songbird's roost

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by songbird, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    oh goody!

    Monday started with someone stopping over to pick strawberries, of course we helped, and she ended up taking about 25 quarts with her when she left. to make jam she said. lovely! that means i have a fairly large amount of them picked now. still many out there, including many that are now past expiration date and getting a bit questionable or fuzzy. which i hate leaving out there but i'm not going to be able to pick through all of them with all the other stuff going on.

    the person who picked with us was afraid of snakes and we had a garter snake right in the strawberry patch with us. a nice big one. they are very tame/calm snakes, at most they'll run away, i'm always happy to see them because they get some mice and perhaps a chipmunk once in a while. also we had deer visiting the night after i planted the last of the larger gardens. seems like they like to wander through when i've just planted, like they can smell the dirt being turned and the seeds being planted (scoping out future fresh sproutery?)... hmm, no real damage to anything that i could tell. not that i would know in that garden anyways as it is fairly random and overgrown in spots.

    in that same garden the turnips that flowered and went to seed have been dropping seeds all over as the goldfinches attack anything that looks like a seed pod. part of the plan is to let them randomly regenerate and so it becomes a mixed forage patch (onions, rutabagas, turnips, strawberries, peas, peapods, beans...) so we'll see how that continues to fare if enough will keep growing, setting seed and still have enough of a crop when mixed in with everything else. trying to establish a minimum space for a random garden patch that provides some kind of food throughout the season. too bad peas and beans generally do not self-propagate well enough to compete in such a patch too.

    the critters are continuing to forage in the patches and i'm still rather amazed by how many strawberries they don't find. this could be a good hint for those who are frustrated with trying to grow things in areas with a lot of other animals around that like to raid the gardens, if you plant enough in a mixed garden with some other ground covers you might still be able to have some kind of harvest, all without fencing/trapping or otherwise killing or harming the animals. of course, i may be off not knowing how intelligent the critters down there are in comparison to what we have here... ; ) ...

    after resting from picking for a bit we did a little weeding and then it started to rain, i was still done from earlier so that was just a short round for me (a half hour). not bad though to clear a large area of limestone mulch of weeds. when the weeds don't have seeds they get used as mulch or buried someplace, otherwise we have a weed pile that they'll end up on, which gets used by more critters for food. we've found a rather nice pile of dirt (from the root balls) under one of the weed piles, i could always use fill, but the idea of moving the dirt and then dealing with the seed bank of weeds in that dirt is a bit more than would probably be good for an easy garden later. taking it and using it as fill in a mowed area or burying it deeply under other gardens is probaby what will happen... eventually...

    critters getting bean sprouts in several places, i will try to replant some of them this week once i can see that they have not made it. i've done this previous years for some spots and the beans will still put on some kind of crop, but it will not be the same as if they were left alone. just the breaks when you have a wildlife highway system wired directly into your gardens and the gardens are sited further from the house than what they should be (a permie design would put them around the house and not further back where we have them... c'est la vie for now.

    then in the afternoon and evening we spent some time with a few friends that we don't get enough chance to talk to so it was really fun to see them, have dinner and just hang out. we've only been trying to do this for a year and a half... i'm trying to recruit them for coming and getting garden goodies here too, so eventually we may have yet another garden visitor to come pick things or to at least use some of the herbs which we rarely touch at all. if it does turn out that they do become regulars that would be great because both of them are very connected to a wider community of peoples and that would help get the word out. ever since our one neighbor left we've not had as much of a connection to the wider community here so it would be great to have that back again. here's for hopes and dreams. : )
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i have way too many beans here to grow all of them. cross-breeding is a riot and the bees have been very helpful with their services. : )

    when i was looking at the many different varieties i was curious about the winged beans, but didn't think they would grow here well enough to be worth it. why would they be hard for someone to eat?

    some beans need trellis space or climbing support and i don't really have a lot of that sort of space here so i don't do much with them. for me to add the scarlet runner beans was a concession as that cuts into other beans that would use that space, so i sure hope they produce well, i do love the color of the flowers, so we'll see if they attract enough pollinators to continue...

    last year i put in a temporary support on the old grape trellis to grow climbing beans, but this year i haven't even gotten to that and won't bother. what i need to do is to put some wire fencing on there to be a permanent support for climbing beans and then i'll be set. that is a this fall or early next spring project.
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    They have a strong flavour that isn't your usual bean (sort of asparagus-ish) and are hard to disguise on a plate when presented to a fussy child! I like them though.

