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Dealing with Critters in Garden

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Dealing with Critters in Garden Empty Re: Dealing with Critters in Garden

Post  Guinevere 5/16/2024, 4:30 pm

It amazes me that the pioneers were able to survive without starving, without the knowhow and technology we have now.  You'd think it would be easy to grow food, but with critters, weather, diseases, and weeds, I'm surprised anyone gets any food at all!
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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/17/2024, 2:10 pm

As a people, we have become too civilized. I have some diaries/recordings of some of my ancestors. Times were very hard, yet they survived mainly because they were so in tune with nature. A great majority of our people have lost that ability. 

I have a groundhog nibbling at my garden now. If I can catch it, I will have to kill it. I don't feel comfortable giving someone else my problem. Been a long time since I dressed one, I will have to remember where all the scent glands are. 

Waiting for the rain to stop so I can get back out in the garden. I need to finish another raised bed. I hope I didn't offend anyone by being so blunt, if so, I apologize.
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Post  Guinevere 5/17/2024, 2:37 pm

SMEDLEY BUTLER wrote:

I have a groundhog nibbling at my garden now. If I can catch it, I will have to kill it. I don't feel comfortable giving someone else my problem. Been a long time since I dressed one, I will have to remember where all the scent glands are. 
I'm trying to walk the line between offering wildlife habitat for many creatures, and keeping said wildlife off the plants I really care about! 

A family of groundhogs feasts on my "back 40" unmown meadow daily.  As long as they stay there and don't venture into my flowers and vegetables, I won't have to kill them.   

A herd of five deer graze my flora smorgasbord regularly.

A family of raccoons has been nightly tormenting me, climbing the fence to my perennial garden, even though there's nothing in there they want!  Every morning the fence is bent down in several places, but nothing in the garden is eaten or dug, so I have no idea why they are doing this.  I will have to fence the top of my SFG garden, because those raccoons will climb right in when the veggies start. They were scarfing all my birdseed, even over the baffles I have on every pole, so now I have to bring 15 birdfeeders inside every night.

Two red foxes traipse through the yard morning and evening, but my courageous yet foolhardy cat sprints after them every time, hissing and spitting, until they depart "her" territory.  They were bemused the first time this happened; I think they expected to be the hunters, not the hunted, but they were quickly disabused of that notion.  Now they enter the yard warily, looking around for her, and if she's there they immediately bolt as she growls and chases them.

Various opossums, skunks, and armadillos dig holes everywhere every night.  

I'm surprised my plants do as well as they do, with threats all around, all the time.
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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/18/2024, 2:41 pm

I catch a lot of raccoons tearing up my bird feeders. I am an unabashed bird lover and have several expensive squirrel-proof feeders. They are absolutely squirrel proof but they are not raccoon proof.  We live on KY Lake and are surrounded by TVA forest which is really convenient for releasing the raccoons. I usually take them about 3 miles away where no other homes are ( don't want to give them my problems.) Only had one come back, had to dispatch him. I spray a small spot of white paint on the rear end so I can identify them.

We too have an abundance of wildlife. Mama doe and two babies yesterday crossed the yard while I was birdwatching and drinking coffee. Last week, a young Grey Fox (normally nocturnal, shy and elusive) let me get within 50 feet of him/her. We just bought a side of beef so I am feeding him right out of the freezer. I have done this before, only with a Red Fox. I could get within 10 feet of her and the babies. i fed her for several years and she almost became a pet. The most babies I ever saw was 5, usually 2 or 3.

As I get older and closer to the grave, I am becoming a lot softer. I ran a hunting club for many years and have killed thousands of animals. Now when I deer hunt, I almost never take a gun.
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Post  Guinevere 5/18/2024, 3:49 pm

Smedley, I too am an avid bird lover.  The past few days I have had a small flock (5-7) of red crossbills on my tray feeder.  Apparently they are very rare; I submitted my sighting to Cornell Bird Labs, and they want proof!  I didn't get a sound ID, and I don't have a good camera to zoom in.  My phone camera is very bad, so I can't get the proof they want, but I know I saw them, so I am satisfied.  Very odd-looking birds.  I thought they must be red or purple finches, but their beaks were not finch beaks at all.  The birds' heads look rather prehistoric when seen in profile; a thick, crooked beak reminiscent of a flying dinosaur.  And their heads look spotted with fine dots.  The males are red and the females are yellowish.  Peterson's Field Guide gave me my answer.  

