Promised update: so far, so good using the Magic Potion (see the preceding article). A Praying Mantis was accidentally sprayed while going over the Spider Flowers, and he just turned his big-eyed head and looked at me. No more munching grasshoppers as far as I can tell. All God’s insects have their purpose and their place around the home and garden (I grudgingly suppose), but managing them is the key. Just like adopting the “live and let live” policy with the various wildlife that inhabits our immediate vicinity. And now, we think we have a skunk living under the porch (the odor always gives them away - never mind that we’ve seen him visiting with the cats). So, groundhog family, visiting raccoons (one year we had several generations living in the attic - cute little bandit babies and all), opossum poachers (they love the cat food), garden snakes, brown snakes (one of which I picked up while pulling weeds - THAT is another story), various garden pests, moles (who have had their share of the garden bounty from the roots up)…
I say we try to “live and let live”; but that is more GB than me, really. I have been known to holler loud enough for the various backyard varmints to hear me, that I want them “dead, all dead!” They can be destructive to the property (especially raccoons, who have, more than once, destroyed screening and woodwork), make messes, eat huge holes in the just-about-to-be-picked cantaloupe, dig holes in the yard and garden, disrupt plantings, scare me to death, make my stomach turn (possums, you know who you are), smell up the place, and wreak general mayhem. Raccoons are cute, so are the groundhogs (did you know groundhogs are just big ‘ol rodents?). And their offspring. (Raccoons have, over the past few years, placed themselves on my list of undesirables, though. They can be very mean and are the most destructive of all our backyard visitors.) I understand that ‘good’ insects have their place among my flowers, herbs, and vegetables. I love honeybees. Skunks and possums, well, they just cannot live in the backyard. They really are not invited to visit anymore, either. Skunks are prettier in person than they are in pictures, but fear of their noxious spray makes me antsy. Snakes are the unmentionables, even though stories of their benefit to the gardens have been floating around since I was young.
How do we manage? Well, we trap those that are the most harmful and cart them off to the uninhabited locales around the lake. Our wonderful, elderly neighbor told us once that we were just foisting off our problem onto someone else; and that comment still haunts me. We called our city’s animal control office once to tell them we had captured a raccoon, but they said they would only take care of pests if they were trapped within their own live traps. Hmmm, great management style. If we ever see signs of marauding armadillos, well, I guess the war would be on. Knowing that some of these creatures may carry disease makes them even less welcome. Skunks can carry rabies, and armadillos, leprosy.
Mostly, we try to deter. We block up holes they’ve dug in the ground, shoo them away, use sprays, and find their dens and destroy them (to encourage them to move on). GB hasn’t dispatched one in a long while. He hates to kill any wildlife that we’re not going to eat. I don’t always feel so lenient. Maybe the mother part of me that wants to protect and take care of what we have worked so hard to achieve. Management and stewardship sometimes means being a hard-liner. Maybe?
I guess we’ll just look at it this way: we have a lovely, ‘wild’ property that is inviting. Right in the middle of town. Humans, as well as, animals love the yard and the proximity to flowing water. We have horse pastures next door and a large Bed and Breakfast property across the creek. We are fans of the wilderness and want parts of our property to exhibit that. With a love of the wild comes — wildlife. In addition, how can we begrudge them if they wander into a cultivated area with luscious fruits and vegetables? Well, I may sometimes begrudge them; but they are only doing as their natures direct. Therefore, we work to manage them, try not to curse them (sometimes unsuccessfully), and hope to adopt a happy coexistence attitude.
With “try” being the operative word.