Friday, November 9, 2018

Scooter, Caught a Mole

We have trouble with moles digging in my flower bed, vegetable garden, and lawn. They look like rats with razor sharp claws which makes them excellent excavators. They desire grubs, insects, and worms, but not plants; however, their desire causes us nothing but destruction via digging.  The tunnels are usually about 10 inches deep but when they come close to the surface, it creates a mound.  If you accidentally step on one it's easy to fall and twist an ankle. If you hit it with a mower, then it creates a cloud of dust and might sling a rock or two depending on how many the creatures brought to the surface.

Mound made by moles.
My yard is full of rocks so they either dig below or go around.  The soft soil in the vegetable garden is their favorite area (along with Scooters...).

Soil pushed up around the edges of a rock by a mole.
These monsters have torn our yard to pieces, uprooted vegetables and killed many of my favorite flowers.  Over the years I have been desperate to find a solution.  There is so much worthless advice on the internet, I have decided to share what works and what doesn't.  

*Juicy Fruit chewing gum in the tunnel - it was supposed to cause choking but it only freshened their breath.
*Peanut butter - I don't know if it was to repel them or mire up their paws but it only attracted ants.
*Cayenne pepper - supposedly would burn their noses but in reality, didn't bother them.
*Dried blood - drove the rabbits away, but not moles.
*Both mole and rat poison repulsed them so they burrowed tunnel's around the pellets.  No matter where I poured it, they avoided it.
*Sprayed the ground with Dawn dishwashing liquid - it only cleaned my grass.
*Coffee grounds - didn't bother them but the caffeine made them dig faster.
*Moth balls - This was the worst.  I put them two inches apart in the tunnels and it made my garden stink!  The moles powered through the stench, but then my butterflies and moths disappeared.  
*Grow plants that repel them such as castor beans or garlic - castor beans are deadly to humans and I have children visiting my garden - it was too risky.  As for garlic, it only works on vampires.
*Dog and human urine - I won't even discuss this one.

I became desperate and tried more drastic measures.
*Put the garden hose down the tunnels to drown the moles with water.  (Thank goodness we have cheap well water.)  The tunnels caved in and the yard became a mud puddle. They are fast diggers and always got away.
*Carbon dioxide poisoning - backed the car up to the flower bed and put a tube from the exhaust pipe down into the tunnels.  They scurried away, found a fresh air hole then returned the next day.
*Noise and vibrations were also suggested as deterrents - I put a radio under a metal washtub and turned the volume up loud.  Classical, Country, Rap, and even talk shows were blasted into the ground but they partied until the battery ran down.
*Grub killer - It's a poison that kills the grubs in hopes the moles will starve and move on to greener, grubbier pastures.  It was going to cost about $300 to treat my 2-acre yard.  They would probably have just eaten earthworms or other insects so I didn't waste the money.

*We purchased traps that were designed to kill them but they were rarely successful.  It was hard to know which tunnel was going to be used next.  They move from area to area looking for fresh bugs.  Sometimes it is months before they burrow again through a particular tunnel. The traps would stay in the ground and would be sprung by rain or vibrations. We wouldn't know it. 
*Place metal barriers under the ground - I dug a trench around part of my flower bed and burried a chicken wire fence.  The moles dug deeper, went under the fence and then it began to rust.
*Sit quietly, watch the ground for movement then tiptoe over and start digging.  They can feel the vibrations of your steps so they stop digging when you approach.  It is possible to catch them if you have endless free time to sit and stare at dirt; however, the digging must match their lightning speed. Bill and the boys could dig fast enough to catch them as long as the moles didn't burrow under a rock or tree root. I never had enough speed.
*The most fun of all was shooting at the ground when the soil was moving.  Alas, our 22 caliber bullets never hit them because we couldn't see exactly where to aim.  We never tried a shotgun.

The only thing that has ever worked well at catching moles is SCOOTER!
He is fantastic. He loves to sniff, track, then suddenly pounce while digging as fast as possible. He bites them on the tail, jerks them out and then gives a good shake. Slinging rocks and mud makes it more exciting.

This is one he caught, covered in slobber and blood.  Looks harmless but it is destructive.

Whenever Scooter catches one, I quickly rush into the house, grab food from whomever happens to be eating, (hamburger, steak, fried chicken, doesn't matter) I pull it from their mouth and rush back to the yard.  He gets the privilege of devouring his special treat while gloating over his vanquished enemy.  After his victory dinner, he is treated to nonstop praise and hugs.  Later, when all the excitement is over, he gets dumped in the bathtub.

