CBRM has a rat problem. To reduce the rat population, it’s important to understand rats. First and foremost, rats are really, really smart (and not as dirty as people think)! Smart rats call for smart solutions. Learn more about rats from this episode of CBC’s The Nature of Things.
Most importantly: we can’t leave it up to each individual household to solve this problem. That would be like asking each person to deal with climate change on their own. This is impossible. If one person cleans up their property, the rats will simply move elsewhere.
Rat problems require collective action led by government.
What can CBRM do now?
We have to cut off rats’ food supply. That means better control and regulation of food waste with these 3 actionable plans:
- eliminate plastic compost bins. Rats chew through plastic easily. Replace plastic bins with metal
- prevent grocery stores and restaurants from throwing out food. Restaurants and grocery stores need to be included in municipal compost collection. Food is ending up in dumpsters across CBRM—and rats feast on this food1
- ban the feeding of wild birds. When we feed wild birds, we feed rats. We must stop throwing bread and other food scraps out to birds, both in our yards and in our parks. Firstly, the food is not healthy for birds. Secondly, this will also help prevent the spread of avian flu
What can CBRM do in the future?
By cutting off food supply, the population of rats will rapidly diminish. Once the population is diminished, we can work on cleaning up the neglected and abandoned areas of CBRM where rats live and thrive.
How can we do this?
- Provide grants and programs for people to clean up and repair homes, outbuildings, and properties, and to tow away abandoned vehicles. Fines don’t work. Neglected properties are often the result of mental and physical health issue, old age, and poverty. As well, properties are increasingly being damaged in severe weather events. Why fine someone who cannot afford to pay fines? Instead, we need to work with people to help them clean up their properties and build better infrastructure.
- Education. CBRM needs to educate people about rats and how to prevent them.
- Provide mental health support.
Can we totally eliminate rats like Alberta?
Simply: no. Alberta has one major advantage we don’t have: it’s a land-locked province. Cape Breton and Nova Scotia have many ports that bring in ships that bring in rats. This is how we got rats in the first place! Completely eliminating rats would take the effort of every municipality in the Maritime region, again, an impossible task.
To learn how Alberta eliminated rats (and learn why it can’t be done here), listen to the Decoder Ring podcast episode, “The Alberta Rat War.”
Square Foot Gardening (SQF) is a method that makes planning and planting your garden way easier. Mel Bartholomew, who came up with the idea, has determined how many seeds or plants can be planted in one square foot of space.
Applying mindful laziness to your fall garden clean-up
I’m a lazy gardener. I don’t pull weeds. I don’t harvest the kale and lettuce that’s going to seed. I don’t till the plot where I’m planning on planting fall vegetables. That’s too much work, it’s way too hot, and, besides, the bees enjoy the weeds and kale flowers, and my chickens will gladly do the tilling for me.
Banish blandness by planting a wide selection of herbs
The first food I ever attempted to grow was herbs. One winter while living in Toronto, I bought some small clay pots, soil, and chive seeds. I planted the seeds, watered them, placed them on my south-facing windowsill, and waited. My mouth watered at the thought of adding fresh chives to my soups, rice, eggs, and salad.
Adapted from Pascal Baudar’s The Wildcrafting Brewer.
- 4L (1 gallon) glass jar (plastic will do)
- measuring cups
- thin towel or cheesecloth
- rubber band
- large mixing spoon
- resealable bottles
- 4 L (1 gallon) of de-chlorinated water (you can pour the water out the night before and leave it on your counter—the chlorine will evaporate by morning)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup starter (e.g., ginger bug)
- foraged (edible!) ingredients such as: flowers, herbs, bark, leaves, needles, cones, seeds, berries, etc.
Notes on Foraging (aka., Wildcrafting or Gleaning)
- Never eat anything you don’t know or recognize. Some plants are poisonous.
- To ensure its health and longevity, and to share with others, take no more than 1/3 of each plant.
- It is not recommended that you forage plants from along roadsides.
- Forage plants from areas where people do not use pesticides.
The flavour (and colour) of your hike soda will change with the seasons. Experiment with flavours by combining multiple plants—it’s fun to figure out what plants taste good together…and which ones do not.
- About a week before you make the soda, you’ll need to make a ginger bug. You can also get a ginger bug starter from a friend.
- Go on a hike to gather your ingredients. You will want enough ingredients to fill 1/2 of your jar (that’s about 4 cups).
- If needed, separate leaves/flowers from stems, roots, and other inedible parts.
- Wash your ingredients, shake out excess water, then stuff everything into your jar.
- Put 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Once sugar is dissolved, add the starter (ginger bug).
- Add the sugar water, ginger bug, and the remaining water to your jar.
- Stir everything together.
- Cover the top of the jar with cloth and rubber band.
- Place jar in a warm place to ferment. Active fermentation (seeing bubbles) should start within 48+ hours. Let the jar ferment for 2-5 days. The longer it ferments, the more bubbly and less sweet it will be.
- Once it has fermented in the jar, strain the liquid through a sieve and compost your ingredients.
- Pour soda into resealable bottles. Put in a warm place and ferment another 1-3 days.
- Place bottles in the fridge to slow fermenting.
- Enjoy within 2 weeks.
- Caution: open bottles over a sink or outside. Hike soda often continues to ferment in the bottle so can become very explode-y.
Using wild ingredients to produce truly unique, truly local beers
IPA beers make me sneeze. The higher the IBU (international bitterness unit), the worse I get. My face gets flushed. My sinuses clog up. After a mere bottle or two I get nauseous.