“We Are Not Shed People”

Backyard sheds are an important part of suburban American life. With a shed comes obligation, however, and some are not up to the demands of shed ownership. In particular, I am not a worthy shed owner.


Our shed was, as sheds go, a pretty nice shed. It had been added to the home (we think) by its original owner, perhaps at the time the house was finished by the builder. The outside walls were finished with similar wood siding to that on the house; the inside was left without real walls. We used it to store a shedful of stuff that we didn’t want, didn’t know what else to do with.


One thing our shed did for the local ecosystem was provide a home for small rodents. This I discovered surprisingly recently. As a grossly unqualified shed owner, I hadn’t been in the shed for at least two years. A large rose bush with gigantic, murderous thorns had grown completely over the shed door. Before that the last thing I’d done was replace the shed doorknob with a new one. Since that time, mice or rats, or both working as a team, had gnawed a classic cartoon-like access portal at the bottom of the bush-hidden side of the shed. Our dog – a “rat terrier” as unworthy of her title as we are of “shed people” – had been showing a lot of interest in those bushes and that area, but had never come anywhere close to actually getting a rat. One afternoon, as I walked out with Gypsy, she and I both heard a brief rustle, and I turned to see a rat on a low holly branch. Gypsy saw it too, and sprang to the attack by cleverly running the opposite direction towards the area where she really suspected the rats to be.

No Shed

At that point I wondered, “Where is that rat going?” Only then did I think to check whether there was another way into the shed besides the inaccessible well-locked door. The next day we cut the rose bush back and checked inside. There amidst the unwanted detritus steaming away in the shed was what must have been some of the most valuable prime rat real estate in the area. We didn’t see any rats at that point, and the dog couldn’t find any either, but it was clear that they’d made much better use of the shed than we ever had.

Rat Check

About $800 later, we’re shedless. It was somewhat embarrassing taking the pictures. There I was, an affluent yuppie unable to maintain a shed in his own back yard, taking pictures of guys forced to wear breathing masks to protect themselves from the rodent filth I’d allowed to accumulate. It made me feel contemptible, but as I was depriving myself of a shed I contented myself that that was appropriate punishment. I don’t deserve a shed.

We’ll put flowerpots on the slab, or something. Flowers and herbs I can take care of, usually. The rose bush will be a lot happier anyway. I don’t know where the rats will go. They were of course seriously traumatized, and to some extent I feel kind-of bad about that too.

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