Grrr….

With so much going wrong in the gardens this crazy spring and summer, the sweet corn gave us no trouble at all.  I’d always believed that unless corn seed was treated with fungicide it would germinate poorly if planted in the spring.  But this year we decided to make the switch to untreated organic seed.  It was one of the few things we planted on time this year.  And even though it was an exceptionally rainy and cold spring (which creates a high risk that untreated seed will rot and not germinate), we had a germination rate of well over 90%.  Unlike last year, we lost none of our planting to crows.  Many of the young stalks were knocked down by a spring storm, but they righted themselves the next day.  The entire stand grew tall and proud.

As I saw crop after crop fail, I could look at the corn with relief, knowing we’d have plenty of it soon for our members and ourselves.

Then the wildlife attacked.

Last week, just days before the corn was ready for harvesting, we noticed that raccoons (presumably) had been tearing down stalks and eating the maturing ears.

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So we put up an electrified fence and I set a live trap in the field.

But the damage only got worse.  Every night more and more was being destroyed.  All I caught in the trap was a possum, who was innocent of this offense.

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We applied liquid fence and I set a steel foot trap.  Neither worked.  By yesterday half the corn had been destroyed.

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A friend suggested the culprit might be a groundhog, rather than a raccoon.  Knowing a groundhog lives in the area of the garden and never having had any success getting him to go into the trap, I staked out the area.  Eventually he appeared.  Rather than being patient to let him get closer, I took a shot that I thought was easy enough, with the usual result (I missed).  Yesterday I tried again.  This time I chose to wait until the groundhog came closer, so I’d have an easier shot.  He never did.

So far this season we’ve managed to harvest 2 ears out of over 1400 row feet of corn.

It’s just been one of those years.

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12 comments on “Grrr….

  1. DM says:

    makes me sick. I feel your pain. When we plant our beautiful little apple orchard (60 trees) they were looking lush and vibrant …new branches, standing straight and proud in rows..until….in 2 nights, the deer discovered them and ate/ stripped them down to stubs. didn’t realize deer loved apple leaves and branches so much. Remember scrambling to find an effective way to keep them out.$900 dollars later(which I didn’t have) later, there was deer fence. but still can feel the punch in my gut emotion when I think about it..(and seeing your field gives me that same feeling) dang.

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    • Bill says:

      Yep. I’ve been having that feeling every morning when I go out there. It’s like a sharp punch in the gut. Frustration just isn’t a strong enough word.

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  2. Tina schell says:

    I am so sorry because I don’t think you meant to be funny but I had to smile at your story. It reminded me of the old bugs bunny episodes as poor Elmer Fudd tried to catch the rabbit. We have moles and raccoons here and both are horrid pests, almost impossible to trap or get rid of. I try to remember they were here first but I don’t have to make a living out of what they destroy. Hope your luck improves–loved your little kid!

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    • Bill says:

      If this amuses you, then at least something positive has come out of it. We raise almost all of our food and we provide much of the food for over 20 other families. So there’s nothing funny about it to us.

      We’ll keep trying. Maybe they’ll save us a little.

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  3. shoreacres says:

    No, that’s not frustrating. Frustration would be a coon or two working the edges, just enough to be irritating. What you describe looks like a frontal assault. Gosh, I’m sorry. Not getting a crop is one thing, but getting it and then losing it is something else.

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    • Bill says:

      Exactly. If the seed had all rotted in the ground as I thought it might, that would be one thing. But to survive all that and to be just a week or so away from harvest, only to be destroyed this way, that’s another.

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  4. Bob Braxton says:

    may as well have been a herd of African elephants (which do invade shambas)

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  5. Bob Braxton says:

    “You’d be astonished at how many writers have crocodiles hanging from the ceiling of their studies
    There’s this wonderful verb in German that means “to hedgehog yourself in.” That’s kind of what I do to write.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/07/17/anthony-grafton-how-i-write.html

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  6. El Guapo says:

    Egad! Is this the first time you’ve had issues with wildlife?
    I’d think it’s something that would happen every year.

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    • Bill says:

      We have wildlife issues every year. They’re unavoidable. But we’ve never taken this kind of damage. This year has just been far worse than normal.

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