Archive for the ‘skunks’ Tag

03-30-2018 My Wildlife Welfare System   Leave a comment

Being a lifelong animal lover has it’s ups and downs and living here in Maine makes things even more interesting.  With the harsh winters and constant snow cover the wildlife here has become quite  deligent in their hunt for food. I’ve been a loyal bird feeder for most of my life because I really enjoy having the birds around.  My better-half is also a bird lover and we currently have six feeders we keep filled.  I estimate the birds are eating close to 125 lbs. of feed a year  not counting the many packages of suet we purchase to keep the woodpeckers healthy and happy. Add to that two or three quarts of sugar syrup for the hummingbirds and you begin to truly understand.

It became apparent some months ago that the birds living in this area have a rather accomplished communication system to spread the news concerning food sources and the location of predators. This came to my attention when a herd of wild turkeys showed up out of nowhere and began feeding from the food accidently dropped from our hanging feeders.  Needless to say my better-half was quick to buy more corn and began strewing it everywhere. That’s all they needed to make our home the number one spot on their regular feeding rotation. With the heavy snow cover this winter they needed to do something inventive to help them survive the winter.  Thus began the feeding of a another new group of dependents that I couldn’t claim on my taxes. As always I just went along thinking that would be the last of the additions to our extended family of two hundred or so really hungry birds.  I was sadly mistaken once again.

Last year I erected a squirrel feeder on a nearby tree hoping it might convince the little buggers to stay away from the bird feeders. Once again, no good deed goes unpunished. We found out very quickly that turkeys and the occasional deer are also fond of corn.  So began the battle for the corn that lasted most of the summer and into the winter. My better-half still insists on bringing home an endless supply of corn to keep the battle going.  I left one of the bags sitting in the basement and hoped she would forget about it.  She forgot for a time but the field mice did not.  They like corn too and we soon found ourselves overrun with mice. Since the untimely demise of my lifelong best friend, my cat Stormy it’s been difficult to keep them under control.  He died a year ago and the mice discovered his absence rather quickly.  A new war was a brew’n.

A quick visit to Lowes supplied me with an armload of mouse traps and a determination to keep the mice out of our home.  I did discover that putting cheese in a mousetrap is a waste of time.  At first the mice were able to pull the cheese from the trap without harming themselves.  After some research I discovered that JIFF creamy peanut butter really gets the job done.  I’ve peeled 13 little corpses off those traps so far and I hope there will be many more to come. I toss their little corpses out onto the snow bank in the backyard where the crows and coyotes fight over the free meal.  At least with the mice I only have to feed them once.

I wish that was the end of this sad story but no such luck.  Next on my list is a large group of industrious little chipmunks who have quite a nice residence under our home.  My father always told me if you see one chipmunk you probable have at least ten. If that’s true then we may have upwards of a hundred roaming around. Oh yeah, they also love corn and bird seed just like damn near everyone else. It’s a little more difficult for them because they’re so small and the birds are constantly chasing them away.

I’ll begin working in our garden within the next few weeks and “Job 1” is to be certain that the fences are intact.  All these little varmints, birds, deer, and skunks are just waiting for me to make a mistake and then my garden will be trashed.  Don’t even get me started about that big fat skunk that patrols our property looking for trouble.  If he was any bigger I could just ride him around  like a horse.

So begins another summer here in Maine.  It should be interesting.

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05-22-2016 Journal – Spring Has Sprung . . Finally!   Leave a comment

I was beginning to wonder if Spring would ever arrive but as always it has. Finally the fear of frost has passed and we can start getting serious about gardening.  Todays posting will be a few miscellaneous items about the garden and other things.  Our day today has already been planned and as soon as I leave this computer I’ll be back playing in the dirt once again.

My first item concerns something I mentioned in a recent post about my new favorite drink, the Hot Pepper Margarita.  I collected all of the ingredients needed to get things rolling and here it is. This photo was taken after two days of the peppers soaking in tequila.

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I can already seen the peppers losing their colors as the tequila bleaches them and it won’t be long before it will be ready for use. One more week and then I’ll strain the tequila and put it back into it’s bottles. Then the fun can begin.

I began planting in earnest this week with zucchinis, cucumbers, onions, kohlrabi’s, and eggplant.   Later today I’ll finish up with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, Thai peppers, and Kung Pao peppers.  Now that the nights are warming up the peppers should flourish.

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I began my night time skunk patrol this week.  He made his first stinky visit a few days ago and has been digging up the ground in and around the garden already.  The fence will keep him out of the larger frames but if he insists on causing problem in the unprotected frames he’ll be risking his stinky and smelly life.  My new rifle has been cleaned and oiled and is ready for action.  “Go ahead sucker . . . make my day.”

Here’s an update wide angle photo of the garden as it begins to grow. 

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THANK GOD IT’S FINALLY SPRING

04-18-2016 Journal–Garden Fence & Humor!   Leave a comment

More aches and pains as the garden begins to take shape.  I’m trying to do as much work on it as I possibly can as early as I can. Last years efforts were almost ruined because I waited until the last minute to do much of the small things that are necessary.  Learning from my mistakes is absolutely essential if I’m to have the garden I want.

Yesterday was another chilly morning but I was up and at it earlier than usual. I picked up my supplies the day before from Home Depot, the only store in the area that carried the type of fencing I needed.  Here is the before photo on the newly completed frame without the fencing.

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The fencing is made for controlling small animals such as rabbits and skunks which are my main problem. We have larger game in the area but they’ve never ben a problem for me. Fortunately I have a nearby neighbor with fruit trees and the deer love their fruit.  The insist on visiting him on a regular basis and leaving me alone.

After an hour or so of cursing and swearing my job was completed.  That should keep the little buggers out of the garden this year. I really dislike killing any animals so the cost of the fence is worth it to keep me guilt free.  Here’s the photo of the completed fence.

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If the weather warms up a little in the coming days I can drag out my rototiller to loosen up the soil. Then I can lay down the fabric into the frames which eliminates weeding completely because I hate weeding.

How about a little garden humor to start your day . . .

A woman’s garden is growing beautifully but the darn tomatoes won’t ripen.  There’s a limit to the number of uses for green tomatoes and she’s getting tired of it.  So she goes to her neighbor and says, "Your tomatoes are ripe, mine are green. What can I do about it?”  Her neighbor replies, "Well, it may sound absurd but here’s what to do. Tonight there’s no moon. After dark go out into your garden and take all your clothes off.  Tomatoes can see in the dark and they’ll be embarrassed and blush. In the morning they’ll all be red, you’ll see.”  Well, what the heck?   She does it.  The next day her neighbor asks how it worked.  "So-so,” she answers,  "The tomatoes are still green but the cucumbers are all four inches longer.”

Here’s a salute to everyone’s favorite redneck gardener, Jeff Foxworthy . . .

You Might be a Redneck Gardener If:

 
You mow your lawn and find a wheelbarrow.
You think a chain saw is a musical instrument.
You move your refrigerator and the grass underneath it is yellow.
You don’t water your front yard rather than mow it.
You know how many bags of fertilizer your car can hold.
You’ve even cleaned your house with a leaf blower.
You empty the trash when you have enough to fill up the pickup. 
You can amuse yourself for more that an hour with a hose.
You’ve been cited for reckless driving on a riding lawn mower. 
You move your weed-eater to take a bath.

And finally here is a cute limerick which any Maine gardener will appreciate . . .

I ordered some new bulbs by mail

and tried to grow orchids large scale

exotics won’t grow

under three feet of snow

or battered with blizzards and hail!

C’MON WARM WEATHER

07-11-2015 Journal – Garden Update!   Leave a comment

With warm weather finally arriving the garden is almost out of control.  Many of the plants that were previously damaged by my marauding skunk have recovered. Almost every pepper plant of which there are many are now blooming and others already have jalapeños that are ready to be harvested.

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The newly installed fence has completely stopped all of our little woodland friends from nosing around at night but there are indications that one of them has been testing the fence, trying to find a way in.  I could see tracks in the dew on the grass where the skunk has completely circled the garden checking every inch of the fence.  If he keeps this nonsense up I may be forced to remove him permanently.  I was hoping I could avoid bloodshed but maybe not.

The better-half’s flower gardens are in a constant state of color and are looking gorgeous.  She has such a large variety of flowers that there always seems to be something blooming somewhere on the property.

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After a two year wait I’ve begun to harvest my rhubarb.  During the better-half’s jam making frenzy last week it was used for the first time to make strawberry/rhubarb jam.  I had some of the finished product for breakfast yesterday and it was well worth waiting for.  It’s amazing that such an ugly plant can taste so damn good.

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Last evening we had guests for dinner which I prepared on the grill. The better-half’s dessert was a rhubarb/strawberry/blackberry/blueberry crisp.  It was even more delicious than it sounds. A nice big piece of that crisp with a huge dollop of Kool-Whip.  It just doesn’t get much better than that.

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At the rate the garden is growing we’ll soon be very busy with pickle making and canning.  Without a doubt this will be a year where everything exceeds all of our expectations.

06-15-2015 Journal – Death to All Skunks!   Leave a comment

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I’m still in bed this morning because it’s raining, I’m all warm and cozy, and I don’t wanna get up. The Spring season is slowly moving towards Summer and most of my ridiculous yard and garden related chores have been completed. Except for one.

