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gophers

 
Paige Wyatt
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I just discovered hugelkultur this past week and am EXTREMLEY excited! My question is gophers. I haven't seen very much mention of what to do about gophers. We have a really bad problem with it on our 5 acre piece of earth. I'm hoping to add more ferrel kitties in the future as the two I have around my yurt have at least eradicated the tail slapping rats that used to live her....uhg! I really don't like living with rats! Yuk! Do I still need to put aviary wire under the mounds? I'm imagining that I do but I'm not sure how far to bring it up the sides of the mounds if I do. And would the gophers just climb up the outside of the mound. Hmmmm.....any experience/info would be helpful!

Thanks!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Paige,

First, if you would be so kind, fill out the information completely on your profile page. Our members have a difficult time giving advice without knowing at minimum the basic location you are in. My next request may not sit well with you, and I am sorry for that. Feral cats are the last thing any biome needs within any location on this planet. The damage they do to indigenous animal life is horrible to catastrophic depending on the location. No part of living consciously within your given environment does a feral cat provide (or other feral "hunting carnivores,") nor is it any part of the "permaculture" ethos. If you want to achieve a balance with any population of rodentia or other pest species, then you need to initiate that naturally by reestablishing some form of homeostasis between the "predator and pray" system, and/or controlled use of native predators. I will give more information when you have shared your location.

Regards,

j
 
Miles Flansburg
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Welcome to permies Paige !
Here are a bunch of threads about gophers.

gopher threads
 
Paige Wyatt
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Thank you Miles for the links and Jay thank you as well. I want to comment on the ferel cats. These are rescued ferel cats that have been fixed and need homes. A vet friend does this instead of putting them to sleep. People bring them in and he fixes them for free and then finds homes for them. We like having kitties around because they are sweet and they keep the rat population down which can be quite a nuisance where we live. It seems to me that if the cats already exist, needs homes and do provide some critter control that it isn't against the permie way?
 
Paige Wyatt
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PS. I don't see where to update my profile for where I live etc. The profile page doesn't have much in it besides password and email and a bunch of preferences.
 
R Scott
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OK, that isn't feral anymore--that is more of a "free range" cat. Can't reproduce is a huge step in the right direction, but Jay is right--they can be a huge disruption to the ecosystem and have to be managed as such.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Paige,

If you go to "My Profile," and scan down you will see little plus signs to the right of the page by "General Information about yourself," "Preferences," and "Site Personalization." Please fill out as much of this as you can.

As for your kittys, they need to get there food out of a bowl. I love cats, but mine where "big" 1 Bobcat (wild and free ranging male,) and 1 Serval (domesticated and in house except for game bird and rabbit hunting with me.) If they aren't under you complete control (NO private hunting adventures) then there presence in the environment is unwarranted and wrong. I would go as far as to say this is not subjective, but simple fact. If you have issues with rats, (or gophers) then you need to facilitate some homeostatic with the natural predators around you. Each rat (or other rodent-bird) the cats kill is one less that the Raptors, Snakes, Mustelids or other natural predator does not have to eat to sustain them. CATS DON"T BELONG OUTSIDE WITHOUT BEING WITH OWNER AND CONTROLLED, Sorry.
 
Darin Kirschbaum
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Cats seem to me to be great additions, especially when you need something like rat and gopher control. Maybe making stone piles to attract snakes might be a good alternative.

Jay, I don't see how cats are so much more harmful than dogs, chickens, goats, pigs, cattle, etc. Could you explain a little more? Thanks.
 
Andre Lasle
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Location: Mille Lacs, MN
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Hello Folks-

Excited, as this is my first post since joining 2 hours ago.

I have been very excited about hugelkultur the past week and my past experience with my land is that I will need hardware cloth as a gopher barrier....

What is the experience out there?
My growing area gets riddled with gophers and I'm not yet to the point of "gopher gardening" and accepting them as co-conspirators yet. They are still a nemesis of mine.

Anyone had gophers invade thier hugelkultur? What should I think about while I am still in the planning phase and haven't yet started construction?