    I haven't tried scarlet runners - I grow mine in my chook beds so they would get knocked down every 6 months which would defeat the purpose of a perennial. I use a 'tower' made out of fencing wire cut and wrapped to make a circle. Stick a stake in the ground, tie to stake, plant goes in the middle of it. A bunch of them in a row tied together makes an easy climbing structure that you can pull out again at the end of the season.
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    being scarce

    computer broken... will be back eventually... be good : ) : ) : )
     
  5. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    a start on one fix

    yay the computer is fixed (i'll need to get a replacement eventually... for now this works).

    we've had a large family of woodchucks (also known as groundhogs) raiding the gardens this year, even with the fencing. i didn't know they climbed... all the leafy greens are unlikely to produce anything this year. the onions, tomatoes and peppers are not being eaten, so we'll have something from them. the beans might recover (they're only eating the new growth on top when they can get to it).

    the other day i started plugging the highway which makes it too easy for them to get into the yard and then into the gardens. the end of a ditch which runs up into the yard (from the larger drainage ditch) is open enough that any critter that wanted to come up underneath and then raid into the gardens had a way too easy game of it. we have wooden pallets on top of the smaller ditch but there isn't anything blocking the animals from getting up through the pallets.

    so peeling up the pallets, finding their den (i didn't know they'd dug a den under there), plugging the den, putting down wire mesh so they won't dig there again, plugging the end with more mesh, rocks and chunks of urbanite to keep them from having a way in. it doesn't solve the whole problem (the whole ditch should be filled), but it will help. we missed out on having chunks of old chimney/fireplaces to use (damage from the tornado, we didn't even think to ask). that would have been nice fill to use under those pallets.

    while speaking of recycling i made Ma very happy by getting rid of many old computers/computer parts and started wading through the boxes of paperwork relating to them (so i can shred, recycle or throw it away). so at least one good thing has come from the computer freeze.
     
  6. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    oh goody!

    it actually worked out that we are able to reuse the chimney bricks from the place down the road. that's a few cubic meters of good fill and old bricks that we can use in various places. : ) Ma is out there now hauling car loads of them because this is her free day this week. beautiful day out there. i have to fix up the mess i made a few days ago and then will shift to hauling bricks too. rain forecast for most of the coming week, we've already had about 8cm the past few days. everything i want to do with the south ditch is too soggy, but it is flowing right as i wanted for now. so must leave it until i can get back to it.
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    mid-summer already?

    yes, i know some of you are in mid-winter, but up here it is coming along a lot faster than i could hope for. the weather has been cool the past few days and more for the next few, some rain, perhaps...

    camera is not working much at all now. i'm not sure when i'll be able to get another. computer fix is holding up.

    some garden veggies are coming along well, peppers, onions, some of the beans, turnips, rutabagas, ... the lettuces and some of the other greens and beans have been repeatedly trimmed back by the groundhogs. the tomatoes are not putting on as much fruit as previous years and we'll likely have full sized tomatoes before the cherry tomatoes. rather odd season for them. this cool and cloudy weather is not going to help them along.

    the softneck garlic i planted (that a friend sent from the south) was dug up the other day, it isn't as well suited as the regular hardneck variety that i've been growing for years. the size in comparison is about 1/3. i was hoping i had a few more weeks before the hardneck garlic could be lifted but it has started showing signs of being done so that will have to happen sometime in the next week. some of the green and wax beans are ready to be picked... hmm...

