Thursday, May 28, 2009


One of the biggest challenges for gardeners, especially in a place like ours that's deep in the woods, is the constant battle against the critters who want to eat the yummy things we grow. We've managed to keep the deer out by installing an 8 foot high fence that surrounds our whole yard, about an acre and a half. It runs through the woods, nailed to the trees so its unobtrusive to us but keeps the big guys out.

Within that frame we have a smaller fence that surrounds the vegetable garden to keep groundhogs and rabbits at bay. We've had major groundhog battles for years that led me to actually take a course in how to handle and shoot a 22 rifle a couple of years ago through the NC Wildlife Commission's "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" program.

This past week we came home after being gone all day to discover that a ground hog had managed to get one of the makeshift gates to the vegetable garden open and he had helped him self to most of the lettuce and ate the tender centers out of the best looking crop of lacinato kale I've ever grown, I was planning to harvest it this week.
Ground hog ravaged kale

Squirrels are our other nemesis. Impossible to keep out of anywhere, I've pondered razor wire in the orchard. They have now eaten every single peach off of our young peach tree, peaches we were really looking forward to. All of this prompted me to finally make a target and take the 22 rifle that David bought over the winter down into the woods. After about 30 rounds and gradual adjustment of the scope I got the thing properly sited and ready to go, and got some target practice in as well. Since then we've killed 5 squirrels. Our clever technique involves shooting at them through the kitchen window when they come up to scavenge seed from under the bird feeder, they don't ever see it coming.
Now I feel pretty bad about taking these guys out and I don't like to see them suffer when I make a less than perfect shot. I know they are just trying to survive, but I really want to harvest some berries this season and last summer they completely tore up both the blackberry canes and the blueberry bushes climbing around on them and eating most of the fruit before it was even close to ripe. So call me a murderer, I am.
Just now David called to me that Chucky was in the yard, there had been no sign of him, I thought the sound of gunfire was keeping him away. I took a shot at him but missed and he scurried off into his hole. Ground hogs are wiley, I've only managed to kill one in the past two years and it was trapped inside the vegetable garden.
I'm curious to see how many squirrels we might kill before it seems like we got them all. I know of course, that we will never get them all, but you can't knock a girl for trying.
Just call me Annie Oakley.


Anonymous said...

We improved the soil, which attracted earthworms, which attracted moles, which attracted voles. Anyone have a terrier they want to exercise?

Stew said...

Brunswick stew, anyone?