I farm mealworms, mostly for the bluebird family that nests in my yard.  The pair is on their second brood this spring.  This is the first year I've ever seen a nest close up, and watched a family fledge.  

I would befriend the foxes, if my cat and my husband allowed me to. . .
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Post  OhioGardener 5/18/2024, 6:57 pm

SMEDLEY BUTLER wrote:I catch a lot of raccoons tearing up my bird feeders. I am an unabashed bird lover and have several expensive squirrel-proof feeders. They are absolutely squirrel proof but they are not raccoon proof. 

I made squirrel/raccoon baffles for the bird feeders, and so far there hasn't been any animals able to get past them.  I made the baffles using 6" stove pipe with a cap that has a hole just the size of the bird feeder post. To get past the baffle, the raccoon would have to get its front leg around the 6" stovepipe to climb, but it can't. One thing we learned from experience, though, was that the feeder has to be at least 15' from the nearest tree or the squirrels will go up the tree and jump onto the feeder.

It was very entertaining one night watching two raccoons trying to get over one of the baffles. One raccoon was standing at the base of the baffle with all four feet on the ground and its back humped up, and another was standing upright on the other's back trying to reach the top of the stovepipe so it could get hold of the pole that the bird feeders was hanging on. Every time it almost was able to reach the pole the stove pipe would swing and the raccoon would fall off. They kept trying for over an hour before finally giving up and going somewhere else.

Another time a squirrel ran up the pole and ended up inside the baffle. We could hear it running around post inside the baffle trying to find a way up to the feeder. Eventually it dropped out of the baffle to the ground and ran off.

Stovepipe baffle on the bird feeder pole.Dealing with Critters in Garden 20240531

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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/18/2024, 7:16 pm

Down at the farm where we used to live, I had what I called My Bluebird Trail. 12 boxes scattered around the farm. was down mowing 2 year ago and found 6 adult Bluebirds dead at the bottom of the power pole. The nest was gone along with 5 babies. I was sick and furious at the same time. Evidently the Bluebirds put out a distress call, the other nesting boxes responded and wound up dying. Chicken Snake, I assume.

I kept the Trail well maintained, chasing away the English Sparrows. I even fumigated the boxes once the babies were gone. Lots of times I would get two hatches out of the same box. I only have 2 boxes now, both full with just hatched babies. One of the nest has a monster Bluebird that is keeping the sparrows away. He is huge, the largest I have ever seen. 

Really great that you are a birder. Had a friend who was a hummingbird nut. 40 lbs. of sugar a week. thousands of hummingbirds and almost a hundred feeders. Birds weren't scared of him at all, they would land on him while he was replenishing the feeders. He bought sugar in hundred pound bags, usually 400 lbs. at a time. 

Hope I didn't offend you about the groundhog. I tried to trap another raccoon last night, didn't work, bait was gone, trap sprung but empty.  Don't give up on your garden. Mel's Mix gets better with age. Don't be frugal when you replenish a square with Mel's Mix. I keep a 55 gallon drum of ready to use MM. Any extra I have I store in the barrel. I also use a lot of Bone Meal and Blood Meal/Flaxseed Meal.
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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/18/2024, 8:53 pm

OhioGardener, I've tried baffles and 6 inch and 10 inch PVC pipe. Nothing worked until I found THE BROME STORE on Amazon. I was having problems with the BROHM feeders being on the ground and empty every morning. Put up a trail camera and it was amazing to watch. That raccoon would hang upside down, pull up the retaining tube with one paw and with the other paw pull the bottom of the feeder up at 90 degrees and then shake the feeder until it came loose. Those rascals are smart, but I solved the problem by using small spring clips to prevent the retaining tube from being pulled up. No more problems with the BROHM feeders. 

