Critter Report

I’ve seen an adolescent coyote several times in recent weeks. Always early in the morning, 5:30 to 7:00 AM. He moves across the fields at a trot, sniffing the air, pausing occasionally to listen and look around. Hunting for breakfast I imagine. Sunday morning he had a dead crow in his mouth. I’m glad he doesn’t eat vegetables.

A few months ago, early in the morning, two adult coyotes trotted down the road at the south end of my field. Beautiful animals with gray coats. They sniffed the air as they went up the little hill into the Sergi’s land. Once on top of the hill, they turned, looked in my direction and sniffed the air again. Then they turned away, went over the hill and were gone.

I think a wild turkey has made his home on the farm. I see her just about every day.She often roosts on a fence in the woods off the south edge of the farm. I once saw her perched on the tail gate of a red truck parked on Glenn Road!

Woodchucks and rabbits are everywhere …. hopping down the rows of tomatoes, nibbling on the lettuce, sniffing the watermelon. The onions appear to be safe from their attention. The ‘chuck I saw today is fat and healthy looking. Clearly he’s been eating his (my!) vegetables. I’m going to have a talk with the coyote because I think ‘chucks (the entire family of them living under the garage!) would make a much better meal than a crow.

“Liz, get the¬†gun!”

That’s what I wanted to yell to farm intern, Liz Green, today when I saw the woodchuck at the far end of the field feasting on newly planted lettuce. We don’t have a gun, and it’d probably be illegal to fire one in Belmont. Instead, I asked her to grab the “woodchuck supplies”. Shovel and bombs in hand, we slowly approached the demon, er, woodchuck. A hungry male adolescent ‘chuck with an attitude like he owned the place. He spotted us, so we started running toward him. Not because we thought we could catch him. Goodness, no. Not after a day spent doing hard farm labor! We wanted to see where he was headed. For the past week, his home has been impossible to find. We walk the perimeter of the farm several times a day searching for his lair to no avail.

Well, today we found FIVE open, active holes. FIVE. There were none this morning when we looked. Liz and I wondered if someone’s been trapping woodchucks and bringing them to the farm. Probably not, since this would be illegal, as well as just plain mean (mean to me, my customers AND the woodchuck). Or maybe May 9 is Woodchuck Pilgrimage Day — they all come the farm to have a big party.

Anyway, when I left at 6:30 this evening there were no active woodchuck holes. To date, around $1,200 in lettuce and peas has been lost to woodchucks. Not a catastrophe, since I always plant more than is needed, but very annoying. I’ll keep you posted.

Gotcha!

I know it’s not at all befitting for a farmer to be squeamish, but I am. At least when it comes to dead rodents. My dear husband joined me for “rodent patrol” in the hoop house Sunday morning. His job was to empty any full mouse traps we found. We just found one. I’m pretty sure it was the same mouse I saw yesterday — beady-eyes and all.

I hope that mouse didn’t tell his friends and family where he was getting all those delicious seeds. I reset the trap, just in case.

Thief!

A four-legged, beady-eyed, hungry, seed thief greeted me this afternoon as I was checking the newly potted-up tomatoes. It was a field mouse on top of a bench in the hoop house, a bench four foot off the ground! He scampered away when I yelled at him. I swear, he would have kept eating the newly seeded pepper and tomato seeds if I hadn’t cursed loudly.

I looked around for more damage. Seems this little guy (or members of his family) like seeds. A quarter of the spinach that was seeded this week had been dug up and eaten.

I’ve booby-trapped the place. Mouse traps with tiny dabs of peanut butter are everywhere: on the benches and floor of the hoop house and around the outside of the house near little mouse-sized holes.

Last year the early-season rodent battle was with voles. They’d climb up on the benches and tear seedlings off at the soil line. Apparently they use the little green seedlings for nests. Mouse traps worked pretty well on them. I hope they work on field mice.