Thursday, September 12, 2013

Intruder Alert Field 1!

                In my mind, I hear an alarm going off…BAA! BAA!BAA!... with red lights illuminating the scene and a giant spot light scanning the ground… But such is not the case. Not even close. Here is the story…
                On Tuesday morning, I was weeding galinsoga out of the dill and carrots in Row 2 of Field 1. Field 1 is more like a garden in size and was one of the gardens my parents used when I was a kid. Here is a picture…

Back in the seventies, there was no fencing around Field 1 but the size is about the same. Since I started using the parcel of land for organic vegetable production, erecting a fence to keep out the mammals that love to eat organic vegetables was quickly deemed necessary. All one needs to do is witness the aftermath of meandering deer dining on one’s salad mix to determine that such future dining situations need to be deterred.
                Hence the fence. And it has done an admirable job over the past ten years or so. In fact, it has become quite reliable and I don’t even think about mammal damage in the field… But back to the story…
                Field 1 has only four rows in it. Currently, there is a row of salad mix, a row of kale and red cabbage, a row of chard and a row of carrots, dill, cilantro and… galinsoga.

In this picture, the tall stuff at the top of the picture is the galinsoga I was weeding on Tuesday. Around one o’clock, I stopped weeding and left to go to the Tuesday farmer’s market in downtown Westminster. My return was near 6 o’clock. And what I witnessed in Field 1 was nothing close to what was there when I left five hours earlier.

This may be hard to make out in the picture, but the lettuce at the bottom of the picture is as it should be… ready for harvest. All of the lettuce above in the picture had been devoured. Gone. ALL of the salad mix for Saturday’s market… GONE! There is only one thing that I know that can devour so much salad mix in so little time… a groundhog… a f#$%ing groundhog!
                The damage was extensive, although it did not appear to have touched the chard, kale or cabbage. It definitely had investigated the entire field…

It nibbled the tops off the cilantro, and EVEN some of the galinsoga!

                I had no doubt at all that a groundhog was the culprit, so I searched for the entry point. Groundhogs tunnel under things, in this case the chicken wire buried in the ground at the bottom of the deer fence. And there it was… the entry point!

                This is also hard to make out, but it is a hole through which the groundhog dug its way inside the fence. Nasty, vile, disgusting creatures!
                I will skip to the end at this point. Over the years, I have become quite adept at “containing” groundhogs, if you will. Suffice it to say that the intruder “didn’t make it.” Enough on that.
                The issue behind this entry, yet another Tale of Idyllia, is to reveal to the reader how frustrating farming can be. It is difficult to consider all of the work involved in erecting the deer fence, along with the field maintenance to grow healthy organic salad mix, etc., but it is A LOT of work. And then, from seemingly out of nowhere, your crop is gone. All of the salad mix that was to be sold at the Downtown Westminster Farmer’s Market this weekend… gone!
                (If only the bank holding my mortgage would commiserate with such intrusions...)

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