While doing my morning rounds, I checked the hole by the concrete stairs under the dining room door, and was happy to see the pieces of wood we used to block it looked undisturbed.
When I was done my rounds, I started working on getting that filled in, which meant I needed rocks. Since we got almost no rain at all yesterday, the garden needed watering, so I set up the sprinkler, then grabbed a wheelbarrow to start picking rocks.
Since the big woodchuck had conveniently dug up a lot of rocks for us, I started there. Last night, my daughters saw the woodchuck leaving the den, so they flooded it, then shoved some pruned branches into the opening before moving some of the soil over it.
This morning, while using a long handled garden claw to help pick rocks, I finished filling in the hold and spreading the sand and gravel out more evenly. We’ll have to come back to get rid of the sticks.
Most of these rocks were gathered from what the woodchuck dug up!
Then I just wandered along with the wheelbarrow, picking rocks as I went. Since was was using the garden claw to help moving them, I was also able to break up some of the old plow furrows as well. I picked only the larger rocks, up to a point. The biggest ones were set aside to be available for things like weighing down row covers or whatever.
By the time I got this many, the heat was getting a bit much, so I just hoped they would be enough and moved on. I could easily have filled the wheelbarrow entirely, if I stayed out longer.
Once at the stairs, the first thing I needed to figure out was what to do with the mock orange. I didn’t want to dig it up, even though we plan to transplant it. We still need to decide where to put it. So I took a piece of plastic that had been used as a row cover and wrapped it around the back of the mock orange, then used twine to tie it up. This turned out to be enough to be able to access the hole.
While I was working on the mock orange and moving the wood to access the opening, to my amazement, I heard something scrambling out the other side of the stairs and run off. I could not beleve it! The woodchuck had somehow squeezed through the other side of the stairs!
Then came the assessment phase.
The curious thing about this hole is the lack of dug up soil piled around. So I played the contortionist as best I could, to get pictures through the opening.
This is where I found my good news. The hole didn’t go any deeper! The opening was dug just enough for the woodchuck to access under the stairs. That explains the lack of dug up soil.
What a relief!
Time to start filling with rocks!
In the one picture, I could finally see the opening to under the stairs. I can certainly understand why critters have been going under there! What a great, safe hideaway.
Which is great if we’re talking kittens. Not so great when we’re talking woodchucks!
Okay, so the hole is filled with rocks, but there is still the space between the stairs and the wall. As long as it was there, things would still try to get under there.
Time to raid our pieces of rigid insulation!
A couple of larger pieces were used to cover the back of the stairs, which would cover the opening under them completely. Another, shorter sheet was jammed between those pieces and the brick wall.
More smaller pieces were used to fill in the gap at the end, and rocks were piled up to secure them even more.
What looks like a gap at this end is blocked by a lumpy area of concrete.
Before I headed inside, I went to move the sprikler, startling the woodchuck that was watching from under the spirea near the stone cross!
When I headed out a while ago to move the sprinkler again, I could see that something had tried to get under again. I had to replace a small piece of insulation and push the rocks back. On the other side, something had tried to burrow in the gap that isn’t a gap, but only enough to displace some of the small rocks.
It seems to be working!
After replacing the rocks, I used those little pieces of plastic garden fencing to block it off even more.
I am much relieved that the damage was so very minor. I do wish I hadn’t had to block off the back of those stairs entirely, though. It was a really good, safe place for mamas to have their kittens.
Ah, well. Better that than having a woodchuck living under there!