Thursday, June 25, 2009

Raccoons, Snakes, and Adventures in the Garden

Every year I (mostly successfully) grow some tomatoes and a few other things in our garden. The garden consists of some raised beds at the edge of our yard along the road. Our yard is mostly trees, so only the edges near the road get enough sun.

One bed is a permanent bee, hummingbird, butterfly garden. This year I also have two beds of tomatoes with a few hot banana pepper plants, and a bed of zucchini. I used to plant snow peas but the grasshoppers cured me of that. One year they ate the pea plants down to nothing in about two hours. There were so many grasshoppers on each plant that they flattened them down to the ground while they munched away.

tomato cluster

I took these photos a while back so everything is lots bigger now.

hot banana peppers

You can't even see the zucchini bed now.


Last night some raccoons raided the tomato beds and generally made a mess while ruining several large tomatoes. These are likely the culprits. Mom raccoon brought them up in the middle of the day to munch on the cat food.

litter of three

Scrappy isn't nearly as afraid of them as he should be.

checking out the cat

I got some repellent spray and treated the wood on the beds with it. Hopefully that will work.

Stefan and I found this fellow in the yard and relocated him to the woods before Scrappy found him. He's a ringneck snake and was about ten inches long. He's in a yellow trash can which was the handiest thing to capture him in.

ringneck snake

Our turtle is back. I can tell he's the same one that's been around in previous years because of the scar on his shell. Here's he's escaping with some cat food in his mouth.

turtle stealing cat food

Here's Scrappy and the turtle in 2006. Note the turtle had cat food in his mouth that time, too.

Hey!  That's my cat food!

I've also had two very large snakes in the gold fish pond. I knew something was up because the fish weren't their usual happy, come-feed-me, selves. And then some of them disappeared.

The first snake was a 4.5 foot cottonmouth water moccasin. Unlike many water moccasins he wasn't territorial and wasn't aggressive toward me. He cleverly hid in a fold in the pond liner. My plan was to chase him around the pond so he would leave on his own. Mr. Snake foiled this plan by swimming into my net when I poked at him. I wasn't really expecting to catch him and wasn't prepared. The snake couldn't figure out how to get out of the net. I couldn't figure out how to get hold of anything to kill him with without him escaping.

I yelled for Stefan to bring a hoe. Obviously Stefan's practical education has been lacking because he couldn't figure out which tool was a hoe. Finally he brought me a four tined hard rake. I supposed if you could manage to hit a snake with one of the tines you could kill it, but hitting it would be a problem.

I carried the snake up the road to the big pond and let him go. Probably there are three dozen more just like him there. A few days later another big one got in the pond. Hubby was home this time and he shot it. I couldn't tell if it was a water moccasin or one of the look-alikes, but it was a shorter snake.

Click on any of the photos to go to my flickr page to see the photos in more detail.

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