Monday, April 2, 2012

Pesky Yard Animals: Some You Live With, Some You Get Rid Of...

Being a country girl, I always thought that I could live with any animals in my yard. I have had deer, possums, gophers, skunks, rabbits, squirrels, mallard ducks, woodchucks and now groundhogs.

The family of skunks was living under the front porch when I moved in. They never bothered me. The smell they use as a defense sometimes wafted into the open windows in summer when other animals threatened them. My daughter had to be bathed in tomato juice once as a child. On the whole we co-existed. I rather think the skunk is a beautiful animal. The family could be seen in late afternoons parading back to the garden for their dinner. I didn't bother them and they didn't bother me. We basically kept out of each other's way. My brother warned me that even though I was not afraid of them they were afraid of me. He encouraged me to take steps to keep them out of the yard. Installing the pool and making smaller garden areas has discouraged some of the animal activity. It also caused other problems. For instance, the animals just love burrowing beneath the shed that contains the pool equipment and the smaller one that contains the gardening supplies and equipment. 

Possums, on the other hand are a bit more scary. I don't like that many toothed grin they give you after dark when you interrupt their foraging. I have done all I can to encourage those grinning jokers to move on. I don't like that smile. My grandma used to encourage me to trap them. She liked the meat and when we lived in the south my Mom always made sure that there was at least one dinner in which the grinning little monster was served. I can't say that I enjoyed eating that meal. Chewy, my little dog has been instrumental in running them off. He has killed several of their young. Moth balls, moth flakes, and sulfur has discouraged them from taking up residence beneath the pool house. I have also dug down deep around the structure and buried fencing too small for them to crawl through to the safety of the warm underside. I noticed yesterday that something else may have taken up residence.

Gophers are rarely seen, but they leave their trails in the lawn. I have stepped down into what seemed like solid ground several times and found that I was standing in a tunnel. They are also afraid of the dog and the cats in the area. The activity of the Landscapers discourage their activity. They are not very good fighters and seem to have moved on.

Last year, there was a family of mallard ducks. The  grandchildren loved them. The mother was very upset when I moved aside some of the lumber piled up by my brother when he finished building my outdoor living area pictured here. She and her chicks had wintered beneath the lumber behind the pool house. She ran away screaming in a voice that I did not know ducks possessed. I resisted the temptation of cuddling her babies. I have heard stories about leaving that human smell on wild things. I placed them beneath the deck and she found them after skulking about the yard for an entire day. I thought that making my yard more  civilized and less like the country as my granddaughter calls it, that the animals would go away. I was wrong. I think they rather like the shelter we built them. 

The rabbits were the hardest to determine what to do. They also winter in the lawn. There is nothing worse than accidentally killing the mother of several small babies with the first spring mowing. I have taken to walking through the yard and examining each small burrow to make certain it is not whats left of a winter home. The tiny babies do not last once the mommy is dead. Explaining those cute little babies to the kids after they are gone is no fun. There are few rescue organizations for baby rabbits, especially that tiny. We were all teary eyed when we lost them.

I had never thought too much about the groundhog. He is a new tenant. He is very bold. My grandson and I watch him from the 
bedroom sliding doors. His lack of fear prompted me to read up on him  and I do not like what I learned. It seems that the little bugger can be very dangerous to humans and small pets. I am not as young and brave as I once was. The groundhog has taken over my backyard. He now has three babies. The family frolics around as if they own the yard. I am in the process of calling in the professionals to get rid of he and his brood. For the first time since moving into my home I am a little uneasy in my own yard. The 3 and 5 year old must be watched constantly and warned not to approach or play with any animals they see in the yard. It is really beginning to feel like the country for the first time in many years.
These granules have been suggested to get rid of groundhogs and other pests. They contain coyote urine and repels the animals. I have ordered it and will let you know if it works.  Shake Away.

No comments: