Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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Winter gives us its reprieve with warmer temperatures, the scent of spring flowers in the air and the return of critters, uninvited critters at that.

I understand that all creatures want to come out after the long winter and soak up some rays too. What I don’t understand is why they have to be in my home, in my garden, in my vehicles and, literally, everywhere I am. If it were just one species that had chosen to get on my nerves, I could probably cope. However, I have been invaded from so many different angles, I am not sure where to begin getting them under control.

Let’s start with the big problem…the deer. Last year in spite of putting up motion lights, using deer deterrent and scaring them off, they ate as many vegetables from my garden as I did. I am not willing to share so much this year. I am going to have to resort to the last method on my list, putting up a fence…sort of.

I really didn’t want to put up a permanent fence, so I am going to start with the middle-of-the-road fence solution. Many folks have claimed that if you drive stakes and string multiple strands of 30-pound weight fishing line taut between the posts it will do the trick. The line is fine enough that they can’t see it, thus it surprises them when they run into it…for a while until they get wise to it. So, I am going one step further and tying aluminum pie tins at strategic points so that they will make noise when the wind blows them into the metal stakes.

I have been assured that this is the best thing out there. Last year the deer wondered through my yard over to the soybeans across the road and had supper and then stopped at my garden for dessert on the way back to their shelter. I am sure this year will be even worse and that they may make my place the main course since I am getting kale across the road. I have never heard that deer have a keen yearning for kale.

As for my yard, like most everyone else, I have pretty much resolved myself that the moles will outlast me and will cause havoc wherever they please. So be it. I have a bigger problem with the squirrels. I used to have a few brown ones that would gather the black walnuts and hazelnuts. I guess it was too easy for them because now they have invited their cousins, the black squirrels who only used to live in town. Of course, the ground squirrels, or piney jacks, have always thought this place belonged to them. So much for my tulip bulbs that I planted last year!

Now, I know that mice are just a part of country living, especially in my stick-built garage that has seen its better years. There are a few holes here and there where they always find their way in. Spraying “Critter Out” chases them back outside for a while until they make another stab at it. I know that off and on there have been a few of those lovely rodents visit my garage.

Up until now we have co-existed with a mutual understanding. I don’t use D-Con because I don’t like waiting for them to get to that distinct odor stage before I find them. We had a truce, I did not resort to D-Con and they stayed out of my important stuff. They broke the treaty. One ventured into my truck and proceeded to leave shreds of paper and other little presents inside. Even worse, he/she set up housekeeping in the glove compartment…game on!

I cleaned the whole truck out, top to bottom. Sprinkled peppermint inside and put glue strips on the floor, with a note reminding me that they are there. They not only catch mice but also people’s shoes.

Then, I turned my attention to the source of the problem and bought four cans of expandable foam. I know, it makes a huge mess and looks awful, but desperation calls for desperate measures. After moving everything out and blowing the entire garage out with the leaf blower, me and my cans of foam crawled under the workbench and filled every little hole we could find. I guess that, if there is a bright side to this, it is that when I put stuff back, the garage actually got cleaned. After 5 ½ hours of sweeping, plugging and blowing, I am ready to take on the feistiest rodent. I mean business this time because, as much as it goes against my grain, I will resort to D-Con.

I am literally up against a wall when deciding how to tackle my next critter problem. I have a cardinal who will set for hours on end on the mirror or bed of Ron’s truck when it is here or my truck and attack the mirror. It thinks it is attacking its rival. Of course, it leaves a trail down the side of the trucks. It is also getting braver and a little less choosey and will also attack any vehicle that happens to be in my driveway. How embarrassing is that when company comes!

But it doesn’t stop there. When there are no vehicles setting out, it will perch itself on my deck and stare into the house. When I do go outside, it will perch in the tree and scream at me if I go any direction except toward the garage. It wants a vehicle in the yard. Who owns the place here anyway! I am beginning to wonder.

A few years ago, I was given a basket filled with some pampering goodies. Well, there were goodies all right. Also, hitchhiking in the basket, powderpost beetles came along for the ride. I didn’t realize it until they had burrowed into the oak baseboards. What they do is chew the hardwood until it is pulverized. They had started to venture out into the hardwood floor before I discovered them.

Cedar oil is a natural alternative and works well to kill them. You just spray it into their tiny holes. This was last year and I have seen no recent signs of them…until the day I found the mouse in the truck. Is this a coordinated effort on the part of all critters to hit me all at once?

Yesterday morning three wild turkeys crossed my yard. I have no qualms with them, they were just passing through…I hope. As I am writing this, a movement caught my eye outside my office window. It is a pair of sand hill cranes out in the field. Perhaps they are the only critters in my neighborhood with respect. They keep their distance and I will keep mine; we can co-exist just fine this way.

Mind you, this is early in the season, I haven’t even gotten the garden underway yet. Who knows what other critters will decide to call it home?

I think perseverance is the key here. It is daunting to deal with so many critters that want to call this home. At times it is overwhelming but I will prevail. Until they start paying taxes on this little spot of earth that God entrusted to me, I rule…lest they forget it and then I will prepare for real battle!

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