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News of Ratting Day 2015

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2015 Ratting Day
Photos from Marc Escudier show
the business end of Ratting Day
with the rats' tails being removed and sorted
out at The Patches
ready for the count back in the village
with Wayne Swain performing the de-tailing task
in the photo below,
making sure the saved tails are as long as possible
in case one qualifies for the longest tail prize -
this year measuring 27 cms.

Report from Tina Glass

The traditional Ratting Day, which is held once a year, was announced on Saturday 16th May at 7am by the ringing of the fishing gong by Chief Islander Ian Lavarello and the Agriculture Officer Neil Swain . No one was expecting this as weather was not nice at all!

Due to the foul weather there was not a lot of commotion as normal early morning. However everyone still meet up in their gangs before heading out to the Potato Patches. The Administrator's and Doctor's Land Rovers, the bus and private vehicles were used to transport women and children in their team gangs to the camping huts at the patches. Unfortunately the weather was very miserable, rainy, cold and windy . Most of the day was spent in the huts cooking lunch and trying to keep warm!

After lunch most everyone return back to the Settlement early in the afternoon. The highlight of the day is when the tails are counted to see which teams have won. Counting took place at the Veterinary Clinic; the judges were Acting Administrator Chris Standing, Chief Islander Ian Lavarello, Agriculture Officer Neil Swain and Doctor Wei.

The prizes were given out after the tails had been counted, results were as follows:

Winning Teams:

Most Tails
1st Prize - Below the Hill (351 tails with only 10 men in the gang so winning with 35.1 tails per man)
2nd Prize – Second Watron (236 tails with 7 men in the gang = 33.7 tails per man)
3rd Prize –Coolers (50 tails with 2 men in the gang = 25 tails per man)

Longest Tail:
1st Prize - Second Watron 27cm
2nd Prize – Below the Hill 26.5cm

Booby Prize: Twitty Patch (3 tails with 5 men = .6 per man

Even though the weather was not good a total of 711 rats and mice were killed this year.

Editor's Note: As the Chief Islander's geography teacher 30 years ago I suppose I must take some responsibility for Ian's decision to declare 16th May as Ratting day despite the weather! Readers may also like to know that, as the keenest meteorology student, Ian turned up seven days a week to take weather observations at the school, which then had a full Stevenson's Screen complete with professional instruments supplied by the South African Government Met. Office and an anemometer on the roof to measure wind speed. As a result Ian's first job was to take over weather observations on the island, which were then sent daily to South Africa. Nowadays instruments are automatic.

Ratting Day Photos

As we only have a few 2015 Ratting Day photos for perhaps obvious reasons, we show below a selection from 2014. The archive pages also give a flavour of the atmosphere on this special Tristan day (when the sun is shining!).

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