I have rats. Thankfully they are not in the house but are running wild in the vegetable garden. They have eaten the tops of my beets, hollowed out the celeriac, and made their way into the tubs of greens in the big coldframes. I loathe them. They reproduce at an alarming rate. They have been drawn to the garden by my keeping of livestock. They join right in at meal time for pigs, chickens or what have you.

I have a resident red-tailed hawk of which I have become fond. I have been hesitant to poison the rodents for fear of sickening the bird. Last week, however, I had it. I rang both Gus Ben David and Soo Whiting. Fortunately they both gave me the same information.

A poisoned rat will seek shelter (often in the walls of your basement where he will smell for about a year). He rarely dies where a hawk could find him. Also, the rat probably only took one bite of the poison so the bird would need to eat several to harm him. That is all I needed to hear. I promptly purchased several bars of the stuff and placed it in the metal cans under some fish totes.

By the way, rat poison is coumadin, the medicine given to many to thin blood — not a particularly comforting thought.

It was so beautiful last midweek and I am feeling the light change already. I spread 25 50-pound bags of lime on my raised beds by hand. I used a large coffee can. By week’s end I gave myself carpel tunnel syndrome and went whining to the chiropractor.

I was happy to get the lime down before the snowfall last Saturday night. I used pelletized so it will take a few rains and/or snows to get it into the ground. I didn’t lime last year and with our acid soil here on the Island I know it needs it badly. In my perfect world I would have sent off a soil sample to the University of Massachusetts for a report. Oh well!

I got my greenhouse whipped into shape, set up the propagating mats, tested them for a few days and promptly planted onion and leek seeds. I could not resist the temptation. It was so pleasant in there. I know it is early but I don’t care. Most take over 100 days to mature. I am determined to do them “right” this coming year. I failed miserably the past season. I already have begun purchasing onions at the market which irritates me. I do have some leeks remaining in the garden but they are pathetically small — not much thicker than my index finger.

Alan Healy at Mermaid Farm gave me a package of his nitrate-free home-grown hot dogs. I chopped them into my pulled pork and sauerkraut and baked off in a Dutch oven. Excellent! And it reminded me of my late Aunt Jan. She made the dish with kielbasa instead of hot dogs. I think it is Polish in origin.

I hope you have all tried Mermaid Farm’s feta cheese and yogurt. They are available at Cronig’s and Scottish Bakehouse.

The big news this week is the fatal shootings of a federal judge, a young girl and political aides in the assassination attempt on U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The national conversation seems to be centered around the hateful rhetoric by certain people with media prominence. To wit, Sharron Angle suggesting “Second Amendment remedies” in the race against incumbent Sen. Harry Reid. Then Michele Bachmann advocating for Minnesotans to become “armed and dangerous.” Let’s not forget Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” on “targeted” districts including Giffords’, Arizona’s Eighth! I forget who said “If ballots don’t work, try bullets.”

Clearly Mr. Loughner is a wing nut but the craziest of us still watch television and are on social networking sites. In fact the real crazies think the TV is talking to them.

I am appalled that the shooter was kicked out of school and denied military induction because of his mental and/or drugged state but was still able to purchase a handgun.

The right wing can spin this any way they want but they have incited unstable persons with their violent metaphors. I used to edit the old adage for my children: Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can hurt forever!