    otherwise, it is weeding and puttering around, mostly weeding, usually i don't get this far behind, but the hand injury still limits what i can do. it is healing up, the pain is mostly gone, but i still can't use it for extended periods of time and it's my primary weeding hand. i'm hoping the next few days i can finish getting caught up. the puttering around i'm currently into is emptying some pots i had used to sprout tulip seeds and to screen out the tiny bulbs so they can be replanted someplace. i don't know where yet. i have a ton of seeds from some other plants to also put in that will need a spot kept for them for a few years until they grow to full flowering size. the thing is, everything is full... hard to wedge more seedlings in. the tulip garden themselves would be the place to do it, yet i hope to have time next year to lift and replant those so to have seedlings in there would be in the way. hmm, have to think more about this, whever they go will also have to be screened to keep the chipmunks from digging, they go after any crocus plant i have. i've lost several hundred crocuses over the past few years to them and so finally have to either give up or take defensive measures. i love having the flowers in the early spring for the bees tho...

    oh, and some of the seeds i have are for the really early flowering iris called Lady Beatrix Stanley, a bright blue flower with some yellow in it, i was surprised to find the seed pods a few days ago and scouped up some of the seeds to replant in another location. they are doing well where they are at too so i moved some of the seeds around to get some more going in there. babies of them will be appreciated as i have several friends i'd like to give some to but as of yet my base population of them is still not that many. i originally planted 10 in three locations and two of the three locations did not grow well and eventually died off (they like more protection and moisture).

    guess that's the news for now. : )
     
  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    finally getting enough tomatoes to put up some chunks last night. otherwise all else is about the same, cool, rainy, cloudy, but with hopes for sunshine the next few days.

    i've been hand picking japanese beetles for the past few weeks off some wild grape vines. they've been congregating/mating/eating and from there off into the beans. so to reduce the population (as the vines are likely attracting them from the entire surrounding area) i go out and pick them off the bean plants and then remove what i can from the wild grape vines. i would much prefer an animal like a bird would come along and eat them, but short of that i won't spray -- to keep them from turning the bean plants into lace filled empty leaved plants, i'll pick away. the trend is improving lately, as i may only have 50-100 per day instead of several hundred, with all but a few coming from the wild grape vines. the beans are holding up and won't mind a little damage.

    and with the cooler weather and rains the ever bearing strawberries are flowering again.

    the rest of the gardens are mostly doing ok. i will be harvesting some fennel bulbs tomorrow to eat and use some of the garlic and also see if any of the turnips are still edible.

    hard to believe that summer is going so quickly that we'll have frosts here in about a month...

    most heavy projects are still on hold while the hand continues to heal. i tried to do some digging to turn one of the gardens to get it ready for the early fall pea cover crop, got some of it done, but not all of it. will have to wait a few more days before trying again and hope to do something different. we'll see how that goes...
     
  9. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    some seasons are more challenging than others

    and this has been one of them...

    went out a few days ago to pick the ripe tomatoes to start getting them put up and found out that what looked good from a distance was in fact mostly rotten.

    i picked two buckets, one of reasonably good tomatoes and another of ones that i hoped i could use after a bit of trimming off of the rot.

    then i put up the first bucket of decent tomatoes as i was sure they were ok and would not take extra time.

    the next day i started in on the rest and found out that this type of rot (buckeye rot is the closest i've come to figuring out what it is as of yet) affects the smell of the tomato even after i've cut away the obviously rotten part and even allow for some margin of error. once the tomato gets this rot the smell seems to go through most of the tomato fairly quickly. this is why i think the actual damage was done a while ago and only now showing up.

    the tomatoes i picked and processed on the 15th were good and everything looked good then. i was looking at about another 100lbs of tomatoes to process this week. instead, so far i've buried about 65lbs and only have about 10lbs of tomatoes to use. i will go out again tomorrow to finish picking off the rotten fruits and to see what else i can find that is useable.

    in the meantime other things are going along ok for the most part. still picking japanese beetles by hand off the wild grapes and tracking down any i can find in the various bean patches.

    not too much else going on, it's the season for getting done what i can when the days are not too hot and also getting shorter. i'm still limited to light tasks and by the feel of things i will probably be so until next year. which really messes up my list of things to do and hoped to have done by now... oh well...

    ok, what is going well? :) the onions look good. the peppers have been doing well too. fennel i ate a bunch of that last week along with some turnips. most of the beans are also looking to be doing ok. sunflowers are blooming along with many of the other flowers around here. apple tree seedlings are several feet tall. from what a few of the apple farmers are telling me this should be a good year for them.

