Sunday, July 06, 2008

Another Cabin Dwelling Mystery Explained

OK - so to be precise, I don't live in a cabin anymore - because nearly eight years ago I moved on up and got plumbing (although I didn't move on up to the hills, so I still freeze my bottom off down here in the Valley). Still, in important ways I remain closer to cabin-dwelling than not - one only has to tour my little enclave of Alaska-Appalachia to figure that out - from the press plate-roofed woodshed, to the chicken coop made of dumpster-salvaged wood and scraps.

But whether in cabin or plumbed "bungalow" (a quaint term for the rectangular T-11 box I currently reside in), I have always gardened - and I have always had a lot of containers planted with flowers and veggies. And every single year, they have been dug in by little red rats (aka red squirrels). At first, I assumed they were squirreling stuff away in the planters - so I looked for little caches of sunflower seeds.

None to be found.

Then I assumed they were eating the plant roots - nope, generally what plants didn't get dug out by the little bastards survived. Finally last week, I found out what it is red rats are after in the planters ... salt.

Salt from the liquid fertilizers, salts from the water. As I sat on my deck reading, I watched this particular fellow go from container to container, digging below the soil line and licking (and at times chewing) at the salt line left from years of watering and fertilizing plants. It didn't miss a one, and at every one, it dug in to get to the evaporation line.

Easy enough to fix in coming summers. And no, I don't use .22. They just come back. I tend to prevention rather than intervention. Besides flushing containers to wash out the salts is better for the plants anyway.

1 comment:

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

How many squirrels does it take to make a good meal? Hmmmmm...