Thursday, July 3, 2014

HOLE-y Heck! We've Been Vandalized!

We were only gone a week.  Yet, somehow, they knew.  You see, I've been watching them since they came out in the hundreds this spring in the farmer's field behind us.  They are everywhere!  I wondered when the underground gang of garden vandals would strike our precious patch of vegetables.  Then we left on vacation for a week.

The potato patch was hardest hit.

Every time I see the prairie dogs on the hill behind our garden, I open the back door and shout angry threats their way.  They just ignore me.  My two pajama'd daughters lead one another in charging at those little schemers in hopes of terrifying them to death, or at least scaring them to the confines of their secret passages.  It temporarily fends them off.  Very temporarily.  They even heave large rocks into the tunnels to plug them up, which I appreciate, although I'm fully aware that it doesn't work.  
A "plugged up" Prairie Dog hole that didn't last very long.
It does, however, give peace of mind for 6 minutes until they bust a new tunnel right next to the old one.  

Poor potatoes.
Nearby friends and neighbors agree that there are more prairie dogs this year than in years past.  They are literally littering our streets as roadkill.  I'm told that as of last year their natural predators have been removed from this area (coyotes and mountain lions) by the city; and with the plentiful construction of a substantial subdivision going in up the street, it is no wonder the pest population has moved our way.  *Sigh*

I stuck a rake into the hole so you could see how deep the tunnel runs.  I'm unsure if this tunnel ended where my rake did or if it just turned.
There were smaller holes dug next to our pumpkin, butternut squash, tomatoes, and artichokes, but thankfully none of those did any harm to those plants.

What to do?

Why don't we just shoot them?  We tried.  It doesn't work.  Click here to read about our past attempt. We see the farmer in the field behind us furiously shooting prairie dogs on a weekly basis, yet it hasn't made much of a difference.  I do wonder why our meager garden patch looks so appealing when there are acres of tall green alfalfa just beyond the fence.  We are going to try to fence the garden with some 2nd hand fencing stuffs we were given.  I'm not really counting on that working, but it may be enough of a deterrent that our garden will be safe when we leave on vacations.  Plus, it's the bigger beasts (deer) that I'm more worried about.  They'll eat it all down in one night if given the chance (Yes, I speak from experience).  As soon as we get a cloudy enough day for me to brave the desert heat with my hubby, we will erect our fence.  Please pray for rain.


A Closer Look...

So, you want to see the culprits?  I thought you might.  That is why I asked my husband to go outside and shoot the prairie dogs, not with the typical weaponry, but with his new fancy camera.  It makes me cringe a little to look at them myself, but for you, my curious readers, and for education's sake, here they are.  

The demons from the underworld...

Prairie Dogs
Hey Coyotes!  Free all-you-can-eat buffet!

Basking in the farmer's field beyond the fence

Why don't those cactus plants deter them?

Does he think slithering like a snake will make him invisible?

That's right, HIDE!

Mending and Preparing

So, I mended the damage done by the prairie dogs.
I filled in the holes in the potato patch
And I decided to proactively prevent other likely pest invasions, specifically to my squash plants, by using mother earth's natural squash bug killer, diotomaceous earth.
 I've never used it before, but I'm hoping it works miracles.  I just sprinkled a spoonful around the base of each of the plants.
Pumpkin plant

Did I do it right?
Butternut squash hill

Did I use enough?
Cucumber hill
 The beetles haven't found my plants yet, but when they do, I'm ready to fight back!

So, have you had any bullies in your garden?

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