train and support at least 4 adult rat catching terriers, and the associated costs of dog food, shots, vet care, first aid, specialty tools, gas and vehicle maintenance on this type of service stipend.

My family and friends will vouch for the truth of my words. I do what I do because I love doing it and am passionate about it. I love being on farms and hunting with dogs. This is what I do to support organic farming and homesteads. I continue a tradition of hunting with dogs while having fun on farms and meeting some great characters.

I am thankful for all the wonderful family and friends that I have met along the way and for those personally that have supported my work as relentlessly and passionately pursue rats, with dogs, farms.

We represent the past and the future in photos “Sir Grumps Alot” and our newest prospect is Mad Max aka Emperor Maximillian

Anatomy of a Monster

big and bigger

A few blurbs back I shared a comprehensive guide to the two most common species of rats, Rattus Rattus and Rattus Norvegicus. Of the two, the Norway rat is clearly larger and more aggressive. It has a strong burrowing instinct and can sink barns and buildings by undermining foundations and move tremendous amounts of dirt. Its aggressive nature can be seen when treating chickens that have been attacked in the night as they were catatonic or babies chicks that have been eaten. Other rats will even eat their own kind if they have been killed in a trap.

When on a site visit I have seen Norway rats turning to face the dog and sometimes actually jumping straight at a dog (most dont live that long to get the chance). We also deal with rat bites to the dogs after every hunt and treat them at home. Yes, working the dogs is inherently dangerous. But so is driving a car.

What do you think of when you think big rat? I doubt many real creatures inspire more myth or creative imaginings. A few rat droppings, creatively imagined turn into hundreds of rats. A big rat turns into a cat size urban myth. Three juvenile rats entering in a nest burrow is fodder for a fire of fevered fear of infestations.

In my own tale as a rat catcher I have not kept track of my total sum of dead rats, though this would be interesting. I also do not keep journals or notes on rat biology. I do, however, take the time to weigh and measure the occasional very large specimen and have learned a few things. I do see big rats and I see them at many locations. I consider any rat over .85 be a big one. This turns the fever pitch of imagination into reality. While big rats in the .85 lb. range are common, when you start to get bigger than this is when you are truly seeing a rat. Here the weight range become more compact with less variance and slight weight difference become less common. I have been weighing rats 3 or 4 years in this time I have killed (guesstimate) several thousands of rats. On locations with good amounts of available food sources we often see rats in the 1.1 lb range. The largest I have ever seen and my personal record for largest specimen was a 1.272 lb. buck and no specimens ever came close although I eagerly weighed many. In fact this is how I learned a big rat is .85 and bigger because that is what big rats weigh when you weigh them enough.

This past weekend on a dairy farm I was able to raise the bar on my personal experience and catch a rat with my dogs that was truly a monster of the species. Caught as a breeding pair both the maie and femaie are exceptional in size. These rats are not easy to catch or kill and do damage to the dogs. It takes courage, skill and bravery to confront such a beast knowing they will take a beating or bite. As much as I know you have enjoyed reading this, I also guess you are wondering what a personal best and monster rat weighs.

As large as a full size 750ml bottle of wine and weighing in at 1.440 lbs. This is true monster !