Breaking up "The Family"


(You, Dirty Rat)

Tonight, we ventured to The Plaza in old town Santa Fe and enjoyed a cool evening of music among a sea of grey locks and golden years. Much as we had experienced at the cactus cuttings giveaway on Saturday at La Tienda in Eldorado, we were outnumbered by Baby Boomers 100 to 1.

It is an oddly gratifying feeling to know we live in a sleepy town, where some things are better done mañana, outsiders complain about how slow people drive through town and where the nightlife essentially ends when most of its residents go to bed.

Moreover, I noticed that despite this crowd’s inclination to tap into their deferred annuities and IRAs, they ain’t sitting on their laurels; instead they’re using their time off from the hustle and bustle and the grind wisely, by staying active in one of many wonderful multiple ways that New Mexicans get their daily dose of Vitamin D and fresh air - hiking, biking, cycling, horseback riding, climbing, rafting, kayaking, dancing, gardening, and making art.

To me this was particularly highlighted by the fact that not only were there many people dancing, but I dare say that most were not as pleasantly plump as you’d expect most Americans to be. In contrast to the nearly 75% of adults in this country that are overweight or obese (42.5% are obese according to 2017-18 CDC stats), the Social Security Set here looked healthy, happy and extraordinarily mobile, which is saying a lot, because I continually hear people say they’ve gained significant weight over the last year and a half due to the pandemic.

Anyway, let’s shift from talking about fat cats to dirty rats, for the daytime highlight for me yesterday was the clearing of a giant packrats’ nest that sat 50 feet from our back door.

I’ve been clearing hundreds of branches and trunks everyday for one to two hours off our land for a couple of months now and relocating them to the edges of plateaus to slow down the drainage from the monsoons. These swaths of branches create alluvial fans (spread your fingers) that spread the water down the hillside and prevent the creation of new soil-eroding arroyos (gullies).

The sea of deadwood we have was - and continues to be - caused by devastating bark beetles that have infested and killed trees on nearly 60 millions of acres across the Western United States since 2000, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It is no coincidence that the Southwest has simultaneously suffered more than 20 years of continuous drought that weaken the trees natural defenses against these pests. Alas, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory predict that New Mexico will likely lose the vast majority of its forests by 2050 due the ravages of climate change.

As a result, there’s no dearth in the packrat’s supply chain. All the dead vegetation has contributed to new housing construction and opulent rodent homes at the lowest mortgage rates rats have ever seen.

Thus, yesterday I came across a McMansion of a rat’s nest in our “backyard,” literally a stone’s throw from the back door, which I knew I had to immediately demolish.

Most of the nests I come across are relatively small as a bird’s nest or as large as a tub of moonshine, tucked in the corner of an electrical circuit box, underneath stacks of firewood or serving as beds half-buried underneath a Juniper.

However, I had to call Guinness for this one, because it was more like a dry beaver’s dam. And being that they are very dry and brittle on top, and the construction is an intricate tangle of deconstruction, you rarely expect it to be a live nest - because it just looks like a tornado hit an abandoned section of Detroit.

Nonetheless and allthemore, throughout the hour long process I imagined that one would run out and say to me, “And, what the fuck do you want?”

Sorry, that’s exactly how I imagine that these darn rodents talk. Disrespectful, for sure. Not like it used to be when the worst insult a mobster might spew would be, “You dirty rat, you. I’m gonna get ya.”

Anyhoo, my infiltration of their underground hideout made me feel like I was breaking up “The Family,” just like Rudy did, when he was once-a-good-guy in New York City.

Still hard to believe he went from chasing and catching vermin, to becoming such a dirty rat himself; whatever Trump and the Russian Mob have on him must run deep into the sewer of what it took to make him a two-term Hizoner of the greatest city in the world.

(BTW, I highly recommend the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch’s poetic “Broken Windows” take on Giuliani’s rise and fall from morality, which I have provided a link to in the comments.)

Anyway, I broke into the rodent syndicate by taking apart the home, the size of which was proportionally bigger than our own, and then flooded it without remorse - especially since, despite all the threatening wildlife we encounter here - packs of hungry coyotes, angry rattlesnakes, roaring mountain lions and stinging centipedes - the truly harmful and prospectively lethal animals are the rats, because of the New Mexican plague they carry - Hantavirus.

So, even though I wore a bandana throughout the eviction, I still couldn’t help but feel vulnerable and at great peril, particularly because half way through the purge a cat-sized rat broke out of the timber-and-tinder and scurried down the arroyo.

And although I actually thought it was pretty cute, being that a live rat was living there, it poses the greatest risk I’ve been exposed to in six months ever since I began taking on the task of busting the rat-and-mice mafia here at the Hacienda.

Hopefully, soon enough I’ll be able to hand over the job to my associates, Barker & Zeus, our newest pets that we’re bred to get rid of pests, the rat terriers who will be in charge of rat abatement here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms.