Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dealing With Wild Critters {in the Garden & on the Farm}

I was listening to a CBC program talking about a Toronto man who allegedly tried to kill a family of baby raccoons with a shovel last week. Hearing some of the comments from folks who called in condoning this type of cruelty got me into a frothing rage.

I lived in downtown Toronto for over a decade, so I have a pretty good understanding of just how many raccoons live there and what type of mischief they can cause. There are measures in place and actions that can be taken to deal with them and to try and make one's property not so tempting.

It seems that many people fail to realize that the urbanized raccoons are partly our own creation. Raccoons have been adaptive enough {just like crows!} to thrive in our urban settings. But they are not the problem; if anyone is, it is us humans. We spread like roaches and then complain when wildlife "infringes" on our territory.

Raccoons are a part of the GTA landscape, and if folks don't like it, perhaps they should GTFO. And as far as the cruel assholes are concerned, they can go drown in the filthy waters of Lake Ontario {the raccoons sure as hell are not responsible for that now, huh?}.

********* rant done *********

Having a stead in a smaller Northern Ontario city has its own challenges. We do get raccoons, but also have visits from skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, and we have and deer in our immediate area. If we lived in a more remote part of town we would also have wolves, bears, foxes {and apparently cougars as well!} to potentially deal with.

When it comes to our garden, the most challenging critters {besides earwigs} have been squirrels and chipmunks. We like to put seeds and nuts out for them every day to keep them out, but if we happen to forget, we will pay for it with them digging up our seeds, nomming our peas and beans, or wreaking havoc on our tomatoes and sunflowers. As long as we put out yum yums for them I find that they are very agreeable neighbours.

Fellow Northerner Medusae had a recent battle with raccoons in her garden and she put vinegar around it and apparently it is working quite well at keeping them away. Here is a short article with pretty good tips on how to keep raccoons out of the garden and here is an interesting Nature of Things show called Raccoon Nation.

I have seen folks use many different methods to keep deer out of their gardens. One of my friends urinates every day around his veggie patch, and a farmer friend hangs Irish Spring in pantyhose around her lettuce. Others will grow deer resistant varieties of plants {Soggy Creek has an heirloom cabbage that is supposed to do the trick!}, or have REALLY high fencing.

My Aunt has lots of deer that come by her property, yet she can even have tulips and roses while all of her neighbours' gardens are mowed down to the roots. She will be cheeky and say that her success is because she "has an agreement" with the deer, but it is probably because she feeds them all Winter, and the big patches of pansies and lettuce she plants for them to eat.

My other Aunt has a healthy population of black bears around her. Having a big dog helps, but she still cannot keep a bird feeder in the summer and her garbage has to be locked in the garage until it is taken to the dump. With some common sense bears should pass on through.

Having livestock can create a whole new list of challenges. Obviously having guard critters can help {one friend keeps a donkey for her goats!}, locking cluckers and other poultry safely into their coop/shelter, electric fencing, and keeping areas well lit are all supposed to help. These are great articles to check out: here, here, and here.

Please do feel free to share what you do or methods that you have heard about. :)



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bek said...

I like your rant, it's true: we've put the balance out.

I can't imagine having to fend off raccoons - and bears though!!

Medusae said...

What a great post! Yeah, raccoons can be a pain, but I totally hear you about it being their space. I lulled @ "filthy waters of Lake Ontario"! XD So true!

HAHA I'd heard of the urination trick - but even I have my limits! heheheh
The Irish Spring idea is inspired! I might give that a go.

From the pics, your garden seems well protected so far. Mebbe you have an 'agreement' with the raccoons?.... ARE YOU PAYING THEM 'PROTECTION' MONEY??!

nefaeria said...

Beks: What critters do you folks tend to deal with over there? Lemme guess: those cute badgers? :D

Medusae: I hope things are still working for you! I do hear you on the pissing front, although it would probably be a lot easier with different parts. ;)

Our garden is certainly quite protected. The backyard is surrounded by big old trees and various shrubs/bushes. But no bribing the raccoons here...I think they are more interested in neighbour's properties. :)