A rat is resident in the bowels of the combine

“HAVE you had my torch?” came the querulous demand. No. Why should I? I have my own torch, jealously guarded so that it does not walk as it no doubt would if I did not have a metaphorical lead on it.

John has a few of those mega million candle power torches, none of them ever in the right place or fully charged. It must be me of course that has hidden this one, although I think this particular torch is probably to be found in the depths of the combine.

The combine has been stored over winter in the big grain shed. John has been poring over his last remaining heaps of grain like a miser in a fairytale with his hoard of gold. Grain prices have been on the up again and he cannot make up his mind whether to sell while the price is high, or hope it will go higher.

Grain prices are so volatile. For twenty years they were rock bottom, soared just over two years ago, dropped again and are now rising once more. The swings in price persuaded John to commit an extra forty acres to grass for the next five years as he was so disgruntled with the price of corn.

Then, bingo, floods and droughts in far flung place in the world decimates world crops. Wrong again.

But with grain being so precious, John is determined to keep it as pristine as possible, and that means war on vermin. Try as you might, even in a vermin proof shed, it is extremely difficult to keep mice and rats out.

In the last week John has ordered and had fitted metal plates for the sides of the grain shed doors to prevent any vermin squeezing their way in. Previously there were strips of wood, but the rats had eaten through those.

They’ll get blunt teeth eating though these plates.

However, even though rats and mice can no longer get in, we were left with the problem that at least one rat was probably still in there. A resident in the bowels of the combine.

John could hear it skittering about and even shone a torch into its beady little eyes before it scampered back into the combine’s innards. So Plan A has been to drive the combine out of the shed, shut the door tightly and then work out a plan to trap the rat.

Millie, our Jack Russell puppy has so far not proved her worth as a rat catcher. She has played with one or two and had little nips at them, but not dealt a killer snap. We know when she has cornered a mouse or baby rat now as she gets very excited and yaps and barks at her prey.

But tonight’s news has given me fresh food for thought. Larry, the new cat at Number 10 may well need a holiday job after he has despatched the rat in Downing Street.

A rural idyll calls.