Sunday, April 13, 2008


I have been engaged in a couple of different types of warfare recently.

First, chemical warfare against what I thought were poison ivy plants.

I try not to look at very many plants as "weeds". As my daughter keeps telling me, in permaculture, NOTHING is a weed.

As I keep telling my daughter, in my eyes? Some plants simply aren't welcome in my little corner of the earth.

Poison ivy is one of those plants.

Poison ivy, among other tricks, does not always appear identically from plant to plant.

This means, bottom line, I spent hours on the internet this weekend comparing a photo from my back yard to various photos on various web sites, trying to discern if what I was so carefully trying to kill/remove was actually poison ivy, or perhaps the vastly less pernicious peppervine.

Turns out, the consensus finally weighed in that the questionable plants I am trying to remove (aside from two confirmed poison ivy specimens)are peppervine. But you have to be careful, yes? Poison ivy is just not anything to play around with.

Then there is my bird feeder. In the past year or so, I have been incessantly annoyed by the intermittent presence of rats perched up on my bird feeder eating the seed. Squirrels can't outwit the counterbalanced weight bar, but rats? They are smarter, and often smaller, and have learned how to hang from the front ridge of the top and/or redistribute their weight other ways so they can munch on all the birdseed they can hold.

My bird feeder is for the birds. Hence, the name. If I wanted to feed rats I would.

So, I have been asking around for advice and got plenty.

"Put vaseline on the pole and rats can't climb it" I was told. Ick! I am NOT going to go out and grease the pole. So I came up with an alternative. WD40 to the pole every other to every 3rd day seemed to be doing the trick. The rats couldn't (or wouldn't ) climb, and my bird seed was in fact, feeding the BIRDS.

"MOM!" my daughter fusses. "Get over it!" "You can't be putting petrochemicals on the bird feeder pole!".

My husband looks at me gravely "The over spray from the WD40 might well kill the surrounding plants" he pronounces.

I know they are right. I ask Mr. Smarty Plants from the Wildflower Center. He has already helped me out once this weekend with the definitive plant identification for my peppervine intruders.

As it turns out - this incarnation of Mr. Smarty Plants is not only a plant identification whiz but an ex-Navy man. In the Navy, they had to put Rat Baffles on the lines securing their ships to keep the rats off. He sent me a link to a Florida Dept. of Agriculture article about keeping rats off of fruit trees.

Hence my latest invention/tweak which I have dubbed "Rat Baffle Number One".It might not be perfect. It might not work at all. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I have found a non-toxic, re-cycled way to (hopefully) discourage the rats from treating my bird feeder like an "all you can eat" way station.

Time will tell if the peppervine will give up its attempts to find an open spot to dominate my garden beds.

Time will tell if I can discourage/kill the poison ivy that keeps trying to reappear in my back yard.

Time will tell if the rats will leave my bird feeder alone and allow the BIRDS to feed there unchallenged.

Time will tell and I will blog. Stay tuned.....

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.