The slug invasion is sustained, slimy, and has devastated the newly-planted daisies. We’ve researched the deterrents and fortifications, again, and are weighing the costs. Second, a neighbor told us on Monday that he had just watched a weasel cross the road straight onto our property. We believe that weasels cross the road to eat chickens or to set up chicken operations near future chicken sites, so our former fencing plan isn’t enough. We’re switching to the smaller fencing holes in poultry wire. Finally, our 20-year-old truck’s security system drained the truck battery and left us stranded at home. This, too, has been addressed and the one-and-only farmlet vehicle is secure.
Slug security is an illusion. Still, we try. To lessen the carnage and to make ourselves feel useful we can bait, trap and/or block the slugs. We don’t use any poisons at all. Non-toxic slug bait options include beer and Sluggo (iron phosphate). Both are expensive, and Sluggo, which we use, disappears in the rain. Only a small elite of the slugs drown happily in the beer. Traps — overturned flowerpots with a stone placed under the rim to lift it up a bit, grapefruit halves and wide boards or plastic placed likewise — all attract slugs, but again, it’s a bucket in a waterfall.
Blocking strategies like seaweed and copper strips, and abrasives like diatomaceous earth, lava rock, and coffee grounds, also have unintended side effects and consequences because of the salt and caffeine. Plus they just don’t stop the dudes. We frequently see a slug crossing our gravel road, unimpeded. Why would he undertake such a trek? To make his escargot, of course.
We have heard that chickens eat slugs, and will cross the road to do so. So, to keep the chickens safe from the secretive, tricky, nocturnal, carnivorous weasel, we have ordered four 50-foot rolls of 1 inch chicken wire ($167) to reinforce the 2×4 inch squares of the goat fencing. The hens will have a huge cage to sleep and awaken in, ready for a day of slug grazing elsewhere in the pastures above or below.
Photo credit: http://bedsflorafauna.blogspot.com/2008/04/weasel.html
On other garden security fronts, the bunny fencing — chicken wire around the entire base of the yard fence — is holding this year. Or maybe we remembered to close the gates. Anyway, there have been no droppings sighted. Last year we bought a catch-and-release bunny trap when we spotted several rabbit poops near the onion starts, but it was never sprung. The bunny left, we double-checked all the fencing, and we called the trap a success.
Garfield is getting a mole a day now, and he soon will have a cat buddy — our younger daughter’s girl kitty named Ditto who will be summering with us — for backup.
Ruby the Golden Retriever goes reliably berserk over dog intruders, but almost always holds her tongue when people arrive. We’re working on this. We want a watchdog sounding out, and she did so magnificently until the day her brother, Jake, died. This week she barked briefly at a strange man (to her, anyway…) in our driveway, which brings me to the gravest threat to our grocery shopping security — the loss of our vehicle.
I turned the key in the ignition of our 1991 Toyota Four Runner last Thursday morning and there was no sound. Dashboard lights came on, but the engine made no effort whatsoever, as if it weren’t even there anymore, stolen in the night. I tried again. Same. I waited. I stroked the steering wheel, whispered, but the truck wasn’t buying it. An hour later, a carrier backed into our driveway — I love AAA — to tow the truck two miles to Virge, the local mechanic, for resuscitation. This is when Ruby barked. We’re still very happy about that.
Virge called in a couple of hours to confirm a screwed-up security system and a dead battery. The culprit was a long-forgotten fancy alarm the dealer had installed 20 years ago. To unhook the alarm looked like a job for specialists, Virge said, but he could supply a manual battery cable release — an inch round knob — so the cable itself is pulled off of the battery. A short-term solution. If we suspect we won’t be starting the car for a week, we’ll disconnect the battery.
This is a trick Virge usually reserved for old people. But with gas at $4/gallon, there might be more of us, old or not, who stay out of our cars for a few days in a row. Our truck gets only 16 mpg, which would be a sin as well as a bank-breaker if we drove very much. But we don’t, and the insurance is just $45/month. We sincerely hope to never buy another vehicle.
About 4:40pm Virge drove the fixed truck into the driveway (they deliver!), and the Bearded One met him and returned him to the townlet while I prepared a bucket of warm soapy water. Then, when he got back, the Bearded One hosed down the truck and I washed the permaculture from its eyes and wiped its nose. All is well. We have peace of mind. Really. The bears are only scratching things up at our neighbor’s house.