Sunday, August 16, 2009

Update on Raccoons

So, tonight when I got home from my escapades and let the dogs out, the infamous "Teacha" called out across to me. He had to tell me his version of his wife's story about the raccoons in my yard.

Quick backstory: He just moved into the house across the street a few months ago. He loves to drink his 40s, then give prophecies and lots of advice, especially if it somehow entails him making money off of my efforts. The beer makes him relatively incoherent, and you have to take the bits and pieces you heard repeated 18 times, then sift them to figure out what he's really talking about.

According to him, there were about 30-50 raccoons in the yard that night. (Quite an impressive range, no? Remember, his wife said only about 20.)

And, I guess anywhere from 8-10 or 15 (depending on which point in the conversation you're at) went around the corner on the one street. And the same number went around the corner on the other street. And the same number when directly through my yard to the adjoining yard. And I got ROBBED, or shafted, or....[insert any other similar adjective], because those stupid creatures stole all of my food.

I kept trying to ask him what Animal Control said, and wasn't really getting anywhere. It pretty much sounds like, the reason the raccoons have set up shop behind his garage is due to the water in the basement that his landlord seems to refuse to do anything about. And Animal Control won't do anything because "someone is feeding them."

Yeah, I purposely planted all of that food in my yard because I wanted to feed the wild animals in the city. I wasn't really trying to have some fresh, healthy, organic produce and to save myself a significant chunk of money during my unpaid summer in this crappy economy.

So, Teacha recommends that I start complaining to the city. Of course, he has grandiose dreams of me filing suit against the city (it started with me losing $1000 -- which is an overstatement, though perhaps not by too much -- and ended with $30,000). And of course he'll have my back, so that he can share in my earnings. And he thinks I'll end up on CNN.

(More backstory: He constantly has some scheme in mind where I do all the work and earn all the money, but because it's his idea and he can supposedly help me with the paperwork, he should be a 50-50 partner in reaping the financial rewards.)

So, basically, I guess it needs to start with me calling Animal Control myself, and starting from there. Do I really feel like spending all this time with it? Not really. But it is a serious problem, and it's affecting the entire neighborhood, so.........

I'll keep y'all posted.....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stupid Raccoons

The other afternoon, as I was preparing to head for a day at the lake, my neighbor across the street from my driveway hollered over to me.

"Hey! I tried bangin' on your door last night 'cuz you had TWENTY raccoons in your yard!"


She went on to tell me that she had come home from church, and as she was getting out of the car, her husband yelled at her to get back in. She asked him why, and he told her there were raccoons. She thought he'd had too much to drink (as is his custom in the evenings, while he sits on the porch watching everyone) and started to get out again. But the neighbor in the house next to them also hollered over for her to stay put. And sure enough, there were two sitting in front of the car.

Her friend started flipping the headlights, but the raccoons didn't move.

Now, this is the part where a couple of details start to get a little fuzzy, because I frequently have difficulty following her train of thought, and as a result sometimes end up with misinformation.

Supposedly, as the evening wore on, the various neighbors all around me noticed numerous raccoons in the yard. Was it really 20? I honestly have no idea, because 20 to her could be five or thirty.

Eventually, she called Animal Control, who came out because she was the fourth phone call of the night. The way she describes it, he just kinda sat there scratching his head as numerous raccoons were running around stealing my corn and other food, hiding behind my neighbor's bushes, and into the garage on the other side of mine. And then he said something along the lines of they wouldn't do anything unless we wanted to pay to rent cages and then they would come and pick them up.

I'm a little miffed about that whole bit.

Apparently, there is a whole family of raccoons that is living behind the garage of the house across the street, because her landlord has been dumping wood back there, thus creating a haven. Having a ready-made food source across the street (i.e. my garden) hasn't been helping matters. And, apparently, I am not the only one who has been suffering losses.

I've been wary coming home at night, now, because I don't want to run into any raccoons. And if I let the dogs out at night, I am now sitting right out there with them, because I don't want them to tangle with a raccoon, either.

This morning, I got up to let the boys out, and the neighbor started hollering at me again. This time she was mad because they had been dragging the corn stalks around and left a couple of pieces in her yard. She started telling me that I needed to put up a fence.

Ok, 1 -- I don't have the money, the time, nor the ability to do such a thing.