    Ma is doing fine as is pretty much everyone else we know of at least those that are having more health challenges are remaining stable. i guess it is the no news is good news sort of thing. :) ... ... ... ...
     
  10. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    If we're coming up to Spring now, you must be heading towards Autumn/Fall, right? so high humidity?
    Sounds like your poor ol' toms have late blight, thats really disappointing. (oh, just googled buckeye rot....and its the same thing. I've never heard that name before.)

    Um, 100lbs of fruit? From how many plants?.....and er what sort are they?
    This year is going to be the grow enough tomatoes to make all my puree, ketchup and sundried. I always seem to run out after a couple of months, so it would be good to actually know how many I should grow. Of course, It would help if I stopped snacking on them in the garden too.

    I've got the hard neck garlic growing for the first time this year and so far they are looking very good. I kept the soft neck ones as companion plants around the fruit trees.
     
  11. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    FTR: buckeye rot is not late blight

    yes, we're in late summer now. we've had bouts of rain, high heat and plenty of humidity, but also punctuated by cold, cloudy and rather unusual weather for Jul/Aug here.

    late blight is not the same as buckeye rot according to the references i've been searching. here is one that explains it well enough:

    https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/450/450-704/450-704.html

    late blight we have had before and it is not as bad as buckeye rot because we still get edible fruits from plants affected by late blight.

    we do have poorly draining soil, but all places the tomatoes are planted in raised beds, one was mulched so there was no contact with the soil at all and it was the worst affected. 22 beefsteak plants total, plus 2 cherry tomato plants (they are also affected by buckeye rot a little, but we still have a lot of good small fruits on them).

    Ma decided to take the plants out completely today so all fruits have been taken off the plants and sorted. another 75lbs buried and probably about the same now ripening off the vines. not the best quality for sure, but still edible if they are not affected by the rot. can't tell yet...

    in a normal year it isn't unusual for us to get 20-30lbs of fruit per plant.

    some years we've harvested more than 600lbs of fruits from our tomatoes, but we didn't plant as many this year hoping to give them more space, light and air to see how they would do. plus we just didn't have that much room in the gardens because of previous plantings and rotations. it didn't really matter, the weather pretty much trumped everything else.

    like you i also can eat a lot of tomatoes. the perfect summer meal is a toasted tomato sandwich.

    the garlic did well here, i grow a hard neck variety which is pretty hot when eaten raw. i've tried a few other types, but none do as well consistently as this type does. it was given to me by an old friend who got it from her uncle. so it is well acclimated to our climate and area and doesn't seem to care about if it gets planted in clay or in the few sandier loamy spots i have. it just keeps on going... : )

    in other news i was out trimming off the tops of the onion plants that have gone to seed and then pulled the plants out thinking that they were not going to be much of anything besides the stalk. in a few cases the bulbs were pretty big so they are now going to be used. the stalk comes from the side and the bulb forms and is quite edible. other times i've had flower stalks and the plant was pretty much just the stalk and not a bulb at the bottom. so, we have some onions i didn't expect and a ton of seeds for me to use. i never really give up and keep trying things and once in a while something unexpected happens. : )
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    frost warning...

    i'm not ready for cold weather!

    good thing it is only meant psychologically... there are a few crops out in the gardens which may be slightly damaged by cold, but it is time for them to be done anyways and this is the signal they will use to tell them to shut down and finish up what needs to be done.

    the rest of the week is going to be cool at night and still a little cool during the days, some sunshine, which will be better than rain/clouds.

    the last of peppers? perhaps, we'll see how cold it does actually get tonight.

    onions may just keep on going, we pick what is needed and leave the rest. the beets may sweeten up from a frost. squash also, if there are any out in the field for me to find yet. a few fennel bulbs left, will leave them until i need them or leave at least one to flower for next year. still have seeds from these to plant. love it, much better than celery.