Thanks in advance!!!

Andre
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Jay, I don't see how cats are so much more harmful than dogs, chickens, goats, pigs, cattle, etc. Could you explain a little more? Thanks.


Hi Darin,

All the domestic animals you mention, can in short order, do extensive damage to an ecosystem. Pigs, cattle, and goats (in that order) being the worst of the cloven undulates we tend to lose control of. Dogs when let "free range" can do a great deal of damage, by globally "felines" are notorious for decimating bird species, and small rodents, (among other little creatures) and any animal that is not under direct control of their owner is unethical, there really isn't a way around that. I am not a fan of "free Range" unless there is some form of "boundary" control, and even then we must watch for impact. Hope that did better of explaining it.

Regards,


j.
 
Darin Kirschbaum
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Ah well, I guess I get that. But I sure do like cats. A ferrel horde of them is not really what I had in mind though. It seems like 5 acres would be enough land to have a few of them, but maybe I'm a little naive about how much ground they cover and the damage they do.

Paige, I just read through Paul's chicken 2.0 article where he talks about livestock guardian dogs and it brings up another solution to your dilemma. There are a ton of specialized breeds of dogs and I'm sure one has been specially bred to hunt gophers. Or rats. Or whatever you can imagine. It seems like a dog would have a targeted effect with much less collateral damage than cats too.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I agree about the cats being a problem if not under control. Domesticated and feral cats kill and alarming amount of songbirds globally each year. This results in a rise in insects that would otherwise be controlled by the birds. This creates crop losses, due to insect populations exploding without predation.

As far as dogs are concerned, some terriers make good ratters, I believe.
 
Heather Staas
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Location: Western MA, zone 5b
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Because I have sheep, I am always having people trying to convince me to take in a barn cat or three, but I also have ethical concerns about using cats, which are pretty non-discriminatory predators, and setting them loose on the environment. They ALSO kill or chase away, compete with, natural predators that I want to encourage. Although that means finding was to protect my chickens, I'm ok with that. Hawks, owls, snakes, fox, and even toads are all pretty good rodent control and I want to encourage their presence on my property. Cats, especially ones that feed on wild animals, are also more likely to infect my other livestock with toxoplasmosis, fleas, tapeworm... and I have dogs that don't appreciate loose outdoor cats. I love cats; just lost my two old 18 year olds in the past 2 years, and now I have a young male tomcat (trapped him as a feral at my barn actually, and tamed and raised him up indoors) but they are all house cats ONLY. They go outside only on leash/harness with the dogs, or onto the screened porch. *If* you live somewhere with neighbors in walking distance, I also think it's irresponsible to allow your domestic cats to roam onto other's properties, into their gardens, etc.
 
mick mclaughlin
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Andre LaS wrote:Hello Folks-

Excited, as this is my first post since joining 2 hours ago.

I have been very excited about hugelkultur the past week and my past experience with my land is that I will need hardware cloth as a gopher barrier....

What is the experience out there?
My growing area gets riddled with gophers and I'm not yet to the point of "gopher gardening" and accepting them as co-conspirators yet. They are still a nemesis of mine.

Anyone had gophers invade thier hugelkultur? What should I think about while I am still in the planning phase and haven't yet started construction?

Thanks in advance!!!

Andre



Andre, if you do not already have them, I would consider finding some Gopher snakes. They do not call them gopher snakes because they look like gophers! I am not sure where you are in California, but I would think most areas would have them.

Ok, this might not be a "permaculture" answer, but here goes a couple points on cats etc...

1) It's really hard to garden "with" gophers. Moles yes, gophers no. Gophers are vegetarian and will dine on all your veggies. It ain't nuttin' personal, it's just what they do. Not saying you need to nuke them, but they do need control.

2) While I don't know that I feel the same as other posters about cats,they sure as heck don't have to eat out of a bowl, I doubt they will help a lot with gophers. They are very effective on rats, but gophers mainly live subterranean. Yes, they do come up, but they mainly stay down. They are also aware that any number of things want to eat them , so they are very aware when above ground. Thus the snake suggestion.