2 -- At this late point in the season, I almost don't care anymore.

3 -- They know how to climb -- they climb trees -- and I don't think the kind of fence that I can get away with putting up (without going through the hell of trying to order permits and having one built for me, which is ridiculous on such a small plot as the garden is) is really going to deter the little beasts.

So, lesson learned is that I will have to look into trying to put up some kind of a fence next year. Or, I just can't grow corn, after all, in my neighborhood. I'm highly disappointed, because I have been waiting all summer to sink my teeth into some fresh corn on the cob. And I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, so it's making me just a little bit crankier than usual. :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I battled the poison ivy....and I won

Ok, so I didn't actually pull it out.....but I don't have a rash today, so that is mega-points for me!

For my one major remaining gardening job of the summer, my last big project is to clean out this bed on the side of the backyard. When I was edging it to make space for the mulch last week, I noticed several giant patches of poison ivy lurking within. I showed it to the lady, who has never noticed it before. I also noticed there are other patches of ivy that look similar, but don't have the telltale irregular notched edges.

They were going to try to remove the poison ivy for me, but didn't have a chance, yet. They wanted to spray, but I warned them against doing so, because all the literature says that just spreads the urushiol oil around.

So, I went out in my "Poison Ivy Haz-Mat" gear to work in the yard today. I wore my gardening shoes with socks pulled all the way up, jeans over my capris, and a long-sleeved button-down shirt over my t-shirt. I pulled my hair back tightly at the crown so that none would fall out, and used Wegmans bags over my gloves. And I did my best to work around it as long as I could stand it.

Why am I freaking out about it? Well, the last two summers, I ended up with cellulitis from poison ivy rashes. I published my perils just about a year ago:

My Poison Ivy Rash Turned Into Cellulitis

But worse than that was the fact that it indirectly also caused me to become anemic, and it took me over six months to recover from that.

So why do I keep gardening? People keep telling me that I shouldn't work in the gardens if I am so sensitive to it. But I love to work outdoors. There isn't a better way to make money in the summers! And since I know what it looks like, I can try to avoid it. I also tell people up front that I will not touch it, and why I won't touch it.

I also always carry poison ivy soap with me, so that if I accidentally come across it, I can immediately wash myself. Laundry detergent also works. And remember to not wash in hot water, as that opens the pores.

If you do get yourself into a nasty patch of poison ivy......

How to Get Doctor's Care for Poison Ivy

Monday, August 3, 2009

More corn missing, but there's a cucumber!

I took the post-rain day walk around the yard this morning, to assess any damage or immediate needs. I noticed that more of the corn stalks have been chewed down (I still say it's the damn squirrels!!) even though they have no cobs on them. grrrr

I also noticed that in one of the pots of cucumbers that is somewhat protected by other pots, there is finally a cucumber growing! So, I may actually get something else this year!

I remember reading somewhere that you should put marigolds around your garden to deter small critters. I doubt there are any left, but I may just have to look for some on clearance or something. Or else, just count my losses and remember to do it next year.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The mystery of the squished green onions solved!

In addition to all of my other produce issues, I have been perplexed by the pot of green onions that have been looking squished. It's the only pot of them that has been tamped down, and I couldn't come up with any good explanations as to why.

Finally, I figured it out.

I was sitting on the back porch steps as the dogs were wandering the yard on their lead. Jeffey (my sister's dog) apparently was thirsty and started drinking the water from the ground that had puddled after the rain. There wasn't much left.

I turned to the side, and when I looked back, Jeffey was stepping in the pot of green onions, attempting to reach a different pot whose drainage holes long ago plugged up, thus causing the pot to fill with inches of water after every rainfall. When I yelled his name for him to get out, he instead lay down in the pot. (It is rectangular, and he perfectly fit inside it.)

It was actually rather adorable, even though I was annoyed that he was squishing my green onions. And I unfortunately did not have a camera or my camera phone on me. You know that had I tried to move to grab it, he would have jumped out and the opportunity would be lost.

I also noticed that ll of the rain has been encouraging the strawberries to grow more and they are shooting runners out of the pots this year. I'll have to rearrange the berry corner to accommodate them!

Lots of rain again today. I will have to scope out the yard tomorrow to see what other fun things are happening.....