Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Know Your Enemy

The word "enemy" may be a bit of exaggeration, but the homesteader definitely faces a few nemesis when it' comes to gardening or raising animals. Deer, rabbits, bobcats, owls... the list can go on and on. You need to know what you're up against so you can fight back and defend your domain. Wildlife is beautiful and shouldn't be killed just for the sake of pleasure, but there comes a time when humane means just aren't enough.

I thought I had done all I could to protect my garden against the known wildlife consumers, including the sweet quail families that wander through on a daily basis. They're ground feeders, so anything directly on the ground that appeals to them is breakfast!

I covered each of my boxes with small bird netting to keep out the rabbits, birds, and quail. I had hoped it would also deter the larger vegetarians as well: deer! All seemed fine... for a while.

Apparently, I had forgotten some little critter, because I had lovely sugar snap and shell peas coming up and then suddenly, poof... they were gone! Again! This happened the year before and I had assumed it was the birds, so I had gone to battle mode this year thinking I had nipped the problem in the bud.

Obviously, not.

Last year, I was so discouraged by this I gave up planting seeds directly into the ground, but this year, I knew I had to solve the issue once and for all. Some things just don't do as well when transplanted.

The evidence was clearly before me as I found lettuce with large bites missing and peas nipped off at the soil line, along with the smallest of holes... too small for a gopher or ground squirrel. it had to be something... very, very, small.

A quick trip to the local nursery confirmed the worst... shrews. My personal thoughts? Field mice. Either way, the solution seemed to be the same. A mouse trap with bait. My lure of choice? Peanut Butter with Oats. Mmmmmm.... what shrew mouse could resist?

Each evening I cover the boxes with additional greenhouse grade plastic to keep things from getting too cold from our mountain/desert nights. But this time, I slipped a baited trap in each. This morning, my persistance paid off and victory was achieved (now you know why they call those "Victor" mouse traps!). Well, at least I won the battle... hopefully, in time, I'll win the war!

WARNING: If you're squeamish, don't look!

I'm sure I haven't gotten rid of the last of the mice (it wasn't a shrew this time), so this will become an evening ritual until the plants are large enough that it doesn't matter. I'd let my cats solve this, but we keep them in the garage at night so they don't become bobcat dinners.

Now if I could just have the same success with getting gophers, I'd be a happy woman!

(Comments on gopher control will be greatly appreciated!)


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