- The deer and elk, but mostly elk, seem to be drawn to the stakes, it may just be a new game for them or a new smell/sensation for them to investigate by chewing.
- Once they have a good grip on the tip of the bamboo it is easy to pull it out of the ground.
- Since the bamboo is woven through the fabric of the cage, pulling out the bamboo also pulls the protective cage off the tender seedling leaving the baby tree exposed to the creatures.
- Our attempts at noise and movement several times of the day does nothing to deter the critters from moving into the area between our laps or during the night.
In the previous post, Chewing On Bamboo Part 1, you got to hear about the disturbances caused by deer and elk (mostly elk) and the subsequent fun we have been having trying to protect our precious seedlings with their cages and bamboo stakes.
Up til now, Mike has been the more aggressive harassment master. He has made it his mission to make life for the elk in our woods as uncomfortable as possible. With several trips a day up the hill and into the forest, he whistles, sing-songs limericks and bad jokes, revs the motor of the Gator, and he hollers barks, whooots, and catcalls at our 4-legged creatures. The dogs consider the many runs up and down the hill with Mike as a treat and they scoot through the woods with the vigor that they had as young pups. The dogs are trying to assist but mostly it is just a fun activity for them. Continue reading
We have been going up the hill and into the woods several times a week to check how the trees are doing. New growth is showing with the warm spring weather, this new growth is a delicacy to woodland creatures.
Some of the cages look like they are run over, they bend the seedling and the bamboo sticks are flattened but the tree is intact, this could have happened as an elk herd bounded across the open areas without taking heed of the seedlings. Others have the cages pulled off, that is where the elk and deer have begun browsing on the tender plants and some seedlings have been pulled right out of the ground or nibbled down to the ground.
The damage is minimal right now and our presence in the forest is only slowing some inevitable browsing to the seedlings since the nighttime is when the critters come in for a good meal. Short of sleeping in the middle of the planted areas to keep an eye on the forest, we are hoping that the cages keep the destruction to a minimum.
As I wrote the headline for this story, I had to stop and chide myself. What would make one day any different for a wild animal? Isn’t everyday a play day of sorts? They have no snarled commutes, do not have to punch a time clock, they don’t have infernal beeping of notices and alarms and if they don’t care for the boss they simply leave without paperwork or exit interviews.
Yet on this day, with a little layer of snow on the ground, I watched the herd come scrambling out of the deep forest in a most joyful way. Some were running, others loped along while still others ambled. The runners worked up the others in the herd and soon the activity thrummed like the school playground at recess. Willy/nilly, to and fro, the helter/skelter hum of activity riled up the herd as they pranced through the snow in the open clearing.
A long-time woodland owner and successful cedar tree grower told us his secret to keeping tender cedar seedlings from becoming dinner for the wildlife. He said that setting up the site ahead of time with the mesh cages in place give the elk time to snoop around the area and have fun playing with the cages. With the elk used to seeing empty cages, it is less likely that they will mess with them after they are protecting the new seedlings that are due to arrive for planting next month. Continue reading
The open fields have been very tempting for the large group and they are not roaming far between their foraging grounds,
During the season, the elk had disappeared deep into the forest and only came out into the clearings once or twice. Now they can be seen all times of the day, from early morning to late evening. One night they ran into my fence and shorted out the electric wire by tangling it up with a non-electric woven fence. Luckily the cows were not in a hurry to leave their green pasture for a walk with the elk herd. We were able to get the fence back easily.
While making pretty pieces of 16 inch wood for the bundles there are many odd sized pieces that come out of the labor. Our wood fired furnace can burn any sized wood up to 3 feet long, but all those small, irregular pieces are a hassle to keep loading into the big furnace.
Rather than chunking them in with the large pieces, we load them into the pickup when heading into town and drop them off at my brother’s place. He uses the small, misshaped pieces for his shop stove. The small pieces are easy to light and are a good size since his stove can only take up to 17 inch pieces. Usually a small fire is all that is needed to keep the shop comfortable while he works on projects.
It is a win, win,win. We get rid of the ugly wood, and he gets enough warmth to be comfortable in his shop, and he converts our elk meat into delicious smoked breakfast sausage, pepperoni and chubs of summer sausage. I really think I am getting the best part of this deal…