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October 7th, 2015

When you have birds and livestock you learn quickly that predators must be controlled. We do what we can to be predator friendly, I recognize that they are valuable in the grand scheme of things and don’t have the time to be constantly watching out for them. They can become a problem when they lose fear of humans and become pests, which they sometimes do. We’ve done what we can around here to be predator friendly, we have Tara (our Anatolian Shepherd) to scare them off, we have electric fences to keep the birds contained, we have cleared areas to help keep them away from the buildings and birds. For the most part I see foxes here and there throughout the day. They don’t bother the birds unless they get out of their electric fences. I see lots of coyote tracks in the winter, but they stay away from the house & the cleared areas.
Monday, I was working in the garden and looked up to see a coyote watching me work. Tara was barking and it was unfazed. I got up and walked towards it and took this photo with my phone (my good camera was inside). It just sat down and watched me. I yelled at it and it didn’t budge. Most predators I don’t mind as they’re smaller and don’t bother the cats, coyotes can and will grab pets if they can. I know of several people who have lots pets to them. I had Dexter and the Littles out working with me in the garden right before I spotted this predator. And so begins the task of trying to figure out how to keep these guys farther away from the fields and the house. When they lose their wariness of humans and guard dogs they can become a big problem, I’m going to be doing my best to help them remember why they should stay away from humans. It looks like I might be carrying a gun while I work in the garden, just in case I need it. I’ll be contacting places about the price of a perimeter fence and maybe start looking into other methods of deterring the coyotes from getting so close. Perhaps a big fence and another Anatolian is in order, but of course that’s a pricey venture.

What predators do you deal with in your garden? 

Cats in the Garden

November 5th, 2011

I’ve proclaimed my love of cats many times, and no doubt you’ve seen them in many photos. You’ve heard all about Miss Mama, the feral cat that moved her kitten into the garage, and Little Softie, the kitten that beat the odds. Up until Miss Mama, we had never had an outdoor cat. We really needed one, as we live in a rural area and have mice, chipmunks, and moles in abundance. With other natural predators in limited numbers, these little varmints can take over quite quickly. We used a variety of methods to deal with them, until Miss Mama moved in.

Now that Miss Mama is gone, Little Softie has taken over rank as chief hunter. She patrols the gardens keeping them clear of all little furies that love to eat strawberries and crocus bulbs. She’s still half feral, but is starting to come around, she loves a good ear scratch daily.

One of our indoor cats has also become a hybrid, spending his days in the garden and his nights in the house. Having cats in the garden is a wonderful thing. These two follow me around the garden and are never far behind. The force me to take breaks so they can get some love, and they make me laugh all the time with their crazy antics of climbing trees and chasing each other around.

The only problem having outdoor cats is that they don’t always eat their catch. We often find chipmunks under the cars, moles on our welcome mats, mice and birds in the garden beds, and last week a dead rabbit on the front porch. It used to bother me when they caught songbirds, but then I realized that predators play an important role in keeping the various species healthy. They keep the weak and sick from reproducing. I remember learning about this long ago in the movie Never Cry Wolf. Mother Earth News also had a great article about the importance of predators this summer.

Chiot’s Run will never be without an outdoor cat, not only do they help keep the rodent population under control, they are outstanding garden companions. We also appreciate that since we got outdoor our cats we no longer have to worry about mice building nests in our cars like we always had before.

Do you have any garden companions of the four legged type? What methods of rodent control do you find most effective in your garden?

Reading & Watching

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.