Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nature Notes: Chucking the 'Chucks

Well, so much for living with the woodchucks. They are not team players. I had to chase one out of the garden, and another dug under the workshop floor and emerged inside the building. Hubby was not amused.

I can't say as I blame him. Hubby has been spending most of his free time trying to fence the critters out of all the places we don't want them, but they always find another way. Hubby has exercised amazing restraint for a man who owns a 22.

So here's the new plan:

Operation Chuck the 'Chucks
1. Trap them.
2. Blindfold them.
3. Drive them around in circles for a while to confuse them.
4. Take them to the back of our own property, about a quarter mile from the house, and release them.


Our first attempt at trapping was a miserable failure. The chucks were too light to trip the trap, even with two of them in it, so basically we were just feeding them carrots.

Hubby created a wooden plank to weight the mechanism and tried again. The chucks still bounced in and out of the trap all day. Hubby dutifully replenished the carrot supply and continued to fiddle with the cage. By the time we caught one, the chuck was too stuffed from all the food to care.

Off to a New Home

Operation Chuck the 'Chucks

The "blindfold" in place, Hubby set off to drive around in aimless circles for a while, then let the little varmint loose back in the woods. It wandered off peacefully and, we hope, will settle in back there. Had the trap worked better, all of them would have been released together the same day. We're hoping to reunite the little gang of outlaws next weekend.

   Visit Michelle's blog, Rambling Woods, for more Nature Notes

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nature Notes: It's a Zoo Out There

There's so much going on in my yard this week that it's going to be hard to fit it all in.


A smallish snapping turtle wandered through. They don't usually leave the water, so it was either a male looking for territory or a female looking for a nesting place. I love to see them walk; their gait is like an alligator's, with the belly lifted completely off the ground. You don't want to get anywhere within striking distance of those jaws, so closeups are a bit risky. (See what I'll do for you guys?)


The only baby birds I've seen yet are cowbirds. Two of  the little buggers, both being fed by chipping sparrows. We have fewer cowbirds hanging around than we used to, because I've moved their favorite seed into a caged feeder they cannot access and the woodchucks are doing a fine job of cleaning up any spilled seed.


The garden is up and growing, and we've added fruit this year. We've planted apple, cherry, and peach trees plus blueberry bushes and grapes.


The veggies include corn, tomatoes, snow peas, lettuces, peppers, canteloupe, cucumbers, and beans.
There are two kinds of beans, a hybrid and an heirloom. The hybrids hit the ground running, but the heirlooms have been slower to germinate, slower growing, and prone to insect attacks. Which, I suppose, is why people started creating hybrids in the first place.

Updates on previous posts:

1. The Neighbor. My husband approached him about the mowing on our side, and he apologized for getting carried away with his new tractor. It's too late for this year's milkweed, but it's a relief that it won't be an issue going forward. However, a huge backhoe has appeared over there, to be used to build an earth mound in the woods to stop the bullets on the firing range. I've decided to accept the things I cannot change, and to adapt to the changes as they come. Happiness is, after all, a choice.

2. The Salamanders. They're a little bigger, but they don't look any different yet. However, I did spot five toes on the back feet of one, so I'm pretty sure they are going to be spotted salamanders like this one:


3. The Woodchucks. Oh man, the woodchucks. They've gotten visibly bigger in just a week, and are starting to dig dens of their own, most recently under the potting shed. The hubby spent hours Saturday installing a heavy metal grate to stop them. The garden is heavily fenced, but the gate is a weak spot. I'm sure they can squeeze under if they try, so that's the next project.

We've elected not to trap and relocate, because we have no place to release them that won't cause trouble for the chucks or for other people. But if they get into the garden I can't guarantee their continued safety.


Click here to visit Michelle's site, Rambling Woods, and see more Nature Notes

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nature Notes: Trouble With Triples


Three woodchuck babies emerged this week from the den under the front porch. Like the Star Trek tribbles, they're furry, cute, extremely destructive, and multiplying exponentially.

Longtime visitors may remember our adventures with the patriarch of what has become the groundhog clan: "What About Chuck?" By sinking metal barriers into the ground  around the pole barn and constant harassment, we eventually persuaded Chuck to move on.

Since then, we have waged ongoing battles with chucks under the potting shed, the back deck, and the front porch. We have tried cat litter, coyote urine, hair, mothballs, blocking den entrances and even electric fencing. Having utterly failed to drive them off,  we eventually just got used to the idea of  living with them. But it's getting ridiculous. Counting babies, there are now seven. That I know of.

There is so much contradictory information online about these guys: They're peaceful/they can be suddenly aggressive; they carry rabies/rabies in marmots is rare; they damage foundations/no they don't; trapping and relocation is an option/they rarely survive that, so shooting them is more humane. Wildlife rehabers won't even return my phone messages about them.

One thing is certain, and that is that they are a royal pain. I gave up on flower beds and having container plants on the deck years ago, because the chucks eat them on sight. Last year, they were apparently curious about what was inside the gazebo, so they completely shredded the netting that served as its walls to get inside. They chew the wood at the edges of the deck. I've had to relocate the bird feeders, because otherwise chucks sit on the deck railing and munch away at them. They cause marital discord between myself and the hubby, who has wanted to shoot them from day one.

But c'mon. Could you shoot these guys?

If any of you have suggestions, I 'm all ears. Because this is way to much "nature" for me.

Click here to visit Michelle's site, Rambling Woods, and see more Nature Notes