critters not fritters

i needed a catchy title... :)
it makes a lot of difference when the live trap is actually working correctly. and having the bait that the critters can't resist.
the past few days we've relocated three groundhogs and two raccoons. it's been raining this morning so we've not reset the trap from the earlier transport run.
the live trap was previously not working because the spring that pushes the door closed had slipped downwards and i'd not noticed it. once i snugged it back up where it was supposed to be the door started properly latching again.
we've found out that both raccoons and groundhogs are perfectly happy eating sunflower seeds. the raccoons will shred any bit of plastic left in the cage when they are captured while the groundhogs are very polite about it and will just flip them around. on a hot day i was surprised that the groundhog would lick the peanut butter off of celery but would not eat the celery itself (does that say anything important about celery? :) i like celery myself so it's funny to me that it would not at least chew on the celery for a bit of moisture). since then we've switched to all sunflower seeds and the trap has been being sprung once or twice a day. all cases it has now been catching something, before they could push the door back up and get out.
the other critters we've been trapping has greatly slowed down this week (no chipmunks or mice for the past few days). our tally on those has been over 32 chipmunks and more than 18 mice. the bucket method has been much more effective and selective than compared to the rat traps i was using before. with the rat traps there was always chances of getting a snake, bird, toad, frog, etc. this time we've only gotten one bird and one toad by accident (the toad could swim and so was released back into the garden). and one groundhog (which was a lucky catch, but the live trap has been much faster and less trouble in that we can release them instead of me having to bury the poor guys.
i'm hoping we're down to just a few remaining groundhogs to trap as i think we have either one or two left. so far none have done much chewing on the gardens (being content to get the sunflower seeds instead i suppose). it has also helped that i make regular rounds at the times when they are usually active so i've been able to chase them away from the gardens. i almost busted a gut laughing one time when the groundhog was trying to squeeze through the fence after i'd found it inside. luckily it had not yet figured out that there were tender bean sprouts just a few feet away. this is much different than last year where by this time most of the beans had been trimmed back once or more times.
in other garden news the back green manure patch is ready to be cut back again (regular rains have been nice) which will really perk up the worms again. all the rest of the gardens have been weeded fairly often enough that there are only a few trouble spots left to get after. this week will likely be a perfect time to do that.
a few strawberries still to be found, but not enough to collect and make shortcakes. a nice snack for when i'm out and around. the far back strawberry patch will need to be redone this year as it has been overgrown by aggressive grass and plenty of other weeds too. all of that will make good organic material for the same area once i get a good root barrier in place to keep the grass and horsetail from migrating into the area. another aggressive weed we've been taking out as we've redone other gardens and it's been taking over that back strawberry patch too. the bees do love it and i hate to get rid of all of it, but there's plenty else here for the bees.
oh, speaking of bees, the field next to us now has six beehives. with all the birdsfoot trefoil, poppies, lavender and other flowers blooming there are tons of honey bees all over the place.
pretty much everything else is doing ok, the garlic is getting closer to being ready to harvest. the onions i put in from seed look pretty good. the larger onion sets i planted are already starting to bulb out (last year they didn't start doing that until much later). the red peppers are going great. the green peppers planted right next to them are not doing as well, but they are still green and growing so i've not given up on them. the tomatoes are starting to bloom (the cherry tomatoes already have small fruits). all the beans are up and growing. only a few spots to replant when i get back outside tomorrow to take stock.
so as they say, can't complain about this year so far, it's coming along pretty well... :)
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