"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Take that!

Mice - you all know that the ruddy field mice were my nemesis last summer. They're still around, but another rodent has invaded my veggie garden.  And, I fear, not even a cat will help thwart these pests.

As winter turned to spring we discovered mounds appearing in the back garden - moles!

At first I reasoned, ah, well, we have plenty of land - they're not harming anything important.

Until they migrated to my shadecloth veggie patch, that is. I went to harvest some carrots, and found this...
Sneaky moles - munching the base of the
carrots and leaving the topmost section
and the leaves there to fool this human...
 ... the shell of a carrot, obviously eaten just the night before, as the leaves were still perky and there was no sign from "up above" at ground level that anything was wrong.
A close-up of the mole inflicted
damage to the carrot
I know that moles are not keen on hearing footfalls on the ground above them. But I can't patrol the patch 24 / 7...

So, whipping out a couple of plastic milk bottles which I was going to recycle as plant cloches, I placed them on top of metal stakes and shoved them into the ground inside my veggie patch.  I figured with the (constant) wind moving and shaking the bottles on the stakes, the clonking noise, would, hopefully, encourage the moles to move on.
Plastic bottles on top of metal stakes - to
deter their habitation of my veggie patch
It seems to be working - the mounds are decreasing and the trail is now leading out of the shadecloth structure :)  Another eco-friendly solution which works :)

But - and this is a big but - have some recently uninvited, but very welcome, guests had anything to do with it too?

About 3 weeks ago RMan and I woke to find that we had inquisitive creatures inspecting the alpaca's in their paddocks - much to the alpaca's consternation. Having finally satisfied their curiosity, they proceeded to thoroughly search the ground in the back garden - where the lemon trees and veggie patch are located.

Yum, yum - they found plenty to eat it seems, because they have stayed!

What are they?

Ducks.  Three wadding, quacking white ducks :)
Three ducks - appeared from nowhere, and,
seemingly, not in a rush to return to their
By the third day when I figured that they were not in a rush to return from whence they came, so I provided them with the wherewithal to perform their daily ablutions...
A duck in a bucket of water is almost
as rewarding to watch as a small
child in a paddling pool
 ... a wash bucket LOL

They loved it.

But - there was something that they seemed to have difficulty finding and which is far better suited to their requirements.

Our dam.

We tried "herding" them there - they scattered in three different directions.

Then I had the bright idea of trying to bribe them.

They have developed - seemingly overnight - a preference for the alpaca's 12% protein feed - so severe is this preference that they are spending more time "waiting" for their next handout than they are foraging for nasty, unwanted garden pests... <sigh - RMan and I are compete suckers for hungry animals - which don't even belong to us LOL>

But, I digress.  Getting back to their undiscovered source of pleasure, ablution, and natural habitat.  A dose of the alpaca feed needs to show them what they are missing.
"Quack, quaaaaack, quack"
(translation: Here ducky, ducky - follow me)
With enough in the scoop to entice them, I proceeded to walk backwards towards the dam, rattling the food enticingly in the scoop as I did so.  They couldn't resist!

It worked a treat.  It took me exactly 2½ minutes to get them to walk the 65 - 70-odd metres to the dam. 
After the most recent rain, the dam is
overflowing again.  They obviously approved as
they took to the water like...
a duck to water LOL (sorry, couldn't resist the pun)
Once there, and small handful of the alpaca feed tossed right next to the waters edge - voila!, they discovered our dam :)
Oh, that's land again.  Hang on...
They had a good swim round, head-down and tail-up sessions, and then made for the far corner and walked out, before promptly turning round and heading straight back into the water.
Ah, that's better.
This is FUN!
After half- an-hour's frolic, they waddled their way back towards the house - they had probably just remembered what they had been bribed with, and of which they had not yet had an elegant sufficiency...
Waddle, waddle - after ½ hour they're finished,
and now they want the food that was "promised"
to them...


... we are about to take possession of the goslings we have ordered.  They should be arriving in the next week or so.

Our menagerie increases :)


Sue said...

So cute. I like your "guests"---but they sure sound demanding-LOL!

DFW said...

Love it that you are adding to your menagerie. Plus the guests didn't cost you a thing, well except for the feed of course.

JaneofVirginia said...

We also have alpacas ! Most of ours now are between 15-20 years old. We were originally told they don't live past 15, but we have found that they maintain good health often for 20 years in captivity.
The moles loving your carrots is simply a testimony to how delicious they are. They made my mouth water.
You are doing such a wonderful job with your farmstead.

Joyful said...

Oh my, you really are being invaded by all kinds of wildlife. I guess that is the cost of living way out in the country which it seems you are. I see you are being creative in dealing with the invaders. I love your idea to scare away the moles.

The scenery where you live is very beautiful.

1st Man said...

So awesome! I love the idea of the metal rods as noise/vibration makers. Genius! And the ducks are awesome. 2nd Family (that live at the other end of our property) had a duck stop by once and she never left! They have a kiddie wading pool for her and her own little area. She's happy as can be....

Dani said...

Sue - I caught them eating the last of our strawberries this morning... Steps will have to be taken to prevent that from happening.

Dani said...

DFW - And a few strawberries... (see above) ;)

Dani said...

Jane - Thank you LOL

We have been told that alpaca's live to 25? Are you still harvesting their wool, and, given how cold it gets where you are (I'm presuming theat encourages them to grow a thicker coat), how many lbs. do you get / alpaca?

Dani said...

Joyful - Any animal in need is welcome - providing it's not a baboon, "rooikat" or snake...!

Dani said...

1st Man - I think I'm going to have to give them "an area" too - for the sake of my strawberries, and who knows what else is going to take their fancy this summer... ;)

Harry Flashman said...

I'm glad you didn't kill the moles. I've always liked moles, maybe it goes back to The Wind in the Willows.

We had a peacock show up here once. Since I live in the middle of a very dense forest, with no one else anywhere near me, I have never figured out where it came from. I also had a little black banty hen arrive one day. She stayed, and now I have probably 9 black hens among my fifty or so chickens.

Dani said...

Harry - Moles are important in the ecological system, and none less than the Mole himself :) I, too, have fond memories of being read Wind in the Willows by my parents as a tiny tot.

Lucky you - perhaps the ducks will provide us with their offspring in the future too... :)