Monday, July 6, 2020

Raccoons on the Rampage

14th June, a Sunday, was perfect weather to putter outdoors. I had previously planted a clematis in the new garden, placing the trellis against the west wall.  In a few days it became obvious that the heat absorbed in the exposed concrete was too intense for the clematis.  Jim moved the trellis around to the wonky wooden fence below the east wall.  I replanted the unhappy clematis and put another beside it.  Both were sturdy little plants from a reputable mail order nursery; they had been grown on in the shelter of the greenhouse after arriving in early May. I tied the vines to the trellis and placed several flat rocks at the base.

This was the devastation that met my gaze when I went outside early Monday morning.
We decided that the rootling had been done by a raccoon. 
A raccoon visited the cat kibble feeder on the lower porch several times during late winter and we hadn't begrudged it the food.
Somewhat reluctantly we decided to bait the Hav-a-Hart trap.

The next morning we had the supposed culprit. Jim was loading the trap into the back of the pickup when I noticed that the raccoon was a female. Immediately we thought of nursing kits left to starve if we trucked their mom away. 'Its your plants, your choice what to do with the coon', said Jim, leaving me to decide.  My soft heart caved, hoping the attack on the clematis was a one-time mistake. We released the coon. Pondering the situation later, I recalled that the mother coon's nipples had been shriveled and dry as though her kits were already weaned.

Tuesday morning. Note that these pots were on the front doorstep.

Wednesday morning.

Thursday morning.

Friday morning, on the lower porch.

On Saturday morning this large and belligerent male was in the trap.
Howard hoisted the trap into his truck and we drove down narrow winding back roads to release the coon in an overgrown field. 
Subsequently we caught and transported two smaller raccoons.
There has been a heated discussion on the local online 'magazine' re dealing with unwelcome visitations from raccoons.
One writer stated that a friend loaned her a collection of 'rubber snakes' which discouraged nocturnal visits to planters and bird feeders.
Another contributor ranted against the practice of transporting coons to remote areas and rather self-righteously confessed that coons trapped on their property were taken to the farm of a friend who 'uses them to train his dogs.'  
Jim doesn't shoot animals, but I contend that a quick bullet would be a more merciful end than being turned loose to be torn apart by hounds in training!

I replanted the clematis vines twice before they were left to grow in peace.
I was able to salvage and re-pot most of the plants thrown about during Mr. Raccoon's nightly rampages. We have since seen a youngish coon mooching about on the front steps but it has caused no upsets. 
We've had visiting raccoons in other locations, never any who created havoc.
I've always considered them rather appealing with their pointy masked faces and bushy tails.
Since the destruction ended with the removal of the large male, I hope he was one of a kind.

I started this post using the new blogger format. I loaded 3 photos, couldn't load the remainder so reverted to the older format.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

June Gardening

More photos than words, trying to catch up with the intense round of gardening that has been our focus since late in May.
We have put in vegetables at the Dry Creek property as a sort of communal 'family garden', having planted the available space in the home garden.

This is the coolest June we have experienced in Kentucky, wonderful weather for working outdoors.
Rain, sometimes in torrential bursts, has broken the spell of dry weather.

A refined variety of milkweed for the benefit of butterflies.

Lauren's Grape poppies sprang up in several spots amongst the Knock-out roses.

A David Austin rose, one of the last to bloom before the plague of Japanese beetles began their destructive work.

The raspberry pink foxgloves started last season from seed.

Prairie Coneflower, the petals more delicate than the common variety.
I can see that it should be staked to be at its best.

First stage of the garden behind the west retaining wall.  Jim suddenly took an interest in this project I had contemplated without any real idea how to proceed. 
We brought the stones from the creek bed at the other property, along with topsoil for a raised planting area.
I had pointed out that the treated timbers were already here, salvaged from the fences we took down.

One of the Dry Creek gardens.

Preparing the garden at Dry Creek.

Beans began the climb up the fence.

We've been eating cucumbers for three weeks

A stand of purple coneflower, most of them started three years ago from seed, a few plants moved here have colonized.

Purple basil.

The earliest planted nasturtiums are tired now, but the seeds dropped will soon be reviving the planter.
I began sorting photos for this post during the last week of June, so both flower and vegetable gardens have changed since. 
I sheared back the rose hedge, clipped the fading blooms from the nepeta, cut down the foxgloves.
July is the season of long hot and humid days, a time to work in the gardens early in the morning.
The great rush of planting is over; now we harvest, combat the 'bugs' and weeds, try to ward off tomato blight.