My wife bought me a couple of cage-type feeders. Those are the only ones that the raccoons are bothering now and I may have got that figured out. Thinking about wiring them to the Shepard's Hook. If your wife buys you something, you're probably pretty smart to keep it.

Still have groundhog problems. Two of my tomatoes had been chewed up this morning. A week or so ago, a big fat one came waddled up to my strawberry bed. She wasn't afraid of me at all, When she stood up, I could see teats on her.
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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/23/2024, 6:51 pm

Every time I tried to post in the pest section, I get a 404 notice. Maybe I can bookmark this post and get back to the pest/critters section. And I do have a lot of critter problems. At this time, all of my Romain and Black Seeded Simpson is gone, eaten down below grade. I have seen one big female groundhog, but I wasn't prepared for her and she got to her den before I could react. 

Several of my black tomatoes are no longer 4-5 foot tall and loaded with tomatoes, but now only about one foot tall. i think that the groundhogs have a sweet tooth because they are bypassing tomatoes and only destroying the black tomatoes. I've had no luck yet with my Have-A-Hearts. Groundhogs are somewhat of a challenge to catch. I have had good luck using ripe tomatoes but I don't have any yet.

I may have to go to the farm store and buy some extra ripe tomatoes. I can't stand much more destruction of my garden. I have a lot more stuff to put out but I am hesitant to plant anything else until the groundhog problem is resolved.
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Post  OhioGardener 5/23/2024, 7:19 pm

SMEDLEY BUTLER wrote:Every time I tried to post in the pest section, I get a 404 notice. Maybe I can bookmark this post and get back to the pest/critters section.

The direct links are broken, and can't be accessed. But, there is an easy workaround: First select "SFG Talk", and after that link opens select "Pests". Then you can select "New Topic" to start a new thread, or you can select an existing thread of that forum to reply to it.

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Post  Guinevere 5/23/2024, 9:15 pm

I recently moved to a house on a large lot.  The owners had clear cut a huge lawn around the house, and left only a ring of trees along the property lines.  I decided to stop mowing a large section of lawn at the north and west sides, and let it revert to natural meadow.  My SFG beds are in the middle of the mowed lawn.  I have noticed groundhogs all day, every day in the meadow.  They come up out of the ditch in the trees onto the meadow, all along the north edge, and they eat all the weeds that I don't like, and they are leaving the large tufts of native grasses that I love! What is surviving is sorrel, which I also love.  Most of my "grass" is actually clover and sorrel, because I do not try to keep a golf green lawn, so for now the groundhogs are actually helping me.  But will it last?

So far my vegetable beds have remained untouched by the groundhogs. . . .Maybe I'm optimistic, and when the weeds are gone, the critters will begin on the grass, then the veggies. . . and I'll end up with a patch of bare dirt where once was a meadow.  I've never dealt with groundhogs before, so I don't know what they might do.

I have noticed that since I began bringing in the bird feeders every night, I go through much less seed!
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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/24/2024, 12:15 am



The direct links are broken, and can't be accessed. But, there is an easy workaround: First select "SFG Talk", and after that link opens select "Pests". Then you can select "New Topic" to start a new thread, or you can select an existing thread of that forum to reply to it.
Thanks for the info. It worked like a charm. Now if I can just remember the procedure, I will be all right. But at my age, you never know.
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Post  SMEDLEY BUTLER 5/28/2024, 10:32 pm

I may have solved my groundhog problem. Ordered a motion activated water sprinkler, hope it works. If not, I am going to use the plastic folding tables that Brenda has. Was using one to build another raised bed and the idea hit me. I will have to buy her some more. Most of my, around 30, containers will go on the tables. Also I have enough pt lumber to build 6 more. Although that doesn't solve the groundhogs climbing up In the raised beds.

Maybe I can plant so many that they can't eat them all. Dealing with Critters in Garden 3170584802
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