You see, two weekends ago I was desperately trying to get the corn planted between rain storms. I had one day to prep the beds and then I could plant quickly on Sunday before more rain came (oh by the way…lest you think I complain too much about the weather, I just heard on the radio today that it has been our second wettest spring in 100 years…yes, 100 years).
That was the plan- however, the rain didn’t cooperate and it poured buckets on Sunday, so the corn didn’t get planted until Tuesday.
But I digress…back to the pitchfork. Do you remember the no-till gardening method I love and usually use to keep down weeds and preserve the natural soil layers and microbes (and my back…)? Well, when I pulled back the black plastic (which did a great job killing the weeds), I found lots of surface tunnels from the voles that use our garden as their playground. They obviously thought the plastic was dirt.
If you saw our video about thwarting the voles, you might be wondering what happened. Here’s the deal: we could only line the 4′x12′x10″ high raised beds. We also have four large (9′x20′) beds that are edged with 4″x 4″ wood mainly so we can have permanent paths around them- they aren’t really raised beds. These are the beds I grow the big stuff in: corn, potatoes, pole and dry beans.
Anyway, I felt I needed to disrupt their tunnels in an attempt to discourage their use, so I started the back-breaking job of using a garden fork to break up the soil. It really took a long time to get through a bed, so I asked my son to help with one of the other beds. And bless him, he came right out, though I’m sure there were a million other things he’d rather be doing. Love that kid.
Since I was using our garden fork to finish the first bed, I set him to work with the small pitchfork we have. But he was turning over too much soil (big blocks that would be hard to break through…), so I walked over to show him how to just break up the soil.
Me: “You don’t have to work that hard, just put the fork in like this, and gently move it back and forth to move the dirt…”
Him: “What’s that sound?”
Me, as I’m moving the fork back and forth: “What sound?”
Him: “It sounded like a mouse dying!”
Me: “Sheesh- it’s probably just the squeaky handle- listen.” I dutifully move it back and forth and it squeaks a bit.
I pull the fork out of the dirt to move it to a new spot, and we both hear the sound again, look down and find…
You guessed it- a vole (aka, field mouse) speared straight though one of the middle tines!
I threw the handle down and jumped away (isn’t that silly- like it’s gonna come after me?). I might’ve made a sound – though I’m sure it wasn’t a scream – and then I looked again, thinking it had to be dead. I mean, it was pierced straight through. But no, it was squirming there on the tine. Ugh.
So I went to get Brian. Sorry, I just needed reinforcements and my son was completely grossed out. Brian came out and put the little guy out of his misery, but not before he said,
“You sure you don’t wanna take a picture of this for your blog?”
Well, you can breath a sigh of relief that it’s my blog and not his- I’m just showing you a picture of the cleaned off pitchfork.
I know you all have good imaginations.
And when it came time to finish that bed, I may or may not have jumped and yelled when a dirt clod bounded onto the gravel path…or when a little frog found his way to the top of the soil (unhurt and moved to a safer place, thank goodness!).
I’ll leave that up to your imaginations, too.
And with that, I’m happily moving on to the part of the party where you share your gardens!