Then the victorious warrior basks in the sunlight and awaits the next invasion into his territory.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October's Garden (2018)

This month's garden looks so small! I remember when my garden extended all the way back into the corner and touched both fences. We even planted the area where the old shed is located. It was never a "new" shed because when it was given to us, it was already "old". Bill keeps telling me, "The garden only needs to feed two people, not a family of five with three teenage boys." Still, I feel panicked. The long winter is ahead and I don't think it will be enough. This is the same feeling I get right before company arrives: I never think I have enough food on the table. Perhaps this insecurity has been caused by feeding three boys for so many years; no matter how much I cooked, they were always hungry.

Regardless, it is too late now to plant more.  Winter is coming and the garden is changing.

The sweet potatoes on the right hate cold weather.  We have begun digging them but without any of our sons here to do the heavy lifting, we are taking it slow.  Both bean arches are down now and the bush bean plants are gone.  The fez of armadillos (a group of armadillos is called a "fez", isn't that interesting?  Well, it's the only thing interesting about an armadillo).  Anyway, back to what I was saying: they did a great deal of damage in this area.  We were invaded by a total of four - my mighty hunters were able to vanquish three and then the last one disappeared.  We hope it got hit by a car and won't return.

These are my heirloom tomatoes which grew with the yardlong beans on the tall arch.  This is how they looked on October 14th, two weeks ago.  As expected, they rallied after producing a bunch of tomatoes and looked strong when the first frost arrived.

On the exact same day, this is a picture of my store-bought hybrid, Big Beef tomatoes. They were pathetic.  After producing a huge crop of tomatoes, they all decided to drop dead. I don't know why. They will never be forgiven for this behavior and I will not buy them again. Stupid tomatoes.

This is the ex-tomato row today.  Since the leaves and vines are gone, it's obvious my tools are never put back in the shed.  Instead, I hang them on the fence as I leave the garden.  I suppose it could be considered lazy but I choose to call it being organized.  It works for me.

The carrots which were planted between the tomatoes in the area beside the armadillo battleground were never harvested. I think it is now safe to dig them. In the few empty spots, I have dropped some Oregon Sugar Pod Peas. In the other section of the fence where most of the carrots have been dug, Fava beans have been planted. They love cold weather and the peas love cool weather. Since the fence is still up, I decided to take advantage of the support.

This was the strawberry patch, which was overtaken by the Monster Melon vine and is almost bare. It will be a winter hoop house also. It is still being planted which is VERY late. This whole year has been late. I got started late in the spring and still haven't been able to catch up.

The parsnips growing at the far end of the row are about ready.  Their flavor improves tremendously after a frost so we will start harvesting soon.  They store well in the ground so some will be left for later.  All must be eaten before the dead of winter or it will be impossible to pull them out of the frozen soil. The watermelon vines didn't bother them since they were able to peek over the top of the leaves and still get sunlight.

One of the five strawberry plants left decided to produce a few strawberries.


It was a success putting herbs under the okra plants and I will do it again.  Some plants in this row are still alive even though we have had a few mild touches of frost.

Both the Calendula and Lemon Verbena have survived to this date.  The Calendula was not a surprise, but I wasn't expecting the Lemon Verbena to make it.  I had harvested the leaves way down and it grew back.  Any day now I will dig it up and bring it in to see if it will live through the winter.

Lemon Verbena
Planting lettuce in the hot summer in the shade under the okra plants was also a success.  Lettuce never survives the heat and this is my first victory.  They grew slowly during the hot weather then took off when it cooled down.  

Another experiment I am trying is planting Oregan Sugar Snap Peas under each okra stalk to see if the peas will grow up it for support.  

The last two rows next to the field fence will be winter hoop houses.  The hoops are up but the covers aren't on yet.  Some of the seedlings were transplanted this week and I don't know if they will be able to make it through the winter.  If November is warm, they will be fine, if not, they won't.  It is risky planting so late but it is the best I could do this year.



"I couldn't resist Mom...the dirt feels so cool on my tummy...feels soooooo good... I am Floating on a CloudZZZZZZZZZZ!

Additional Links

How Scooter views freshly tilled garden soil.
Scooter, Floating on a Cloud

Last Month's September's Garden (2018)

Monster Melon, August's Garden (2018)

Last Year's October Garden (2018)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

And On We Go...

Yesterday marked my second anniversary since beginning my blog.  Has it really only been two years?

As  I look back over the past two years, so much in my life has changed and so has this blog.  Scooter has become a worldwide megastar.  More people want to hear about him than anything else.  His loyal fan base is almost as large as his ego.  He is becoming a bit sassy and reminds me of his stardom often.  

Don't forget I am a star.
This past year has been hard due to various difficulties our family has endured. This blog has become my lifeline to the outside world as my health and mobility continue to decline.  It has been a place where I could share happy memories, and ignore unpleasant realities.  It forced me to look for blessings and sunshine even on the darkest days.  As I look ahead, the future seems uncertain but I think, maybe...maybe...the clouds are beginning to part.  More sunshine might be coming our way.

