Groundhog Damage

Earlier this summer, I blamed a baby skunk (and its presumed nearby family) for destroying our broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Despite putting a fence around our brassica bed, we were still losing branches off of those crops:

But not, as you can clearly see in the photo above, any nibbles off the cabbages. What a strange creature! It takes all the trouble to get in around the fencing, and nibbles on less-than-ideal remnants of broccoli and Brussels sprouts while completely ignoring big, beautiful cabbages than are a foot away.

Well, up until earlier this week, that is. That's when, during a stroll to the compost pile, I discovered that A) the skunk had finally sampled a bit of a cabbage, and
B) it's not a skunk at all, but a groundhog!

He saw me and ran, giving away his point of entry in the process.

So clearly there's a major weakness in our chicken wire fencing around the "C." The "doorway" to the keyhole just has loose fencing stretched across it, and we had been using a scrap of board from the building of the raised beds as a barrier (that's the board in the center of our redneck fencing sandwich). The groundhog just nosed under the fence and scrambled over the board, which somehow didn't quite fall over flat.

Our new and (very slightly) improved barrier is above. Kirk got a big post to brace the board on one side, and two very heavy concrete bricks to hold the other side in place. It isn't at all pretty, but so far it has been effective — no more damage in that bed.

Alas, this has led the groundhog to sample some easier pickings:

Like almost half of the leaves of the sweet potato vines.

And the parsnip tops. 

Luckily for us, these are root vegetables that get harvested very late. This means that the beast didn't eat anything we are planning to eat ourselves, and there's still time for the plant to put out new leaves and keep growing. The roots might end up a little smaller than they would have been otherwise, but it shouldn't be a disaster. In fact, it might be a blessing in disguise, since last year we had some really massive sweet potatoes.

Our quick fix to protect the rest of the sweet potatoes was to crack out our row cover fabric and roll it over the bed — didn't even bother with any framing underneath, since these vines already trail along the ground. So far, so good. The stupid groundhog hasn't gotten into anything else, either.



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