Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Nov. 30, 2006)
Guess whos coming for dinner?
How many is too many? How friendly is too friendly? When is it time to shut the
gate and say enough is enough? Whos coming for dinner?
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|Fur at the feeder ... guess
whos coming for dinner?
My travels have taken me to varying eco-systems where an overwhelming passion to
garden has offered many challenges and rewards.
Each location has presented its own special circumstances, problems and gifts:
soil or very little soil, good soil, bad soil, sand, salt, rocks, insects, climate,
length of season, velocity of wind, availability of water, acidity, organic matter,
invasive species, planting zone, companion plantings and attraction for
Each garden required unique solutions. Each garden provided unique rewards. But
the challenge and most difficult decisions that I eventually come up against are:
When is enough enough? Heres where my dilemma begins. If I am to clear the
land to provide myself with a garden, then isnt it also my responsibility to
provide a small portion of that land to remain a natural habitat for wild
creatures? This may sound like a clear-cut concept, but the implications are not
always easily solved. Habitat may be as effortless as a small pile of logs or brush
at the perimeter for snakes to seek shelter and a native plant garden. It may be a
pole of martin houses, bird feeders, owl house, blue bird homes upon fence posts, a
bird bath, a salt lick for deer, a tolerated beaver dam at the river, a fox burrow,
a wolf watching, a family of raccoons, or opossum reunion under an overturned canoe
and so on. You get the picture. But when is enough enough?
Recently Ive had several calls and e-mails from wildlife friendly friends
You know how much I enjoy wildlife, but last night one of the raccoons kept
us up with his carousing and fighting. He seemed angry at the world and even went
so far as to lunge at the back door intimidating the family dog and cat. What
should I do?
Another phone call from a wildlife friendly friend, OK, I didnt mind
the opossum sneaking a tidbit or two of cat food from the kitchen bowl, but this
morning I found a raccoon growling at me as I entered my kitchen to make my morning
coffee. What should I do?
Enough is enough.
There seems to be a fine, imaginary line between living in harmony with our
wildlife neighbors and stepping over that line. Personally I dont want
wildlife in my house. Thats my space. I wouldnt go into their den and I
dont want them in mine. As well, I am not going to threaten them at the
woodpile or the feeder, so dont threaten me at my back door or deck. This
seems like a pretty good rule of thumb boundary for me, but lines are not always so
easily established or defended. How does one communicate to a raccoon, opossum,
mouse or rat, Hey, youve stepped over the invisible line!?
If weve invited the natural world to share our landscape, (or theyve
invited us) we dont want to resort to killing them when we feel they or we
have stepped over the line. At the same time we cant endanger our own
well-being. That is just using plain old common sense. If our backyard is suddenly
boasting a nest of coral snakes, that may not be good for our well-being. If an
opossum is barring us from the coffee pot, that may not be good for our well-being.
And if a raccoon has become territorial claiming our deck as his domain, that may
not be good for our well-being. A general rule for life is: everything in
moderation, which may seem extreme to some people in certain circumstances
when the left or right of the mid ground is radical. Just as with any garden, for
example; deciding whether a plant is a noxious weed or a desirable native plant,
were going to have to make some serious decisions and come up with long-term
Simple solutions include: Never, ever leave dog or cat food bowls outside. These
are open invitations. Lock down the doggie or kitty door at night. Secure lids on
garbage cans and create barriers. Keep bird feeders a reasonable distance from
front and back doors. It may be necessary to humanely trap an unwanted guest and
have it properly relocated and released into a more suitable location. Who wants a
hungry bear at the back door? Dont leave rotting fruit on the ground. Keep
the salt lick a good distance from your living quarters. Squirrels, rats, mice,
deer, opossums, raccoons, etc, have fleas and ticks and may carry other undesirable
diseases. Wildlife is enjoyable and rewarding to observe at safe distances, but as
with everything in life, exercise balance, harmony and moderation ... back to
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.