Regardless of what the future holds, I still don't have any great lofty plans for my blog.  I will continue to share the mundane with Mom (Hi Mom) and toss in pictures of Scooter.

Thank you to all of my new friends I have met through comments and messages.  You have encouraged me and are dear to my heart.  As for those all over the world who chose to silently read my nonsense without every commenting, you too are welcome.  If I can brighten one person's day just one time, it has been worth it.

Last Year's Anniversary

My First Post

Monday, October 22, 2018

A First at the Last

A package arrived in the mail a few weeks ago.  It was carefully taped and stuffed with miles of bubble wrap.

It began its journey on the American west coast and traveled over 2,500 miles safely to me in Tennessee.  

My good friend Becky shares a wealth of information about cooking, sewing, and thrifty living on her website Becky at Home There she showed how she canned fresh tuna bought from local fishermen on the docks.  When she learned I had never eaten freshly canned tuna fish, she sent me a care package.  It held two cans of tuna fish she had canned herself, a jar of her famous homemade plum sauce and pickled zucchini.  Becky had a bumper crop of zucchini's this past summer and was drowning in squash so she tried pickling it.  My family had never tasted any of these foods and we were ecstatic when we opened the box.

No one was allowed to open any of the jars early because they were to be eaten at a special taste-testing event.  We chose Dustin's last meal before he left for his new job in Iowa.  He needed something new for his last homecooked meal.

Becky sent instructions to barbecue chicken breasts then use the plum sauce as a dip.  I did that and also marinated two breasts in the plum sauce.  All were baked in the oven together in one dish.  Those that were barbecued won the taste-test contest hands down.  My carnivores could not get enough.

The squash pickles were a big surprise.  Never have I considered using zucchini or other squash to make pickles.  It just didn't sound right but when I took a bite, I was impressed. They were great. I will definitely be making these next year.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the tuna fish jar.  It did not taste like the fish I have always bought at the grocery stores here in Tennessee.  The flavor was astonishing.  Compared to Becky's tuna, storebought brands taste like cardboard.  If only I lived near an ocean.

What was the opinion of my guys?  They were all thrilled!

Not one bite was allowed to be wasted.  Scooter was asked to clean out the tiny bits of tuna left in the bottom of the jar.  It's always his job to wash the dishes.  Everyone has chores.  He licked it clean and begged for more.  

Since I had done all of the cooking, my guys kindly cleaned the kitchen while I propped my feet up in the living room.  Just as I was getting comfortable, I heard Scooter whining and complaining. Something was wrong.  When I returned to the kitchen, I discovered why he was distraught.  Dustin was LICKING the casserole bowl.  That was Scooter's responsibility!

"Mom!" said Scooter.  "Make Dustin behave."

"It's too good.  I must get every bite."
"There is nothing left for me!"
I apologized to Scooter for Dustin's bad manners and explained he is leaving tomorrow.  He will be gone a long time and must eat his own cooking.  Bless his heart.  When Scooter heard that, he immediately forgave Dustin then generously offered him his bowl of dog food saying, "It tastes better than your cooking."

Additional Links
Scooter, Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Scooter, Pictures, Pictures and More Pictures

Mom and Dustin are driving me crazy.  Every time he walks past, Dustin stops, rubs my fur then Mom starts snapping pictures.

Enough already!  I was snoozing and you woke me up.

Go away.

Then Mom started crying.  She said Dustin has been offered a big important job far, far away from home.  They are in contract negotiations and if he accepts, he will live close to Des Monies, Iowa for three long, cold years.  It is 700 miles northwest from us.  Reese, my other brother, is 450 miles east from home.  Joshua, my biggest brother is 1 1/2 hours away which isn't as far but seems so to Mom. Dustin, sometimes he is happy, sometimes he is sad.

Now I am sad.

Mom said we need to do something special before he leaves.  However, it will involve me riding in the CAR!!!


Everybody kept encouraging me by saying, "Don't throw up, don't throw up.  The top-secret destination is only two miles away. Be brave!" It was a long five-minute ride but I made it.

Mom could not take pictures with her camera inside the building because of their company policy.  The people were surprised to see me and tried to make me feel welcomed.  It didn't work.  I was not happy.  They set me up on a table with Dustin holding me tightly.  I braced for a rabies shot but instead, the man in the back of the room said "Smile".  I didn't move.  Then he said "Cheese" and I yawned.  Next, he began to bark and I laughed.  (I don't think he realized what he was saying in doggy language.)  Suddenly a bright light flashed in my eyes and everyone cheered.  He said, "Got it" and we left.

"You never know how good you look until you've had your picture took." 
Said my Granddaddy, whenever he picked up a camera.

I think I am quite handsome.