Thursday, October 27, 2005

Freddie the vole

By some miracle I felt a lot better today. No more sore throat, no sniffles - it was wonderful! I don't know how I managed to kick this cold, but I did. And after not being out of the house for two days I wanted out badly so I decided to cut the front lawn and clean out the front garden.

It went well. Until Freddie showed up.

I discovered Freddie quite by accident during the summer when I was weeding the garden. He ran along the grass, dangerously close to my shoes, and popped back into the safety of the flagstone garden wall. I didn't scream. I wanted to, and then I very quickly determined the weeding was over for the day (who are we kidding - for the summer), but I didn't scream.

My Beloved spotted Freddie a few times after I did, you know, after the weeding suddenly became his responsibility. He also found Freddie's elaborate system of burrows and tunnels beneath the cover of our potato vines and the little purple flowering groundcover neither of us can remember the name of.

We discovered that Freddie likes lilies after he ate my birthday presents - two beautiful Stargazer lily bulbs (my favourite flowers) that my Mom and Dad gave me on the saddest birthday of my life this past April. I hated Freddie a little after that. Mostly he just scares me, but I do have to admit that I full out hate him for eating my Stargazers.

Anyway, once the surviving assembly of flowers and shrubs took hold and took off, we didn't have to do all that much weeding and Freddie was left to his own devices with the run of the garden. For the most part anyway. My Beloved did try to force an eviction by putting Lucy the cat's poop in a few of his burrow holes, but apparently Freddie doesn't mind cat poop. When all was said and done we were left with moldy cat turds and additional burrows.

We all knew the day was coming when the plants would die and be pulled out, requiring a reassessment our uneasy relationship with Freddie. And today was the day.

Freddie won this round. I did the best I could and removed probably 75% of the dead or dying plants, but I just couldn't bring myself to take out the remaining groundcover or turn over the soil. I caught sight of him twice, ducking for cover, and that was enough for me. I realize I'm a thousand times his size and both times I saw him he was running away from me, but small things that move fast scare me. And Freddie is small and extraordinarily fast.

As much as he scares me, and as much as I hate him for eating my birthday present, I felt a little bad for the little squirt. He's had a beautiful, safe, comfy home all summer, and today the wrecking crew came in. I don't know what voles do in the winter, but we're making his safe little have a barren, exposed wasteland. I know it's our garden and we can't let a vole run our lives, but, well, I guess I'm feeling weak. I know what it's like to have your safe, comfortable world turned upside down and I don't know if I have the stomach to inflict that on another creature.

Even if he is a lily eating vole.

So I don't know what the answer is. We really do have to finish cleaning out the garden and I'm not crazy about him staying there, but where else will he go? I'd love to be able to get down on my hands and knees and get my fingers in the dirt next spring, but if I know Freddie's just inches away tunneling underground or, even worse, running past my knees, I won't enjoy it at all. So where do we go from here?

Does anyone want a vole?

7 comments:

Lori said...

I have a nice big overgrown hay field behind my house that I'm sure Freddie the Vole would LOVE! As long as he would stay there and not try to inhabit my house, therefore, getting eaten by my cats.....hmmm, how much do you suppose shipping would be? ;-)

Sherry said...

Oh my - the joys of voles and their elaborate escape routes. I don't have any words of wisdom, but yes, it's a little unsettling when they scurry past you when you least expect it. And the little bugger - eating stargazer bulbs?!? The NERVE! I don't want him either - he'll eat my stargazers too ... and probably move on to other vole delicacies in my garden. ;o)

Teresa said...

I found these two links with info on them. I guess we have them too! I didn't realize that they were voles, I just assumed they were regular mice. Apparently you would also have to watch out for tree damage too! (I wonder if there was something suspicious with that first tree not making it...could Freddie have been a little hungry for tree root?) Something to consider...

http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/wildlife/g887.htm

http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/meadow_vole.htm

Good luck.

Bronwyn said...

Our biggest problem is squirrels. I don't even think about planting any kind of bulbs anymore, lest I want the beds dug up by our furry-tailed friends. You are so much more organized with your garden than I am (and besides the mowing of the lawn, it's all my responsibility). I know I still have all of the fall chores to do, but I am so tempted just to close my eyes and forget about it, lol!

Catherine said...

I'll trade you your vole for our snake. It's big and slithery and I'm deathly afraid of it. How big CAN garden snakes get anyway? I could send you the snake and he could eat your vole. But then you'll have a snake. Guess we both have to suffer. sigh

Abby said...

So, you've tried poop, but how do you feel about urine?

"Predator odors are most displeasing to voles. Fox and coyote urines can often be bought at trapper supply houses." (http://landscaping.about.com/cs/pests/a/vole_control_4.htm)

I hope you can find a way to evict Freddie soon, so you can enjoy gardening again!

kate said...

Shoot him.

I am afraid i have no patience for pests...ooh they make me so mad, especially the squirrels now that run through my walls and dig in my newly-planted garden. AIIIIGH. Though really i am a softy at heart. What i would *actually* do is try to catch him in a Hav-a-Heart cage and then put him in the car and drive far far away and find a nice field to let him out in. We used to do this with the mice when we lived in VA. And when we moved into our current house we had *huge* cockroach in the bathroom which i nicknamed Malachi -- and yes, my dh caught him in a tuppeware container, and yes i drove out and let him loose...