Sunday, May 10, 2009

A baby woodchuck

We've had our eyes on the brush pile in the way back of the yard this spring (home of a large woodchuck), but so far the garden has been spared from woodchuck foraging, probably because of the tender young grass shoots everywhere.

Returning home after a weekend away, my first inclination is to make the rounds to check on plants (does anything need watering, how are the transplants I shoved in the hay bales just before leaving doing, etc.). All looked good, and I was harvesting snow peas in the satellite garden, when I looked behind me.

On the bed closest to the shrub border, hunkered down among the eggplants was an small baby woodchuck being perfectly still. Surprised by its stillness and small size (it was about a third as large as an adult), it took me a moment or two to move towards it. Then, of course, it scuttled off towards Mom (I suppose) and their burrow in the brush pile. The youngster's tail was nothing like an adult's, being a spiky sparse brush-like thing.

Checking more closely, I realized that preferential woodchuck foraging over the weekend had resulted in the consumption of all of the carrot and kohlrabi tops in one satellite garden bed, and all of the cilantro in another. It's a good thing I have lots to spare, and the onions, garlic, potatoes, and tomatoes aren't particularly attractive. All of my young bean and squash plants are about 4 inches high now, and I do hope that fresh grasses and clovers are tastier!

Needless to say, the Havahart trap will be set again tomorrow morning, although I'm beginning to think some sort of garden fencing may be in my future plans.... or maybe I just keep sowing cilantro in succession all summer as a border -- clearly they love it!

6 comments:

  1. Great post. We have some animal coming around also. Dug up the dirt and messed up some of our new green bean plants. I hadn't thought of a trap... Hmmm. I wonder what we would catch. Sounds like you may need to catch the whole woodchuck family.

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  2. Certainly is the season for woodchucks. We saw one about six different times while at Massanutten and one time saw two scurrying across the parking lot to the water. They make me laugh, though if they were in my garden I would not be laughing.

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  3. Here's hoping the critters leave you something to eat!

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  4. So far we aren't crittered out here...I fibbed! The squirrels are horrid right now! Such aggressiveness and destruction even climbing on the screen doors! The plants go in the mail tomorrow...I am way behind...because of rain. g

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  5. I'm afraid there may be a woodchuck family, and I haven't had any luck so far with the Chuckster bait this year. (They have enough to eat because of the adequate rains this spring, so aren't desperate for fresh greens).

    They're enormously cute (check out this photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eva8/160977374/).

    But, I'm hoping that they're enjoying the fresh grass, clovers, etc., and only will venture for their epicurean nibbles this year.

    And Gail, squirrels have definitely been pesky here this year, and for a lot longer, it seems to me. I'll look forward to receiving Penstemon X!
    Lisa

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  6. I have two questions - is there anything to deter woodchucks? Secondly, when they nibble on your plants, do the plants come back or do you have to pull them up and start over?

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