    the big stuff for me to do now is to finish up with the dry bean harvest which will be spread out over the next month or more (if we get no really cold nights they will go as long as they can. i hope so. would make up for the groundhogs eating their tops most of the summer). i've already picked some that have finished and dried enough. much better to get them off the plants before they start rotting from the various fungi. my soup pea harvest will be tiny (c.f. groundhog). i was thinking it was going to be a complete bust, but we had a few sunny days that helped keep the fungi from doing even more damage and i picked the pods off that i could get to so they are now ready to shell.

    the tomatoes we managed to get off the plants before they were affected by the buckeye rot a fair number have been ok, so we've actually put up about 30 quarts of tomatoes. not too many more left to process.

    now to get to the wider issues. with the rot of this year Ma is now convinced that we do not plant any of the gardens in the fenced area next year. uhg!!! i could use the areas for root crops without troubles and we had fine peppers, onions, garlic, fennel, but she's stuck on seeing just the one trouble and responding to only that. i hope by spring i can convince her that there will be some other things worth growing...

    over the next few months i'll have to figure out where the garlic should go and get that planted. get things harvested that are done and that's about it. a few flower gardens i'd like to change out, but it looks like i'm not doing much of that this year yet. falling sucks. falling on your hand sucks worse. i'd rather have broken my arm.

    ok, so onwards, seeds from some flowers i will plant, not sure where yet, these will take a few years to grow into flowering bulbs. also some young bulbs from seeds i've grown i'd like to put in where i can keep an eye on them. my first actual tulips grown from seeds that i cross-pollinated by hand and i'm wondering what they will be.

    indoors, the worms are still chugging along. doing well from what i can see when i feed them. today will be a good day to chop some lettuce and give them some fresh greens. usually, i dry the greens so i can store them until i have time to put them in the bins, but with the rainy/cloudy weather the past few days i've caught up on all of my inside chores (i've even cleaned this room a bit) and even had time for hacking a little... so really, life is good, even if i whine a bit about stuff. on the whole. we're ok, we have a roof that doesn't leak.

    which reminds me to inspect it closely the next few weeks and make sure to get the roofers back to fix any flaws before the warantee expires... a few nails have been pushed back up from moisture/previous leaks that we think we've finally got taken care of. so just those last few bits to make sure are sealed up against the fall/winter/spring. also, the fall task of caulking cracks and getting ready for cooler weather.

    then i can ponder indoors/winter projects like re-painting some of the ceilings and walls...
     
  13. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it took quite a while

    for the hard frosts to actually arrive. which was good because it left enough time for me to get the onions and peppers picked, to get a lot of caulking/sealing up of the house perimeter and to have several weeks of pretty nice weather. the past few days have been sunny and slightly cool, but tolerable. the nights have been below freezing at times. this has put an end to the pepper plants (which were blooming again) and the beans too (some of those were blooming again).

    the dry bean harvest continues. going ok. many new varieties/crosses. some out there still to pick when i can get back to it. total amount is about half of normal due to reduced plantings. i'm still not able to dig much and am trying to keep further reinjuries from happening. very yucko about this because it means i'm not doing much of my favorite things this year. i think i planted all of one garden the past three months... Ma said she saw sprouts, but i'm not sure yet if they are what i hope they might be or if they are some other plants poking up new seedlings. will have to look at that tomorrow.

    side projects are on the top of the list for the next few days. replacing the worn out weather seal on two doors.

    from the garden i used a half dozen fennel bulbs and some onions along with the juice from a quart of a previous year's salsa, dried beans, and some sausage from a meat market i'd wanted to try out. it's not a bad soup at all, but the sausage is not as good as i'd hoped. it's very hard to find a good italian sweet sausage. i'm pining for the good old days up north. somehow i'll have to see if i can track down that recipe... i don't eat a lot of meat or even cook all that often, but when i do i want it to be the good stuff.

    now i have a much nicer connection to the internet, i can actually look at sites with pictures! hope it keeps working out, still have many things to figure and change around. good stuff for rainy days or when the cold weather hits.

    the full double rainbows two days in a row early in the week were wonderful, i may have gotten a picture.
     
