• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

permie challenge: mice/moles/voles and 60 acres

 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a permaculture riddle ive been messing with. its a little more academic than proacticle, but a fun gum to chew.

I have a 60 ac open space with some half beat soil and grasses, blackberries, etc.  in the soil is a plethora of feild mice. the raptors in the area love it, but dont control the epidemic. I asked sepp holzer if he might have a way to use the mice as a functional element. they tractor, shred, aerate, create water drains and textures in soils, etc, as well as controlling weed seed. problem is that they will eat just about anything that you have a mind to plant, or tear its roots up. we know exceptions to this and can create some buffers, but my real question is: to what purpose and with what method cold one 'herd' feild mice/voles. Sepp replied that they make great rototillers- up to 4 feet deep. I said wow. He said that its possible because pigs will dig that far o eat thier nests. so, pig fodder as fuel source for pig tractoring is already covered. other ideas?

best

deston
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
from experience I can tell you that they make great catfood
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
curious question! with the mice all I can think of is how to control their population to make sure you get some of the good stuff without it getting out of control. I would rehome  a few black rat snakes onto the property. moles I like. the holes can be annoying but productive in the enviroment.
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, moles are a slight nuisance, but they are mainly carnivores, eating earthworms, grubs, beetles, etc.

I read somewhere several years ago that a farmer installed some telephone poles in the open areas of his property, with crosspieces of the size comfortable for larger birds of prey.  The birds found it a nice place to perch and watch for rodents, and he did notice a reduction in vermin.

Also, try contacting your local feral cat rescue operation.  Feral cats are difficult to rehome because they're not friendly.  Many rescue operations do a trap/neuter/release program.  Their life spans are not extremely long, but it could be a solution to your problem.

If interested, you could talk to Jo at Feline Friends http://www.feline-friends.net (Olympia, WA)
or
Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon at http://www.feralcats.com/

Sue

 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hmm...I'm not sure how to put the little critters to use in any sort of ordered program.

I don't imagine the moles are much of a problem. The mice might be a problem for annuals if they're really hungry. It seems to me the biggest problem would be with voles. Voles burrow around in the thatch layer in grass or in loose mulchy areas (they love sheet mulches). Their love to nibble off the cambium of fruit trees and girdle them. This can be a pretty serious problem and makes sheet mulching around fruit trees risky.

At this point the best way to deal with them that we've found is to use vole guards. We buy 1/2" hardware cloth and put a loose 8" collar around the trunk of all our recently planted trees (especially if we plan to sheet mulch the area afterward). You have to be very careful to keep an eye on things when you do this, though. As the trees grow the vole guards will need to be removed or replaced with larger ones so they don't girdle the tree themselves.

I like Leah's idea of incorporating snakes into the scene. I would contact some of the local herpetology enthusiasts and find out which native snakes like to munch small rodents. Then see if you can a) create/improve habitat for those snakes, b) release more of those snakes, & c) make sure you avoid practices that eliminate snakes (e.g. burrowing snakes are often killed by deep tilling).

I focus in on snakes instead of cats because the cats are kind of a mixed blessing. They eat birds as well as snakes and can spread distemper to the local population of raccoons. However, that being said, good ones will munch voles like candy.

I wonder if you could somehow use the mice to spread seeds? Do mice eat any seeds whole (without chewing them)? If so you could use them to distribute seeds in their feces. Perhaps hard seeds would stand the best chance of surviving the trip through their digestive system. A couple species to consider would be lupine and black locust, although I'd do more research on mice first.

Dave
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
back to the ferel cat..we adopted a ferel cat and have one of her kittens..we had got them their shots..and it is sure true that the critters are cat candy..they love em..my girl will sit for  hours staring at the ground..touching it with her foot and sniffing..cause she knows there is a treat in store for her.

yes, they wll take birds..but you can take some precautions..we put flashing around the poles of our birdfeeders so that they can't climb them..and make sure that  the bird houses are protected..they would rather catch a mouse than climb a tree after a bird..they do tend to be lazy that way..mice are under their feet..

my sister lost nearly every woody plant in her yard to mice this past winter..so they are a problem ..our snow got so deep they could climb up and over the guards and get the cambium layer of bark ABOVE the snow line..not good..i didn't lose any trees completely but did have a lot of pruning to do this year from damaged peaches.
 
                                    
Posts: 12
Location: California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
UC Davis paper on Owls used for rodent control:

    http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/+symposium/proceedings/1995/95-95.pdf
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you play the recorder or the flute?   I googled the pied piper and wasted half an hour of garden time surfing the sites that came up.

