Milo Yield: Pest control turns into raccoon riot
July 29, 2016
Protecting a sweet corn patch from marauding deer and raccoons is a constant problem for both hobby gardeners and commercial sweet corn growers. Squirrels and field mice are almost impossible to control in a corn patch in my experience.
Over the years, growers have come up with novel new ways to keep their sweet corn for their own use and out of the mouths of mooching wildlife. Electric fences will work for raccoons if you put enough money and energy into the project. Human hair from a barbershop is often tried to keep deer out of the corn patch. I've heard of people using laundry-protectant moth balls to stink the intruders out.
As for my own personal experience, when we lived in Iowa, our sweet corn garden was just across the driveway from a deep ravine that wuz raccoon and deer headquarters. Nothing I tried worked until I started borrowing my buddy Nick deHyde's intrepid bloodhound Buford. I'd tie Buford to a heavy piece of steel right in the middle of our driveway next to the garden in the evenings. As long as Buford wuz on guard, we never lost an ear of sweetcorn.
Now, all the above discussion is just a lead-in to a true story about sweet corn predation as experienced by my good friend and neighbor, ol' Kent deTurem. He told me a week ago, his sweet corn wuz getting ready to pick, but the critters were going to be a problem becuz his sweet corn patch is within a stone's throw of the Cottonwood River. But, he thought there might be enuf corn still available to share with his family and friends.
Alas, I spied Kent at the restaurant the other day and he lamented that between the critters and the weeds his corn patch wuz a disaster. And then he shared this novel story of how he tried to save his corn patch.
Kent owns an open-cab Jeep that he scats around in the summer going from field to field, fetching parts, going to eat in town, etc. Well, he said he got an idea a few days ago on how to protect his corn patch.
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That evening he parked his Jeep right beside the patch. He turned the radio on to a talk-radio station and put the volume up full-blast. Then he hooked up a pair of portable trailer flashing blinker lights and put one blinking light on the ground on either side of the Jeep. Then he left the set up overnight — confident that it would deter 'em (the critters) from the patch.
Well that DIDN'T happen. Apparently the raccoons appropriated his noise and light deterrent and used for a Cottonwood River Disco Party instead. The next morning when Kent went to his sweet corn patch, here's what he found:
Raccoon tracks all over the Jeep from bumper to bumper and the seats and dashboard. There were corn-soaked coon tracks showing were the masked-imps had used the windshield for a slippery-slide. The battery on the Jeep wuz run down. And, the most obvious sign of the disdain the raccoons had for his deterrent wuz a big pile of raccoon crap right beside the blinker light he'd set right beside the driver-side door.
In telling me that story, all Kent could do was sigh ruefully and laugh, "I thought I'd outsmarted them, but all I did was outsmart myself."
A bunch of the wild birds around Damphewmore Acres have hatched out their first batch of babies. The Jenny wrens vamoosed with their four hatchlings from their house under our deck. The Purple Martins have a scad of new birds swarming around their houses. The Barn Swallows have hatched two nests of babies — one under the deck and one under the roof soffit. A cock quail eats in the yard every morning by himself. I'd bet he's just waiting for his mate to get her brood hatched. The Killdeers hatched two batches and then apparently left for good. I don't even see them around the pond.
I'm getting too old for efficient predator control. I missed a perfectly easy shot at the coyote who's been thieving my chickens. Ol' Nevah spotted him approaching the chickens one evening and I slipped out the back door and had a 100-yard broadside shot at the critter. But, alas, I yanked the trigger rather than squeeze it, so all I accomplished wuz to buzz him loudly and scare the bejeebers out of him. I will say that wuz four days ago and I haven't seen that coyote since.
The tomatoes are coming on good now. I'm in nirvana. Like the country song sez: "Nuthin' like a home grown tomater."
My Colorado friend Jay Esse wrote to say our mutual friend, Tex Junkman, is slowly mending from his mishap with his horses. After being in the hospital for three weeks, Tex suggested to Jay that he's gonna trade in his rowdy hosses for some friendly nanny goats.
Jay also said he's convinced that his own house is haunted because every time he passes the full-length mirror he sees a weird looking old man staring at him. He also says that when married couples argue, one is always right and the other is always the husband.
My buddy Canby Handy struck up an email friendship with ol' Ontha Beam — a faithful reader from Holdrege, Neb. — and went out to visit Ontha last week. While there, Canby visited the extensive Nebraska Prairie Museum and Interpretive Center. I guess they had a great time and now their email friendship is an actual one.
I'm getting windy this week, so I'll quit with these words of wisdom about museums from Robert Smithson. He said, "History is representational, while time is abstract; both of these artifices may be found in museums, where they span everybody's own vacancy." Hmm-m. Guess I need to go to more museums because the vacancies in my mind are growing. Have a good 'un. ❖