  14. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    why i hate fixit projects

    one always leads to a dozen more...

    the front door weather strip replacement project, the box graphic on the front had arrows pointing to all three sides of the door, so i never thought to look at the actual measurements for how long the piece of weather strip was. oops. *sigh* i don't do enough of this sort of thing to have all those automatic checks in place. like measuring and counting... the extra projects... waiting for nicer weather again so i can chisel out some rot and replace it with good wood and caulk to seal things up again. one side done, two to go, ripped all of the old out, then found out i didn't have enough, put the two old sides back in, doesn't look too bad, but we'll see how it goes. we may be stuck at this point until spring or summer if the weather gets too cold for things to cure properly.

    the refrigerator upgrade, long needed, we hoped to have done soon, looks like not, the model that Ma would like is not yet on the container ship coming from Korea. at least it is energy efficient. coming from Korea... *sigh #2* tell me this world makes sense...

    project other, replacing weather strip on door bottom for a different door. went ok, but putting that door back on was a challenge with just the two of us.

    project use up the last of the cruddy brown caulk was also finished. all but two large gaps are taken care of, the remaining gaps are filled and will continue to crumble from exposure to the elements until next year. no air comes through them, it's just a cosmetic issue (and i kinda like the fried burnt orange color from the old foam rotting/fragmenting anyways, but it won't last long that ways, needs to be covered or something, someday, next year...)

    the number of bee/hornet/wasp nests in the walls was probably several dozen, sadly many of them were sealed in, but with the size of some of those gaps it was either seal them up or invite the mice in the walls again. as i'd already spent many years keeping the mice out of the walls it wasn't something i could leave. oh, and the carpenter ants were starting to take too much interest in these walls and the interior. with the work i did along the foundation around this room to seal things up i haven't seen any more of them this past month. hope we've caught them before damage done...

    a last small fixit project to take care of one more mouse entry to the garage and i should be done. plastic is not a good enough defense against the tooth of mices...
     
  15. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Nothing in this world makes sense...
     
  16. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    I'm having trouble trying to catch a field mouse that my cat brought home. Its too light to set the traps off and eats everything I use as bait. Any ideas?
     
  17. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    In my chooks pen sometimes I'll leave a plastic bin with some seed in the bottom and a little ramp so they can get into it. They happily jump in but can't get out:)
     
  18. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i really hate to kill things, but when it comes to mice... *sigh* without doubt i will set traps to get them out of the house as fast as possible.

    the answer has always been snap traps with peanut butter, but instead of putting all of the peanut butter on top of the trip pan, you also put some on the underside so that they have to work for it. eventually they will push hard enough and set the trap off.

    i had a mouse in my car (of all places) that took me four months to get it was so sneaky, but eventually one of five traps with peanut butter finally worked. it had cleaned off the peanut butter of the four other traps and then decided to give it another go... poor buggers...

    i refuse to use poison on mice now because i hate thinking that a mouse will eat the poison and then spread it out to other non-target animals like snakes or owls. i figure if i'm going to trap them i should do it quickly and with the most direct and poison free approach. luckily, i have not had to trap any for a while now as i've been sealing up gaps to keep them out.
     
  19. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Are there little box style traps where the mouse goes inside and trips the door?
     
  20. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i have seen many different types advertized... dunno what is available for mischief to try.

    luckily i have not had to set any traps for quite some time now, once i get this last gap taken care of i hope that i won't have to set any more in the garage. when the winter snows get going i can see by tracks in the snow how much mouse activity is going on around the house and the rest of the property.

    getting rid of the bait stations was something i'd wanted to do for years, but didn't think that Ma would ever stop using them, but i kept resisting refilling them and kept talking about how horrible it was to poison mice that way. last year we took them out of the gardens and we didn't put them back out this year. i think they are gone now with the plastic recycling. i'm trying to wean us off trapping the mice too by using intelligence and filling in gaps and watching what is going on. making sure that there is good habitat for snakes and not minding the feral cats that wander through.

    a few weeks ago i was doing some patch work on the cement drive and along the front wall and a cat wandered by and said hello. it is not usual for them to vocalize, so i figured it must have been one of the out back neighbor's cats. but it didn't come up to me and say hello either.
     

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