Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Unwanted Farm Guests


Something amazing to me has happened this year. Notice the giant squash plant above. I have not seen not one squash bug this year. YET! 

So what have I done differently. I have somewhat changed my outlook and opened my garden up to all the unwanted guests. 

I now have bird nests all the way around the perimeter of my property and on year 2 every single box has remained full all summer long thus far. We have watched the robins and the wrens just work their little beaks to the bone keeping all those babies fed. Every time you see a bird they have had a beak full of bug of some sort. 

We have two bird feeder stations located on the property to feed the birds complete with suet. 

And maybe more importantly I have shared the fruit with the birds. I left about maybe 1/8 of the final plum harvest on the tree for the birds. The small mulberry harvest this year on a very young tree I just left for the birds. And in return they have left the blueberries alone and I have and am still enjoying a bumper crop of blueberries and blackberries with actually very little bird damage. And no nets!

Everyone else is complaining about tomato hornworms and thus far I have not seen one. I have done practically no spraying other than bt on the cabbage for the little green cabbage worms. And that is considered an acceptable organic spray. 

What else have I done differently? The ducks.......

This year the ducks have roamed the property freely eating bugs, grubs, worms and  larvae constantly. All day long they forage through the beds and gardens eating anything that moves. And in return I use the water from their small wading pools placed around the property as manure tea. I have seen a huge improvement in the plants that we have added this tea to. Especially the small trees. 

Remember those hot compost piles I have been working on. Some of the finished ones we applied to the asparagus beds today to make room for new future piles. Look at all that good rich compost used as mulch on the base of those asparagus fronds. A major component of those compost piles is the duck litter from the duck house. 

When digging the compost we found a snake nest with 7 eggs from a huge speckled king snake that we saw in the compost pile the other day. This is great and we are happy to welcome her to our garden. Not only will she feast on the voles and mice around the property but these snakes actually attack and eat poisonous snakes like the copperhead which is prevalent in my area. 

So for that reason alone we left Miss Sneaky Snake's eggs to remain in a pile to hatch. Hoping for lots of little baby sneaky snake ninja babies to keep the bad snakes away. 

So far mama Sneaky Snake has not messed with the chickens or their eggs. 

(Stock photo not taken on my property of king snake killing a copperhead)

So for now our sharing of the bounty with some of our wild neighbors seems to be working. Less bugs, less spraying and maybe even a safer garden. Instead of spending all that money on nets to keep the birds out just plant enough for everyone and sharing for us has actually netted more for us I think. 

We have had to take out some squirrels and a couple rabbits. You can't have everything. The squirrels were getting destructive and chewing up wiring and things and damaging property. We just had too many. My husband has so far taken out over 20 squirrels just around our house. 

Just a bit of food for thought. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


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  1. Great information. Thanks, CQ.

  2. A happy co-existence with nature's critters---that can be a good thing.

  3. Thanks so much, I really needed this encouragement. I'm going to put up some bird houses now! I'm even considering ducks, too. Question: Do you end up with a lot of duck poop all over your property? One year we had Canada geese hanging around and I was always stepping in it, yuck! Many thanks!

  4. I cannot stand geese for that very reason. They are nasty birds. Ducks are not quite as bad if you keep the flock small. I put their water stations far away from my home and sidewalks are which is where they gravitate to. Their water does get nasty because they poop in it. We scoop it out and treat it as manure tea. We pretty well allow them to free range the property. They do occasionally pull a leaf or two but so far nothing devastating. Chickens are far too destructive to free range in a garden as they scratch everything up and destroy the mulch around things. Besides geese are mean!

  5. Aha! Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate being able to ask someone who's actually done it. Esp. the tip about locating the water stations away from the house. Gonna speak with DH tonight.
    Also, do you have to feed the ducks, or is free foraging on your property enough for them?

    1. I feed them some and especially in the winter. But most of the time they forage happily and eat very little pellets preferring to stroll the property looking for anything that moves to eat. The only time I have to be careful is when I have small seedlings. They will eat the tender shoots. So when the garden is small or if i have small stuff set out my husband made wire rings I can set around things so that the ducks don't nibble.


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