Morning kitties, and critter damage

I headed out a bit late this morning, and this time, I had lots of kitties waiting for their kibble!

Potato Beetle and Rosencrantz were chill, but Toesencrantz did not like me being so close!

So he joined the party at the kibble house. 🙂

Altogether, I think I counted 10 cats, and saw more running towards the house as I continued my rounds.

While putting the bird seed out, I had a surprise.

It looks like a groundhog tried to dig under the steps again! That plastic had been wrapped around the mock orange to hold the branches back last year, when trying to make it so they wouldn’t dig here again. It did work – until now!

All these rocks and broken pieces of bricks had been used to fill the hole, with pieces of insulation slid between the steps and the basement wall.

Much to my surprise, when I cleared the pieces out of the hole, with the intention of putting all the smaller rocks in, I actually saw movement! I think the grog may actually have been stuck there, with the heavier pieces falling over the opening after it dug through.

In trying to fix this last year, it was a relief to find the digging did not go far. The concrete steps are hollow. In the past, cats have had their kittens under there. I am less concerned now, knowing they’re not digging deep against the basement wall. Unfortunately, they’re also digging up the roots of the mock orange. Mind you, I do want to transplant it to a better location. It’s too close to the house, and gets really dried out.

So I think this time, we will leave the grog to it’s hidey hole under the steps.

I saw another one, later, going under the old garden shed, which makes three spots with dens under them.

I did find another burrow, of a sort.

The wheelbarrow leaning on the bale had start all around it, with just a small opening leading under the barrow. This morning, it was very open, with the straw knocked down and flattened. Taking a closer look, I could see something had burrowed under the loose, fallen straw, around the rest of the bale. I don’t see any dirt, so whatever made this may have a nest deeper in the straw.

I was much more dismayed by this damage.

A bunch of tulips have been eaten!

Not all of them; mostly around one edge. Still, quite a few seem to be just gone; eaten all the way to ground level. They’re not dug up at all, which makes me think it was a deer, rather than a skunk or a racoon.

I don’t think groundhogs eat tulips.

Do they?

Anyhow, I grabbed one of the rolls of chicken wire we’d used to try and protect the Crespo squash last year and set it up as far as it could go.

There’s a second, smaller piece that I hope is long enough to cover the rest of the space. It won’t stop any digging creatures, but hopefully it will be enough of a deterrent that critters in general won’t bother, and go for easier food elsewhere.

Along with the usual morning routine, I also checked out the road conditions, which will be in my next post.

The Re-Farmer

Caught in the act!

Oh, the adorable little beast.

I moved the garden cam again, this time onto the summer squash. I’d had to tie some of their stems back onto their supports, and wasn’t sure if they’d come loose under their own weight, or if something caused them to fall.

Our sunburst squash is looking prolific, but we’ve had very little to pick. Lots of them have been withering on the vine, but there have also been bite marks on them.

It is confirmed who is the cause of this!

I had the camera low on its pole, and at some point during the night it slid down and spun a bit to the left. Which is why it caught a raccoon going by. There was a possibility that the raccoons were doing damage, but it completely ignored the squash, other than to go around them.

I was about 99.9% sure it was the woodchuck doing the damage. Now it is 100% confirmed.

*sigh*

The Re-Farmer

Well, that sucks

When we first saw the mystery critters that turned out to be woodchucks, running around in the distance, we saw them going under my late father’s car, or under a shed near the barn. When we first saw them this year, there was a pair of them that seemed to have made their home in the branches pile in the outer yard.

It wasn’t until we discovered a den in the middle of the old garden area that we had something that needed to be gotten rid of. Then there was the den under the concrete steps, right at the house. We’ve got four of them that seemed to have moved right into our yard. One really big one, a pair a smaller ones, and one really small one that we’ve seen coming in and out of the spruce grove.

We know at least one of them, possibly two, seems to have made its home under the old garden shed. There isn’t much we can do about them living there, but I didn’t like having to seal off the concrete stairs. That has been a safe place for yard cats to have their kittens, and now they no longer have access to it. The cats also used the space under the garden shed, too.

With seeing the little one running in and out of the spruce grove near the junk pile, I noticed that Butterscotch and her kittens have not been there as often. They still come to the food and water bowls, and they play around the house and under the bird bath, but we’ve seen Butterscotch and her kittens going through the lilac hedge a lot. Which means she’s been taking them to them empty farm yard across the road. We aren’t happy with that, as that is a busy road they cross to get there, and we see a lot of people speeding on that road.

This afternoon, I happened to look out our living room window and saw a couple of woodchucks, next to the kittens’ food bowl.

The littlest woodchuck was getting it on with the biggest one. Which was interesting, considering she is at least twice his size.

*sigh*

So I headed outside to inflict a bit of coitus interruptus. They were gone before I came around the house, but I decided to take a closer look at the junk pile. There’s an old pallet leaning against one side, that the kittens loved to climb and play on, that I moved aside.

Well, crud.

It looks like the littlest woodchuck has made his den under the junk pile. I made my way through the thistles on the other side, and could see a hole leading under the pile on that side, too.

Then the junk pile screamed at me.

I guess that explains why the kittens don’t seem to be around there as much anymore.

The woodchucks are now responsible for the yard cats losing three safe places they had for their kittens, including one that was being actively used.

I am not impressed. The yard cats, at least, earn their keep by keeping us rodent free.

Well. Except for the rodents that are bigger than they are, and eat our garden.

I am not impressed.

The Re-Farmer

Nooo!!! These critters have got to go!

Okay, I am not a happy camper right now.

My daughter and I had started to do the evening watering, and she was at the tomatoes when she saw something on the concrete steps outside our dining room door. We currently have our umbrella tree sitting there, and she saw something go behind the pot.

