Garden, Groundhog, and Writing Updates

You may have noticed me blogging less this month, and that has a bit to do with increased groundhog patrol and much to do with working to finish my Lyme disease book. The garden took a turn towards Autumn with new mum’s and the tall sedum starting to put on its show:

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That back area near the shed and sedum is a major groundhog zone, and we’re “enjoying” groundhogs four and five of the season. I put enjoying in quotes, because I’m really not enjoying these greedy munchers, but David has all manner of fun watching and listening to me try to patrol them. Lucy the Starchild groundhog created a mighty mess in our shed and then got hit by a car. We miss her dreamy yet sloppy ways. Some as yet unknown neighbor poisoned the next resident groundhog, and then a third groundhog cannibalized that one and died, too. Totally gross and quite sad. Our next door neighbor put the third one out of its misery once we deduced what happened. We didn’t want #3 to suffer like #2. Still no word on who or what poisoned them, but it made me appreciate people sharing about the much kinder Havahart relocation traps.

We had two blissful weeks of no groundhogs, and then Big Fat Mama brought Rascal Jr. to our shed. “Here’s a nice spot for you, Junior. Look, cosmos!” Big Fat Mama lives on and under the “natural buffer zone” across the street. She visits Junior for dinner once per week when the cosmos start to recover, just in time for a tasty treat. The thing about Rascal Jr. is he’s a “special” groundhog. A savant. Other neighbors loaned me their Havahart trap and offered to relocate him to a more groundhog receptive area in the country. Rascal Jr., aka “R.J.,” loves entering that trap for the groundhog buffet, but not once has he ever triggered the mechanism. I even tried a different — guaranteed to work in minutes — relocation trap, but he’s got those things down.

Unlike all the other groundhogs, R.J. appears to have an impaired sense of smell. For months I used Expel spray on the front garden, and with the exception of me, no mammals came near it. I find the scent of Expel tolerable, but its minty rosemary overpowers the more sensitive noses of hungry critters. Well, not R.J.! He gobbled up the Expel sprayed chard, lettuce, parsley and pansies, leaving Skeletor stems and barely bothering to run away when I chased him out of the garden. He’s got that teenager rebel vibe in addition to his savant qualities.

The Rule is: groundhogs can live and let live in the backyard (within reason), but never, ever, EVER go into the front yard garden! Destroying the front yard garden turns the Biggest Faery into a Fire Faery in no time flat.

Well, I couldn’t spend all my time chasing Rascal Jr. and intending he never breeds to pass on his funky gene pool, so I picked up some Repels All spray from the local garden store. It repels me almost as much as R.J., but it does seem to work. If I miss an area of a preferred plant, he eats it, so I’ve begun to double up the deterrent by sprinkling hot pepper flakes all over the front yard munchies. For the most part, that works, and the pepper flakes look like confetti.

I moved a potted tomato plant from way up front to the backyard when some squirrels or possibly two-legged’s swiped two Roma tomatoes just as they began to ripen. I replaced it with a hardy red rose bush, which makes me happy, but the tomato relocation made Big Fat Mama very happy. I swear those groundhogs are psychic, because she just knew it was back there and visited Junior even before the cosmos had greens again. Unlike most critters, she started inhaling the nightshade leaves, which launched me to Repels All the backyard, too, while David stood inside laughing at me.

I was so determined to show Big Fat Mama who’s boss that I pumped the spray before opening the nozzle so that when I did open the nozzle, my hand got drenched. I then doused the tomato plant, and Big Fat Mama took the hint. Just sixteen hand washings later, I was almost able to sleep with that hand near my face. I spent the evening researching metal cloches and figuring out how to build a concrete block floor, hardware cloth fenced Garden Tower cage next year, while also pondering if I just want to turn the front garden into a garden of entirely rodent and deer repellent plants that draw hummingbirds, butterflies, birds and pollinators. I still have mint and many herbs up front, which, other than the parsley, seem distasteful to most critters, including R.J. Fortunately, he doesn’t like cosmos, and Big Fat Mama hates repellant, so I have one pretty cosmo plant up front:

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In Spring, I surrounded my lettuce with garlic and onions in the front raised beds, and that worked well. Of course, that was pre-Rascal Jr., who’s really a full fledged rascal with a wicked fast metabolism. Between the groundhog buffet and all his other treats, he must not have inherited Big Fat Mama’s obesity gene. Only her pushiness. I don’t want the front yard garden to become one of those multi-generational groundhog pathways, but I do still have an abundance of edibles there, including various kales, chard, beets, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, hot peppers, and flowers. I love me some fresh picked produce, even if it now takes me five minutes to clean it with Veggie Wash!

Anyway … it’s a project. These groundhogs can totally hear me. They look right at me whenever I communicate with them; they just don’t care. The faeries laugh at me as much as David and the groundhogs do. I could call in last year’s very effective cat patrol, but I do love all the birds this year, which I always needed to warn away when I called in the cats. If I opt for the Garden Tower out back next year, I’ll need to have it on lock down. I’m actually getting back the first generation Garden Tower I gave our friend Tim in 2016. His daughter offered a full circle return, and we accepted. We’ll see how it all plays out. I do love all the pretties, and fresh produce feels so alive when just picked. It would be nice not to need any vigilance and to still have abundant harvests, so the Garden Tower 2 in our shed may return to use next year now that I know what goes where in the yard.

And now … the Writing Update:

The Metaphysics of Lyme Disease now has over 94,000 words and counting. Although it sounds like I spend all my time chasing groundhogs, I really spend most of the day in phone sessions and writing this book. I still hope and plan to release it this year. I love all the contributors’ sections, and my own writing feels like a Russian doll. Every chapter I write begets another, somewhat similar, but necessary one. Adding astrology into the mix has expanded the project but also gives me a kind of shorthand to describe energetic patterns I’ve noticed in 14+ years of supporting people with Chronic Lyme. I don’t want to jinx my writing process by sharing too much here. Let’s just say, it’s coming along even better than expected, and the detour this Spring was well worth the time exchanged for more focused content.

Other Quick Updates:

Tania and I still have a couple spots left in the Fall Equinox in Tahoe workshop, “Living a More Magickal Life with Laura Bruno and Tania Marie.” You can find details and sign up here. This is the first and only workshop we’re co-teaching together, because Tania won’t be teaching at all after this September. I’ve also backed off teaching in order to focus more on writing. There’s a chance I may still teach some Reiki classes in 2019, but this workshop with Tania will be my first and last class taught in quite awhile.

You can find August Specials here. The Lugh’s Clues Special is quite popular, and I LOVE doing those sessions! What great ideas you have! It’s such an honor to support people wanting to pay it forward.

In sidewalk news … our hard work appears to be paying off. The Assistant Director of Public Works let us know that he rewrote our Township’s definition of “Complete Streets” in such a way that exempts our neighborhood from the 15-feet-into-our-yards, destroy our trees sidewalk requirement. Progress. He presents his new proposal to the Township Board tonight but feels they will accept his amendments. Fingers, toes and wings crossed for that. Between R.J., AT&T, and the Township Board, our front yard has sure been a hot commodity in 2018. Hopefully liberator Uranus in Taurus will continue to put the kibosh on usurpers and tyrants! πŸ˜‰

That’s all for now … wishing you and yours a lovely week!

21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Eliza Ayres on August 14, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Destroying the front yard garden turns the Biggest Faery into a Fire Faery in no time flat.”
    LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL is what David does. Well, it’s more like a silent chuckle from behind the eyes that’s way louder than an actual laugh out loud. πŸ˜‰

    Like

  4. Loved all your musings and the update. πŸ™‚

    WordPress.com | laurabruno posted: “You may have noticed me blogging less this month, and that has a bit to do with increased groundhog patrol and much to do with working to finish my Lyme disease book. The garden took a turn towards Autumn with new mum’s and the tall sedum starting to put ” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, saintlyanne! (I edited your comment before approving it so as not to display your email address — just in case you receive notification that I edited it.)

    Like

  6. UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Woohoo! Rascal Junior is being relocated as I type. It took three humans putting our brains together, two traps and a complex cabbage wrap job, but we got him. He’s super annoying, but we didn’t want him to suffer the poisoning fate of the other groundhogs. … And he probably would have, because I have never encountered such a persistent pest. Now he’ll get to run free on undeveloped land where no one will mind his voracious appetite.

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  7. Two other updates: the trap that worked way better than the Havahart was the Kage All Animal Trap (36″ x 13″x13″), which has an easier trigger plate. It still took jewelry wrapping skills on the cabbage, but it did work.

    Also, for those people who keep asking, yes, we are aware of the Kalamazoo County water issue. It has not affected Kalamazoo City water, and we’re being told that it cannot do so. I’m not sure I believe them that it’s impossible, but the area where it’s contaminated has wells near landfills from old paper factories. Why anyone would do that, I don’t know! In any case, we have extra Berkey filters, are looking into a full house filtration system, as well as water filters for garden hoses. Orgone, Reiki and the usual are being sent to the situation … never a dull moment at ground zero.

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  8. Reblogged this on Illuminations Now!!.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So loved your post, sorry to hear Rascal Jr has been giving you the run around.. But your garden despite all his hits, is looking great.. My comos have not done so well this year due to lack of rain.. I love your planting.. Veggies among flowers.. Beautiful..
    Thank you for your humour… You made me chuckle throughout the read..
    Much love to you and your hubby wishing you well dear Laura..
    And I think many of this Summer have been taking longer vacations from Blog Land.. ❀
    Hugs and Love..

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We have a young groundhog often seen up in the trees eating squirrel type stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Posted by Kieron on August 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    “…when some squirrels or possibly two-legged’s swiped two Roma tomatoes just as they began to ripen” Oh they all do that, those little rodent bastards. I wouldn’t mind one or two with a bite taken out and left to rot nearby, but to go back for another one within hours and repeat the vandalism? Grrr!

    BTW toothpaste sometimes removes or reduces strong odors from hands. I don’t see it mentioned here so thought I would.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Sue! Yes, always good to keep a sense of humor, especially with groundhogs. πŸ™‚ I’ve enjoyed my focused writing and gardening, hiking, getting to know neighbors. I do love my online blog family, but as you, know, it’s important to take some breaks from the virtual world. Hugs and love to you … and happy harvests! Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, Bo, unfortunately, I discovered that they can, indeed climb. I’ve seen them in fruit trees eating apples. Definitely if I use the Garden Tower it would need to become a fortress … or else a groundhog jungle gym and after/during working buffet.

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  14. Oh, I hadn’t heard that about toothpaste before. Thanks, Kieron. Is it any toothpaste or a particular type? I use three different types, but none of them are “normal” toothpastes.

    I was so happy to leave Goshen’s black squirrels behind … but the groundhogs are a Kalamazoo special. I think we must have more groundhogs here per capita than most places. Our across the street neighbors used to live in the country, and she said they have way more wildlife in our neighborhood than they ever saw in 10 years of living the rural life. We’re within walking distance of pretty much modern convenience, but the neighborhood feels “country” as soon as you turn down our street off one of the main drags through town. It’s wild … in many senses of that word!

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  15. Yes I fully am with you about blogging breaks.. Like you, I have been enjoying life and living away from the computer.. Love and Hugs and keep enjoying.. and send the animals deva’s a message.. πŸ˜€ that they may take Jr may take up residence else where πŸ˜‰ ❀ Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Posted by Kieron on August 16, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Commercial big-box store type toothpaste does it best, IMO, and not the gel type but the opaque “paste” type. I suppose a “natural ingredients” toothpaste without commercial chemicals and colors would work, but I have not tried it for this purpose. Also I’m not sure but I think baking soda made into a paste with a bit of water and applied to the affected skin would also work on odors. Baking soda is wonderful stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Posted by Anthony on August 16, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    It might be partly the orgonite you have which is calling in the wildlife. I know after I first got mine, the vegetation around my house went wild and then every insect, bird, and mammal in the area seemed to move in. Equilibrium finally set in when an old feral cat showed up, which chased off all the vermin.

    So don’t be afraid to call in the cats – there are probably so many groundhogs there because their natural predators are gone. And, the cats will be too small to do much more than encourage the ‘hogs to move away.

    Now that my property has been desertified (thanks to my land lord), the first things to come back are the bees, hornets and wasps! I can’t understand why because there is NOTHING for them to pollinate or feed on, but they are a MAJOR problem because they swarm me while I’m outside working. All I’m doing is digging up the roots and stumps of what was there so I can plant more stuff later, but they are PISSED. I may have to call in outside help to deal with it; pleading with them that I will plant some veggies for them after I’m done isn’t working 😦

    Good luck on the writing, and I’ll check back with you after a few more planets get off their retrograde kick –

    Anthony

    Liked by 1 person

  18. https://laurabruno.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/slumlord-beekeeper/

    Wasps and bees are my friend — some of the best yard protectors out there, at least protection from humans. Some of them make their nests in rotting wood, so it’s possible they’re pissed because you’re destroying their home(s).

    Thanks about the writing! Just had another out of town guest for a couple days and now back to writing tomorrow. πŸ™‚

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  19. Posted by Judy Plummer on August 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Laura, do you know about this lady, Ingrid Naiman?
    She knows much about many things, and is particularly interesting about Lyme. Here’s one of her websites that can lead you to more. https://invisibleepidemics.com/
    Judy

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thanks, Judy. Someone mentioned her before, but I don’t know a lot about her. Thanks for the link!

    Like

  21. […] the biggest news in the gardening world is that just as I was writing about the very precocious and determined Rascal Jr., our next door neighbor succeeded in trapping and “relocating him to a nice place in the […]

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