Mice love to nest under our stored bales of oat hay.   Several pallets with bales of some type of grain hay on top, covered by a tarp if you don't want it to get wet, should lure the mice wherever you want them.   Can't think of a vole attractant, are they omnivorous?   Moles seem to follow the watering pattern, so wherever you want them must be kept damp.    Do moles hunt by smell or sound?   Or do they just blunder into food like me at a smorgasbord?   Birds tap on the ground imitating rain, bringing certain worms to the surface right?   Or am I remembering a wives tale from my childhood?   
Would worm sounds attract moles?    Would a tea from worm compost attract moles?   More questions than answers here!

http://brooklynwormgirl.blogspot.com/2004/06/worm-sounds.html
http://aminima.net/wp/?p=478&language=en
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19864
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Before suggesting other things, I want to first re-iterate:  PIGS!

The REAL problem you have is a deficiency of pigs! 

Okay, onto other stuff ...

I think that the first solution is going to be a rich diversity of EVERYTHING!  With lots of shrubs and trees you will be providing lots of predator habitat.  And I wonder about what your little furry friends like so much now - I wonder if there is far more diversity, if they might not be so pleased, and there would then be less of them. 

I like the idea for rat snakes, although about five years ago I explored bringing in a hundred extra garter snakes for the same reason.  I never did do it. 

Plus, maybe the real question to ask is:  what is the precise problem?  Is more than 10% of your crop being lost?  What crop?  What did it? 

Maybe another idea is to put out stuff that will work as predator habitat (I'm thinking for snakes).  Or even something for the raptors to perch on. 


 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard of rodents being used to harvest wild rice.  started out as finding their stockpiles and raiding them.  the modern version involves building little caches for them to remove the searching step.  that might be adaptable.  voles, though... hamster wheel dynamo?  extrapolating from my experience, putting your very favorite young fruit tree in front of the wheel might keep the critters running and generating.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19864
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel wrote:
I've heard of rodents being used to harvest wild rice.  started out as finding their stockpiles and raiding them.  the modern version involves building little caches for them to remove the searching step. 


This sounds really cool.  Do you have a link?



 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
sure don't have a link.  might have read it in Mollison's PDM.
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've heard of that with the wild rice, too.  I think they anchored hollowed-out tubes (like bamboo), and the mice deposit it there.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel wrote:
  extrapolating from my experience, putting your very favorite young fruit tree in front of the wheel might keep the critters running and generating.



there you have it. the perfect solution. they are little energy generators. a small portion of your crops dedicated to them and they can provide enough electricity to power the farm. ha ha ha ha
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19864
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel wrote:
sure don't have a link.  might have read it in Mollison's PDM.


How might we find some articles or pictures of this?  I'm not even sure what I might want to google for.

My mind buzzes with the ideas of how useful this would be.

 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
tel wrote:
I've heard of rodents being used to harvest wild rice.  started out as finding their stockpiles and raiding them.  the modern version involves building little caches for them to remove the searching step.  that might be adaptable.  voles, though... hamster wheel dynamo?  extrapolating from my experience, putting your very favorite young fruit tree in front of the wheel might keep the critters running and generating.


Hey Tel!

I've heard about similar techniques being used for squirrels that steal walnuts. I think they put some sort of cache (like a disguised 5 gallon bucket) in a tree with a hinged door on the bottom. You let the squirrels fill it up and do your harvesting for you. Problem = solution.

Unfortunately, I have been completely able to find any reference or diagram to such a system on the web. It would be awesome if someone built some prototypes and tried it out.

Dave
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Red squirrels and ground squirrels are usually the only types that stash nuts in a 'container' like a hollow tree.  Grey and fox squirrels usually just bury them in the ground, all over.

I want to say that Aldo Leopold was the one who mentioned using mice to harvest wild rice, but I'm not sure.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to do both of these?

Sue
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hey Dave,

the squirrels round here generally leave the walnuts, but they're quite fond of those American chestnuts I keep on about.  they're most certainly grey squirrels, though.  might try to disguise some buckets anyhow.
 
                            
Posts: 20
Location: Pittsburgh PA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mollison referred to pack rats being good harvesters of wild rice in his "Aquaculture" lecture from Perth (Dec 1985, 4hrs 13Mins). He mentions this specific case at about the 29-minute marker in track 1.