I have to say that I’m still a bit irritated that I haven’t been able to put an end to my night marauder who is haunting my garden.  For some reason for the first time in years I have an effing skunk who has been undoing most of my good works in the garden almost every night. This fat bastard has been patrolling our property for some years without ever bothering the garden.  He apparently discovered an abundant supply of worms and/or grubs in the soil and has been digging for them furiously. The fact that he has killed many of my plants in the process is the source of my current anger.

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‘This isn’t him but it could be his twin brother.’

On top of it all this damn skunk is huge.  If he grows just a little more I could probably put a saddle on him and take a ride. He also has a habit of spraying anything and everything in his immediate area if bothered.  A year of so ago the neighbor’s cat had a midnight run-in with him which resulted in our backyard reeking of skunk for many days.  I really don’t want that happening again.

My secret plan was to sit on my deck with a pistol in my lap and hopefully put a stop to all of the night time nonsense.  I sat quietly the first night until 3 am reading my Kindle and maintaining a close surveillance of the garden.  It was a quiet night with no activity.  Then it began to rain which immediately chased me off to bed. I slept the sleep of angels knowing that the garden was safe for the night. What a moron I am.  I awoke in the morning and walked out to the garden and the place was a mess.  He’d been busy digging up tomatoes, cucumbers, and a number of pepper plants  and did it all in a driving rainstorm.  To say I was not happy would be a huge understatement.

I spent the next night on the deck armed, dangerous, and pissed off.  I never heard or saw a thing and the next morning more plants had been destroyed. That SOB is making me a little crazy.  I’ve since replanted all of the damaged plants and I’ll continue to monitor things as best I can and rid myself of this pest.

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I have a bad history withy skunks and as a young guy was known to hunt them. My father paid me and a friend a bounty for each one eliminated from damaging his garden.  The smell of skunk still makes me a little queasy since I was sprayed one hot summer evening in 1962. I was on my knees looking under a shed for an escaping skunk and BAM, he was right there and sprayed me across the side of my head.  Be warned, that is not something you ever want to experience.  I was forced to shave my head by my mother and wash it thoroughly numerous times with tomato juice.  Nothing really worked very well and for more than a month every time my head got wet or sweaty you could smell skunk.  A lost a few friends that summer.

With any luck at all before summer’s end I’ll soon be posting a photo of his corpse.  He’s mocked me long enough and now it’s personal.

My Rule #6 – Don’t screw with my garden, or else.

01-26-2014 Journal Entry – I Love the Nightlife!   1 comment

There was a time time in my life when I was the ultimate night person.  I slept all day and worked and played all night.  After work I’d  visit a variety of clubs and bars returning home in the wee hours of the morning.  It was a great time in my life because everyone knows the best shit happens after dark in the middle of the night.

I worked those hours for more than five years.  My job required visits to massage parlors (not officially as a patron), strip joints (not officially as a paying customer), and even the occasional brothel (again, not as a paying customer).  I became educated very quickly to the unbelievable quantity of nightlife activities, how to enjoy them, and even more important, how to survive them.

The more things change the more they remain the same.  All these years later I’m discovering a whole new word of nightlife here in Maine that I’ve been totally unaware of.  We live in what could be called a rural area.  Our home is adjacent to a small river and a large forest of pines.  We live far enough out that without assistance from technology (range extender) we can’t receive cell phone signals and are not registering on most GPS devices.  It’s like living in Never-Never Land.  That being said, we love it. We thought that “wildlife” in this area was mostly confined to the Portland metro area and was low key and had a minimum of crime to deal with.  How little we really knew.

Last night we had an unusual snow fall. It snowed for no more than twenty minutes and then stopped completely.  There was just enough snow to cover everything in a pristine white sheet.  We went to bed after the snow fall stopped and remarked to each other about how white and smooth the back yard seemed with the new snow cover.  There wasn’t a mark of any kind on that snow.

We awoke this morning and walked to the window and were shocked at what we saw.  It appears that our backyard is the night club for most of the “wildlife” in this area.  These pictures will give you some idea of the night time traffic taking place in our back yard.

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We live our lives giving little or no thought to the “life” swirling around us every day and night.  I saw tracks of coyotes, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, one lonely turkey, a big fat skunk, and a trail left by that sneaky cat belonging to our neighbors.  I’m not surprised too often but this was amazing. I guess that one day warming trend we were blessed with brought everyone out to celebrate.

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I think I may have to pay a little more attention to what’s going on around me.    With a good lens and a small night light I might just be able to get some really interesting photographs.