3)I know lots of folks do not like it, but traps are the absolute best way to control gophers. Set and tended properly they will only kill gophers, and will hurt nothing else. I recommend the McAfee traps.

As with many problems, there is not one answer to this problem. I hate to see folks use poison, other then that, I suggest looking at all your options.

Good luck!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Darin, et al,

I love Cats too! So I am not saying no to them, or even a lot of them...I had 27 at one time in my care (oh my God what a pack!!! thanks to my Aunt) but everyone had a home in the house, Barn, Goat hanty, chicken coop, Garden plot or Duckery... None...not one... simply wandered around to their own whim and fancy. They all where "fixed" and/or under my management. Except for the Bobcat, which is self explanatory. They all did a wonderful job of managing the unwanted rodent, as did the 50 or so "domesticated" snakes we always had laying around. Many of them (the snakes) became so accustom to use that they would follow us around as we would either provide them a warm shoulder to lay on or would uncover a rodent to toss their way. There is nothing like watch 3 or 4 large (4' to 6') Fox, Bull and Black snakes perk up and come over to watch you move straw bales and hopefully get a "treat." for there efforts. They are simply wonderful animals and little understood by so many humans.

As for Terriers, you can not live well without one. I had a Dachshund-Beagle cross, and a Black Fox Terrier-Beagle cross both and they made life a wonder. The black fox "Pudden" would bring me rats, mice, gophers (you name the rodent she caught them) all day long and I would then toss them to a near by snake or one of the many raptors we had that I raised. Not to mention the Ravens that also lived as part of the family. It got to the point where I started raising guinea pigs, norway rats, and rabbits not only for us to eat, but the many other mouths that liked rodent flesh.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Heather Staas wrote:
Although that means finding was to protect my chickens, I'm ok with that.


...I also think it's irresponsible to allow your domestic cats to roam onto other's properties, into their gardens, etc.



Just had a thought about raising a kitten with the chickens, and it would hang out in the fenced coop/pen area, protecting them!


Good point about the garden: It can be frustrating to have a cat scratching up mounds of poop in the carrot seedbed.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Odd you would mention Cats with chickens. We had several that would not lift a paw to a chicken after being raised with them, and even ate chicken feed (go figure that one out about developmental behaviours in animals) and did everything with the birds from sleep with them to grooming them. The chickens got quicker at catching mice than the cats, but when a rat, weasel or raccoon tried a taste of "chicken" they often paid with their lives or a good "cat bite" for their efforts. This happened more than once, and I learned quick that "guard animals" of varying species are more than worth having around.
 
Jeff Ray
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Location: Grass Valley, CA
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Hello. We have a gopher problem here too. A few weeks ago I built a new hugelkultur bed out of tree trunks and gopher wire. The intent is to let the gophers exist but to protect the new raised bed. So basically the way I built it was to use the 17-21" diameter rounds for a perimeter around 2' high. Took the gopher wire bought from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (100' roll x 4' wide) and knitted 3 lengths 33' long together with wire and made a 'bathtub' lining the interior. Stapled that to each log with a fencing staple. Then filled the bottom of the bed with 12" and smaller logs, and filled the gaps with wood chips up to the level of the bigger logs. Then sprinkled a bag of seabird guano on top of that to help negate the nitrogen depletion that would likely happen. Finally spread dirt on top. Last but not least, the gap between the logs is a small triangular shape.....filled those with rocks to stop them from easily climbing to the top, which I'm not sure they would do, but did it anyway. So we have a 30' x 8' x 20" deep bed that is theoretically gopher proof. We shall see if this works!!!
 
Andre Lasle
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Location: Mille Lacs, MN
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Jeff,

Thanks for the input. I have thought about using hardware cloth underneath, just am not looking forward to do it and investing the money. But most likely I will end up doing that.
I am still curious to hear from someone in our area (California) with the horrible gopher problems and if anyone has seen the gophers actually migrate up in to the hugel-beds...

Time will tell.

PS, lucky to be in such close proximity to Peaceful Valley for your supplies....

Best-

Andre
 
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