Monday, May 28, 2012

Groundhog Fence 2.0

Well, actually, it's more like Groundhog Fence 1.1, since we didn't replace the old fence, merely added on to it.

Some of you may recall that two years ago, after putting up a fence to keep our resident groundhog out of our garden, we discovered that he was actually a she, and her two little baby groundhogs were small enough to squeeze through the gaps in the garden fence. Fortunately, before long they grew to a reasonable size, but not before munching our zucchini seedlings right up. Last year we kept a sharp eye out, but no more baby groundhogs showed up and we only saw adult ones occasionally, so we figured maybe they'd moved out. But nope—this past Friday, just as we were about to leave for the weekend, we spotted two little furballs (accompanied by a mama furball) munching on weeds in the yard, and after watching them surreptitiously for a few minutes, sure enough, we saw one of them squeeze right through the fence into the garden. And of course, since we had to leave in an hour or so, there was no time to do anything about it.

However, upon returning today to find the garden not too badly ravaged in our absence (a couple of pea plants had been munched down, and one of the zucchini leaves torn up a bit, but everything else seemed intact), we decided it was time to stop them while we still could. So we motored off to the local big box store and picked up a couple of rolls of chicken wire with a 1-inch mesh. We figure any critter small enough to squeeze through that probably isn't going to be out on its own.

Our Groundhog Fence 1.0 was a three-foot tall construction of rectangular wire mesh, with a one-foot "skirt" protruding out all around the bottom to keep those clever little rascals from digging right under it. So the first step in constructing Groundhog Fence 2.0 was to go around and remove the rocks we'd put in place to hold down the skirt. (And they'd just gotten to the point where they were almost entirely hidden by dirt and vegetation, too.) Then, with me holding the roll and unfurling it as needed, Brian proceeded along the fence, putting up an outer layer of chicken wire one and a half feet high, with a six-inch skirt along the bottom. We figure that ought to be tall enough to keep out the babies until they've grown too big to squeeze through the larger mesh. We affixed the new outer layer to the original fence with snipped-off lengths of wire, and we put the rocks back in place as we went along to hold it down. (On the side nearest the groundhog hole, we reinforced the perimeter with a couple of additional bricks.) The photo doesn't have the best resolution, but if you click to enlarge it, you should be able to see the two distinct layers.

As it turns out, we were wise to brave the blazing sun and deal with this promptly, rather than putting it off until tomorrow as we originally thought we might. No sooner had we finished the job (and washed off the sunscreen with which we'd slathered ourselves—why is it that the "natural" kind is so particularly gooey and gross?) than we looked out the window and saw not two, but four little baby groundhogs foraging in the yard under the attentive eye of Mama Groundhog. So it looks like we dodged a bullet there.

Just try and get at our pepper plants now, you little marmots!
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