Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rats & Drugs

A couple of resident rats are probably mad at me. Whenever I notice a fresh rat-hole in the horse shed, I stuff manure down it. This morning I found a major new excavation. The hole was huge. Red clay was tossed all over the sawdust. Looks like the rats are going to put up a fight.

Rats made the news yesterday. Not my rats—these were city rats. The news-making rats have infested Fairview Elementary School in Roanoke so badly that students will be bussed to another elementary school for a month until the rats are eradicated.

Before my 1997 retirement, I taught at a Roanoke middle school that also had a rat problem—both animal and human. Nobody paid much attention to the rats, which we occasionally saw running around the school’s courtyard. Eventually, the courtyard was closed to students. I guess they didn’t want the kids frightening the rats. The students were more dangerous than the rats. I remember one a seventh-grader boasting to the class that he’d be a drug kingpin by summer. The other kids didn’t dispute him.

I’m not the only teacher at that school who took early retirement. Most of us were glad to get out of that toxic environment as soon as we could. Last year, I ran into a former colleague, also retired. We chatted about our teaching experiences—and about how so many—a dozen or more—teachers there had developed cancer or autoimmune disorders while working there. (She and I both had autoimmune disorders.)

The health problems of so many teachers at that school were probably just a coincidence, though.

Speaking of drugs, Franklin County’s latest annual drug raid resulted in the confiscation of over 200 marijuana plants. Yesterday’s Franklin News-Post had a picture of marijuana being confiscated from somewhere on the other side of the county. Every summer, agents fly over in a helicopter and search for plants.

Monday the drug helicopter was flying over our area. From my deck, I could see it making big circles over where my Polecat Creek farm is. Why does it fly over my farm? In the early-90s (before we permanently moved to the area), John and I often camped at the farm on spring and summer weekends. One day, we noticed a path going from the road into our woods on the Dinner Creek side of our property. Knowing the path was wider than the average deer path, we followed it to a clearing where about two dozen holes had been dug. The holes were nearly a foot deep and about six inches across. We called a neighbor who is an investigator for the Sheriff’s Department. He confirmed the holes were where someone was going to plant marijuana. He said he’d keep an eye out. That made us feel better.

Later that summer, the biggest marijuana raid in Franklin County history happened 50 feet from our property line. The agents drove through our farm and cut our fence to get to the site. They hauled out over a thousand plants. Knowing that we had been so close to illegal activity all summer was a little scary. The authorities never did make any arrests.

That fall, someone left a deer head in our farm mailbox. The woman delivering the mail found it and called police. Obviously someone whose million-dollar crop was destroyed thought we were responsible for the raid. We weren’t.

Every since that fall, we’ve been harassed by some of the local rednecks. Harassment is much worse during hunting season, when it’s not unusual for us to find dismembered deer parts on or near our farm.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the biggest marijuana raid in county history happened on the farm owned by the daddy of my biggest harasser.

Anyhow, the resident rats—both four-legged and two-legged—don’t like me.

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Blogger Amy Hanek said...

Teaching is treacherous enough without Rats and Drugs!

3:27 PM  

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