"...trouble with a diesel engine. We looked at the manifold and it was full of clean wild rice seeds at ideal ripeness. And there musta been about a hundred pounds of wild rice stuck in the engine manifold. And we found a pack rat sittin out in front of it." ... "There's your harvesting system: just put up manifolds in the field [laughs]... and uh, he just keeps harvestin... only sound seed, only ripe seed, and he husks it and puts it away..."

It's hard to find seeders for this lecture on bittorrent, but to purchase:
http://www.permacultureplants.net/Audio/aquaculture.htm

Holzer has mentioned that moles and voles are useful in soil structuring, insect control, and plant propagation. There is a short diagram by him attached to this post as a GIF.
holzer - important workers diagram.gif
[Thumbnail for holzer - important workers diagram.gif]
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul and Toby Hemenway discuss animal control/balancing ecosystems/gophers, moles, n voles in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/359-podcast-050-toby-hemenway-animal-problems-to-solutions/
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
On my little acre and a quarter the voles are a MAJOR problem.  Cats didn't work.  We have had some hawks take up residence from time to time but none hang around permanently.

Snakes - we used to have snakes when we first moved here about 7 years ago but they have moved on.  We didn't have voles then!  I don't really know what happened to cause the snakes to leave.  We used to have at least one large black snake living in a pile of magnolia leaves next to a fence and another that would hang out near a compost bin.

I would like to get the snakes back - we are surrounded by woods/wild areas so I know they are around - they are just  not coming here for dinner.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
my reply was already given, they make great catfood..and entertainment

my cats bring me 4 or 5 a day..so get yourself some great cats !!
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
33
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda, how many acres do your cats cover?  In your experience, do you think they will reduce the population enough in 60 acres?  How many cats would you keep for that much land?
 
Logan Streondj
Posts: 46
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Amed Mesa wrote:Brenda, how many acres do your cats cover?  In your experience, do you think they will reduce the population enough in 60 acres?  How many cats would you keep for that much land?


Yes, what you do, is get (tabby) American Shorthair, or close hybrid, they are considered the best mousers,
if it is very wet or humid where you are, also get some Turkish Van as they are waterproof.
Get several (2-3) males and females of different stock, make sure they have burrows/nests to reproduce,
their population will naturally fluctuate based on the rodent population.
That is assuming that you don't feed them,
and instead let them live on wild-food.

It is best to get parent-cats that are already avid-mousers, otherwise may have to feed the initial parents,
since some indoor domestic cats have never had practice with anything larger than a fly or spider,
Though the kittens of those which aren't will most likely "play" with mice and naturally become mousers.

For a healthy all-round diet, cats also eat birds, baby rabbits and other small animals.
They will also keep out raccoons and other medium sized animals from their territory.
Cats are also great at catching insects, such as cockroaches and ants,
so can keep inside of the house, food-storage, and places clean.
 
P Thickens
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chickens are pretty good at eating mice and rodents. Positively gleeful about it. The babies and juveniles go down whole!

If I were you, I'd get portable fencing, a tractor+coop, a crapload of layers and a market for the incredibly delicious and nutritious eggs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iubf1oJdQQQ
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From Animal Planet

Dogs of the terrier group have in common the proclivity to kill rodents and vermin, often by digging or going to ground after them. The word terrier, in fact, refers to earth, or terra.


If you know anyone with a terrier, maybe you should dog sit for a week. Not sure if it'll be worth the digging damage.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This year's experiment: Castor Bean.

My voles, I might as well take ownership of them, have a very diverse diet. They eat all the potatoes, all of the horseradish, most of the carrots, but so far they let me have the radishes, turnips, mustard, onions and garlic. We'll see if they share the strawberries this year and if they are going to let me keep the old rose that I rescued.

We have the semi-feral cats (2), we have 200 acres behind us that supplies various raptors that occasionally nest in the yard, trapping would be like going out to a wheat field and harvesting it one grain at a time. And it's not just the various food beds - now the remaining yard (about an acre) looks like cluster bombs were dropped on it.

So..... this year I'll try Castor Beans. I used to grow them as a decorative plant before I ever heard about permaculture and I didn't bother keeping up with the seed when I switched to growing food crops. I didn't have voles then either. Is there a connection? I don't know but I ordered seed and today started a few in pots and will direct seed some more. We'll see what happens.
 
Jason Matthew
Posts: 66
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have not seen it mentioned yet, but why do you not begin building rock and/or wood piles in sunny locations and start attracting snakes? It might not be a fast remedy, but you should be able to clear an area for a garden.

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jason, we've done that - and used to have snakes. But I can't make them come here. Other than going out and catching them to release on the property -- and that is not out of the question either.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic