Face to face with the Nefarious Mr. Nibbles

The day after I came face to face with the Nefarious Mr. Nibbles, the girls discovered his secret hide-away under the shed as he (or she) poked his nibbly little face out of the hole to seek out and destroy new tasty treats.  Tuesday was the sunflower bed under the bird feeders. Thankfully they were not prized plants, simply sunflowers that had grown opportunistically after falling-out of the feeders or perhaps after being dropped by a bird in flight. We watched as he poked his head out, looked around, clambered out and stretched.  He then stood on his back paws, reached up and grabbed a stalk, pulled it down and decimated it!  I had no idea ground hogs (aka wood chucks) had opposable thumbs!  I have to admit, he is pretty cute…did I just say that?!?!  After taking some pictures and videos, the girls proceeded to stand on the deck and play big red sports horns and trumpets to scare him away.  I haven’t seen him since yesterday morning, perhaps the noise was too much…time will tell.

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See the large sunflower to the front right?  It is history now…

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Grrrrrrrrrr…..We have a video as well, I couldn’t figure out how to load it here, but it is on our Nova Scotia Roots Facebook page if you’d like to see him taunting me in the flesh!

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And to top off the day, look who we found caught in the garden?  The Persistent Peter Radish!! He Guest starred in my daughter’s last Wildlife Wednesday post.  I thought the fence was supposed to keep our furry friends out, not in!!

“But Peter, who was VERY naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate.” ~ Beatrix Potter

Not cool, Mr Nibbles!

We are under attack!  The broccoli has been decimated, the carrot tops reduced to less than a third of their former glory, some of the kale taken down a peg and the new back row veggies and cosmos nibbled to the nubs.

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We had blamed it on slugs, squirrels, bunnies, deer…and I am sure they all earned their share of the blame (the deer did get in one night when I forgot to plug in the electric fence for only 2 hours and I did see a squirrel scurry across the yard with a strawberry…) However, I have met my nemesis.  Stared him down, face to face. Face to snout?  Face to sniffer? Face to…nibbler.  Yes, nibbler…

There were no tell tale tunnels or trotter prints, no scat to identify. Imagine my surprise on Friday afternoon when I was picking some peas and salad fixings for a weekend road trip when I looked at the wood line and saw a big old, roly poly GROUND HOG staring right at me.  He looked irritated that I would be in HIS garden.  His little nibbler was wiggling away as though he was taunting me! I think he knew we were leaving for the weekend and was challenging me. “I dare you to walk away, you know I am going to stroll right in there and eat my fat little belly full!!! Buahahahahahahaha!!”  At least I am pretty sure that was what the maniacal little bugger was thinking.

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Sure enough, I arrived home this afternoon and went out to pick some cilantro for my dinner’s rice and witnessed the carnage. There was only 1 head of broccoli left in the patches of about 20 plants.  He appeared to have trampled and sampled the peas, dined on some carrot tops, followed up with a treat of Romaine lettuce and finally, kale for dessert. Only one kale plant was touched – he must have felt that it was a fairly vile weed, as do my kids. Apparently I need to up my defences.

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Being a Sunday, I did not have many options – even if I did shop on Sundays, nothing was open.  I don’t want to actually hurt him (although a punch in his saucy little nibbler would be quite satisfying, I imagine…).  I had a 50 foot roll of chicken wire that we had purchased last year in a well meaning moment to construct a rabbit fence but never got around to it.  I also had some bamboo and plastic stakes and a few tent pegs.  Inadequate, at best, but better than nothing!

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I managed to get the stakes in and the chicken wire rigged up along the back of the garden where the worst of the damage was done, though I will definitely have to do a better job and find some more fencing for the sides of the garden. It is really tough to maneuver chicken wire and stakes in the rain by yourself.  I threw some extra netting over the last of the broccoli and cauliflower with a little prayer.  Hopefully it will deter Mr Nibbler for a few days until I find a chance to do a better job. I wonder if I can electrify it with the electric fence charger?!  Sigh…..

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Thankfully, I have Strawberry shortcake to make it all better, at least for tonight!

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“You’ve only got 3 choices, give up, give in or give it all you got!” ~ Mumsjugglingact,com

Nightmares about Hares – a “Guest Post” (written by my daughter!!)

Encouraging my children to get involved in our garden has been quite the adventure…  Even though we don’t necessarily take the same lessons out of the garden, it has had an impact on each one of us in one way or another.  This rambling…ahem…memoir…was prepared by my eldest daughter as a “guest blogger” who apparently found our encounters with a very hungry bunny last year very unsettling!  Watching her read, edit and re-word this narrative has once again provided me with yet another special memory of my big girl growing up. This little glimpse into her budding imagination has been a very entertaining (and sometimes humbling) view of a shared event from my child’s perspective, so neat. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have!

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The nemesis.

I am not a gardener… but I will help from time to time with watering. Occasionally if I’m in a good mood, I will also help with planting. When I read this blog it brought back some pretty annoying memories. My mother is very big with gardening, meaning me and my other relatives come a close second to her beloved veggie babies. Sometimes she would come from work and she wouldn’t say hi to us or our dad but just stomped towards her garden and violently started to weed. That’s how we knew it was a bad day at work. She takes very good care of her plants and even my “less than inclined gardener” father was on the scene when an unexpected visitor started to make unscheduled appearances.

The bunny.

Can I have some of those garden goodies? Please? I am hungry!

His plan must have been to show up right when my mom was leaving for work so that all she could really do was yell for the little bunny to go away. He just stood on his two paws with his ears up, usually munching on some lettuce, peas or kale. My mom was furious just watching the thing sit there happily munching. We also had other problems as well, such as deer trying to eat our flowers. So the next summer, after my mother spent weeks of planning, shopping and researching, we finally put up our electric fence. It may have kept wild animals partially out but it also kept our dog out as well. He like to eat kale too. We were working in the garden one day when he ran up and got shocked. He shrieked and started to run around the yard in circles yelping. (It won’t actually hurt him though.) So we had succeeded with keeping the dogs out who would sit in the garden eating our kale and the deer when it was actually turned on. (It is my job to make sure it is on at night. I have really bad memory).

So we were set for a while until the little bunny returned. Sometimes we would send the dog in after him but the dog isn’t all that smart and didn’t have a chance of catching the bunny. And in the slim chance that he did, he probably would have no idea what to do with it. So he was usually just our “back up” in those situations but only really succeeded in chasing it away.

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Wouldn’t you be afraid of this face?!

When my dad got in to the action he brought up the idea of just using a paintball gun and shooting the thing to get it moving but was quickly extinguished when my mom thought the idea was crazy. He is from Northern Ontario and used to hunt with his dad. He was astonished when he found out that kids in Nova Scotia didn’t get a week off in the fall to go goose hunting with the whole family. One day my dad walked in the house with a new slingshot from Canadian Tire. He said that it wouldn’t really hurt the bunny, just get it to go away. He asked me and my sister to fill up a red bucket full of small rocks. By the time he actually hit the bunny – after many, many, many attempts – he simply jumped up in the air landed back on the ground and continued his business eating. Later on in the year the slingshot broke and we just had to accept the that was life and in life there are bunnies. So if you ever had a bunny don’t try to hurt it or scare it away you just have to accept that he’s there and you’re helping him live. It’s not like he can eat all your garden in one day. Or you can just get a dog. Either way embrace the fact that your garden is so great that you even attract nightmares of hares!

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It does look pretty tempting!

– Ally Griffin (not my real name!)