The mock orange here has been recovering nicely from cold damage.

As I to check on what my daughter saw, I could see movement through the mock orange leaves. The kittens have been enjoying playing on these steps. In the past, we’ve had cats move their litters under here. There is a gap between the stairs and the basement wall that even the skinnier adult cats can fit through, and I believe the stairs are hollow underneath. In fact, this is where we caught David and Keith, mostly because their eyes were so infected, they couldn’t see us to run away. Their sibling managed to keep going under the stairs and we were never able to get her. Rosencrantz then moved her out of there completely, and into the junk pile, hence Junk Pile’s name.

So, was it a kitten? Or…

When I got to the steps, there was nothing there, so I moved the branches of the mock orange to see if there were any kittens behind the steps.

Instead, I found a large hole!

Yup. A woodchuck had made a den here.

There wasn’t even the telltale pile of dirt, like the one in the garden.

Not. Impressed.

I grabbed our jug of critter repellent, which was almost empty, and simply dumped it into the opening. Then I refilled the jug with water. As I came back, as saw one of the little woodchucks running away and around the back of the house.

Because this is right up against the house, we can’t just flood the opening, but I did pour a couple of jugs of water down the hole. I also blocked it as much as I could with some scrap pieces of wood, for now.

For this one, once it’s clear, I think we will be gathering as many small rocks as we can to dump into the opening, then top it off with soil. It’s going to be difficult, with the mock orange in the way.

And we’re all out of strong smelling soap and hot spicy things.

While watering near the old kitchen garden, I could smell the soap from a distance. Checking the beds with the soap shavings, they seemed to have no new damage.

However, the end of the beet bed neared the house, where we had never had critter damage before, was now kibbled on. Not much. This area did get black pepper, so maybe that discouraged more damage.

Before heading into the house, I checked some other stuff, including the potatoes my daughter had just watered.

I found this.

Four potato bags against the fence were damaged.

I at first thought it could be that kittens had started rolling in the bags or something, but …

… no kitten would be eating potato leaves!

Off everything we’ve been trying to grow this year, nothing has been thriving as much as the potatoes, so this is particularly frustrating!

Since taking this photo, I went back and unrolled the bags to their full height. They are tall enough that it should keep the critters out.

I am not a happy camper!!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: more firsts – and more damage!

I will start with the good stuff, first!

Like these teeny, tiny first fruits!

These are the miniscule Spoon tomatoes! Several plants are now showing baby tomatoes, and they are so tiny and green, the only reason we could see them was because we were wrapping twine around stalks to the chain link fence to support them. Only now have enough of them gotten big enough to do that.

While watering the Montana Morado corn this evening, my daughter called me over to see some new growth.

Most of these handled their transplanting well, and the larger ones almost all now show these developing spikes. I somehow didn’t expect them to show up until the corn was taller, but we’ll see.

Now for the unhappy stuff.

While watering the corn and sunflower beds, I made a point of checking more closely where I saw the deer in the trail cam. Sure enough, a couple of corn had been nibbled on. I also found some Mongolian Giant sunflowers had been nibbled on. None of the larger, transplanted ones.

Then I saw this, while watering the Dorinny corn. The surviving plants are much larger – almost as large as the transplanted Montano Morado corn. Now, we’re down even more!

Three of the largest corn plants were chomped right down. 😦

While I was watering, my daughter came over from watering the old kitchen garden to ask me if I’d harvested the lettuces.

No. No I hadn’t.

Almost every single block with lettuce in it was eaten.

It was the groundhog.

I had hoped we’d driven it away, as it doesn’t seem to be using the den we’d found, anymore. We’re still spraying water in it, and this evening I left the hose running into it long enough to flood it. Wherever it’s gone to make a new den, it didn’t go far. This afternoon, while I was putting the DSLR on its tripod back at the living room window after vacuuming, I happened to see it just outside, with what looked like a dandelion leaf in its mouth. I called the girls over and it heard me, running off behind the house. The girls went outside to chase it off, but either it was already too late, or it came back.

Interestingly, it didn’t touch the beet greens.

I am not happy.

In watching the deer on the trail cam, they seem to be just nibbling as they go by. So after I finished watering, I took some bamboo stakes and set them up around the corn and sunflower beds, then used twine to join them, and the stakes that were already there, at two heights, around three sides. I ran out of twine just as I was finishing, so only a small section has one string instead of two. It won’t stop the deer, but if they’re just passing through, it’ll sort of guide them away.

After running out of twine, I used the last of our yellow rope and strung it from one of the support posts of the squash tunnel, through the pea trellis supports, and joining it to one of the new stakes I put in around the Peaches ‘n Cream collection corn blocks. I then stole another bamboo stake and used it to put a second, higher line at the Dorinny corn.

This leaves the beds in that corner with either twine or rope along the north sides of the Dorinny corn, the pea beds and the northernmost Peaches ‘n Cream corn block, all along the east side of the corn and sunflower beds, and the south side of the southernmost corn block.

Later, we will be stringing the aluminum tart tins I picked up to flash and spin in the wind.

Once we get more twine and/or rope, we’ll put up more to guide the deer away from the garden beds.

I also want to put a barrier and distractions around the Montana Morado corn. So far, they have been untouched, but I would rather lose any of the other corn completely, then this variety.

I also moved the garden cam and hopefully it will cover more of the garden beds.

There are lots of things we can do about the deer, even though we can’t put up anything permanent, like fencing, right now. The groundhog, on the other hand, is a different issue. It can get through or under most things, and now that it’s eaten all the lettuce, there is nothing to stop it from going after the beets. Unless it just doesn’t like beets.

This critter has got to go!!

The Re-Farmer