Out Foxing the Wildlife

Still counting down to the bulk of the planting for 2021 in the Food It Yourself garden. We will start hardening off our seedlings this week. I turned over the soil in the raised beds again this weekend. This should take care of all the weeds that popped up after the first time I turned the soil. Our early planting efforts are starting to show their worth. The earliest planting of bok choy has its first set of true leaves. Those string beans I gave up on actually sprouted. And best of all my fruit salad tree has leaves on all four branches! The nectarine branch even has two flower buds.

Yes, those flowers will have to come off. The branch is too thin and the roots are not developed enough to support fruit. In fact, much of what I have been doing around the garden lately is getting rid of things. I took a dozen bags of raked-up leaves, plus two cubic yards of twigs and branches, to our town’s yard waste drop off. I pulled loads of wild mustard and celandine from along our fence line. I had to do a major trim of the rhubarb patch because every single crown bolted.

The main thing we are trying to get rid of, however, are the animals that have been trying to get into the chicken coop. We had a small roof rat stealing snacks from the feed trough this winter. Johnny Ratten has since been relocated to a lovely wooded area several miles away. Then, this happened a couple weeks ago:

The electric fence went up just hours after this video was captured. We wanted even more security for our flock, though. Mr. Food It Yourself came up with a good plan for adding extra critter-resistance to the run. Take a look.

Fist, we used the rototiller to make a trench next to the run. This exposed a large number of worms, grubs, centipedes, and pill bugs, which the chickens enjoyed.
We bent lengths of 24 inch tall, quarter-inch hardware cloth into an “L” shape. The horizontal edge (about one-third the height of the hardware cloth) went into the trench. This should discourage rats, chipmunks, mice, and Mr. Fox from digging under fence and into the run.
We secured the upright edge to the run with zip ties. This will prevent the chickens from poking their heads out of the run, and keep predators from reaching in at chicken height.

This process was repeated all around the coop. It was a not very difficult to do. It did take some time, though. We spent a bit on the hardware cloth and some snips to cut it. It is worth the cost and labor to know that our hens are safe, day and night. Also, we now have some extra hardware cloth to play with.

What projects are you working on in your garden? Share in the comments.