- Last Friday - the 13th - saw the annual Tristan da Cunha
Ratting Day. This Public Holiday, held during the May
school holiday, entails almost the entire community out
hunting with dogs in gangs, with groups meeting in
Potato Patches Camping huts for lunch and a celebratory
dance in the evening. The most successful rat hunting
team was the “Red Body Hill” who caught 27.8 rats per
team member. The longest rat tail was brought in by the
same team. The tail measured 26.1 centimetres.
Courtesy Saint FM Radio, St. Helena
- Ratting Day
by Sarah Glass
Reprinted in today's St. Helena Independent
Yes it is this time of year again, when
the Tristanians were to get their pay
back on the rats and mice which had
done damage to their vegetables, and
cause them to make everything rat
Ratting Day this year was due to be held
on Thursday the 11th May, however due
to bad weather and lots of rain, it was
held the following day on Friday the 12th
This is an important day in the calendar
for Tristan as it’s a day when groups
come together to hunt rats and have a
meal together, not to mention the many
bottles and cans of 5% fruit juice that
was consumed throughout the day. Although
it was overcast first thing in the
morning, there was no wind and the sun
beamed out later in the day, which was
a blessing for all, especially the children,
who also had all their gadgets on how
to catch a mouse. The Acting Agriculture
Officer signalled the day by the striking
of the dong, an empty gas cylinder
hanging in the center of the village, just
daylight. From then on lights started
coming on in the houses, vehicles
started up to take the teams hunting
around the patches with mousetraps,
dogs were barking, signaling the day had
The men hunting in the fields surrounding
the patches followed with their dogs.
The women as usual followed later with
refreshments to encourage their teams
on, and to prepare lunch and catch up
with friends at the various camping huts
around the patches.
Nine teams took part in the hunt for
which there were the following prizes;
Most Tails, Second Most Tails, Third
most Tails, Longest Tail, Second Longest
Tail, Booby Prize.
Nine teams took part, the most tails per
man were won by the “Twitty Patch
Gang”, second most tails per man, “Below
The Hill Gang” and the third most
tails per man, “Bills Hill Gang” the longest
tail “Bills Hill Gang” the second longest
tail “Twitty Patch Gang” and off
course the booby prize awarded to “Old
Pieces Gang” (ladies tights and what
have you not!!).
All tails were handed in at the Agriculture
Officers clinic to be counted, and
this was carried out be the Acting Agriculture
Officer the Medical Officer and
the Anglican padre, with the Acting Administrator
as referee. Much goodhumored
mockery, and some disrespectful
remarks were made insisting
that cheating had taken place, when
some heard that they had not won, but
then someone insisted that the Padre
would certainly not lie!!
After the count it was home to brush up
for the evenings dance at the Prince
Philip Hall to end an enjoyable day, and
being Saturday and not a working day
the next day, made it all the sweeter.
The Acting Administrator, the Medical
Officer and the Acting Agriculture Officer
were at the dance to presented the
Total tails caught 1,105, with the longest
tail being 257mm.
- Friday 6th June saw this year's Ratting Day. For various reasons it
has been impossible to hold it sooner, which meant that although dry
and calm, the weather was a bit cooler than we would have liked. And
by this time of year the rats have burrowed deeper, requiring more
work to dig them out.
The gangs sent out at first light. There were 8 teams - Below The
Hill, Coolers, Daily's Hill, Bill's Hill, Farm, Second Watron, Red
Body Hill and Twitty Patch.
The Administrator and the MO, among others, provided transport for the
families out to the Patches later during the morning and back in time
for the judging at 1800.
Also reported from Tristan is that on the night of Friday 6th June
someone saw two distress flares in the distance to the west of
Inaccessible. Nothing was heard on the radio distress frequency,
despite frequent calls by Andy Repetto. Andy reported the incident to
Cape Town maritime, but there were no reports of any missing vessels.
They are currently checking with Rio and Montevideo.
--courtesy Radio Saint FM, St. Helena