Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

The Wildlife Tax

June 29th, 2016

This year the wildlife tax has been really high for the strawberries. We have a large patch of berries, they are one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fruits. There are two, 70 foot long rows that are 3-4 four feed wide. Last year we froze around 40 quarts for winter. This year we lost the first flush of berries to waxwings. A flock of about 15-20 of them came in and gobbled up about 12 quarts of berries in one night.
cedar waxwing
We realized what was happening and covered the berries with row cover to protect them. The few nights later, the raccoons came in and ripped holes in the cover and ate the ripening strawberries. Thankfully we aren’t keeping pigs this year, so we have just enough electric fencing to surround the big garden.
homegrown strawberries 1
After building Fort Knox around the strawberries, we were finally able to harvest a few quarts. We celebrated with shortcake for dinner that night and the next night as well. Generally we love to share our bounty with friends and neighbors, but there hasn’t been enough berries for that.
homegrown strawberries 2
Overall we lost about 50% of our harvest this year to wildlife. Since there has been a drought this spring in Maine, the harvest was already reduced as well. Luckily we have a large patch and are still getting a few for the freezer and a few for eating. At least we have a large enough patch that we are still getting a few berries for the table. Next year I will definitely be covering the berries really early to protect them from the birds and the electric fence will most likely go up around the garden first thing in the spring.

What methods do you employ to protect plants from marauding wildlife? 

Hello Tom

April 20th, 2016

Tom has been dancing for all the turkey hens, he’s quite a handsome fellow. Of course the ladies pretty much ignore him all the time. That doesn’t deter him, he still spends all day dancing and puffing his feathers to show them how handsome he is. I’m quite happy with him, he’s a real gentleman. He’s never shown even a hint of aggression towards me. This year I’ll be letting my muscovy hen hatch out ducklings, but I’m not sure if I’ll be letting any of the turkeys set, we shall see. I am selling fertile hatching eggs though, I’m happy to provide these for other locals who want to raise turkeys and don’t have toms or hens.
Bourbon Bronze Turkey (1)
Of course it’s mating season with all the wild birds as well. I enjoy hearing and seeing them all flitting about the garden and starting the process of bringing up the next generation of pest control for my garden. We have a pair of nesting crows and they’ve been madly building their nest in the pine grove below the house. They are a joy to watch!

Have you been noticing bird courting in your garden?

The Early Bird

March 28th, 2016

It’s like the robins know when spring officially arrived, on the first day of spring I saw a few robins in the apple tree out front. Later in the week there were flocks of hundreds.
robins in spring 1
They are everywhere, scratching in the leaf litter, eating worms, doing what birds love to do.
robins in spring 2
When we lived in Ohio we’d see robins here and there, even throughout the winter. Here they leave and then come back in droves. It’s quite an amazing things. I’ve been noticing the birds, more and more of them each week. I hear them singing now when I’m outside, it’s a beautiful thing, birdsong, music to my ears. Spring has sprung!

What birds are harbingers of spring in your garden?

Hey Guys

March 16th, 2016

Yesterday I looked out the back window and saw four wild turkey toms huffing and gobbling away trying to impress our turkey hens. They were out there for a couple of hours, the ladies ignored them all the entire time.
This always makes me laugh, turkeys are funny birds, such a joy to have around! It’s been great watching our flock interact and learning about their nature. The ladies just started laying eggs last week, I’m trying to decide if I want to let them hatch any out this spring.

What wildlife are you seeing in your garden?


September 10th, 2015

Where I lived in Ohio for many years there was a big Wooly Bear Festival. The wooly bear caterpillar signaled what kind of winter we were going to have (see more over at the Farmer’s Almanac), they were harbingers of what was to come. As a kid, we’d look high and low for them and compare notes as to what they were saying about the upcoming winter. Earlier this week I spotted an all blonde one in the garden and had to think about what exactly that meant. That means a mild winter, the middle of the wooly bear is supposed to signal the milder portion of winter, the dark brown the harsh parts.
Wooly Bear Caterpillar
Of course I’ve seen my share of regular ones too. It’s certainly not scientifically accurate, but it’s a great way to get young ones interested in nature and to help keep them from killing every insect they see.

What are the wooly bears in your garden telling you about this coming winter?

Also Find Me At
Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.