The Birds

The thing I always seem to forget about autumn is the pigeons. I forget they become ravenous for leaves in autumn. Just when it looks like your winter crop is successfully underway down they drop like oversized conkers from the sky and razor all in sight. They seem particularly keen on the kale, they like chard, at a push they’ll eat sorrel, small seedlings of any description go down well, but at the moment they are steering clear of chicories. It happens every year and we never really know how to deal with them. It’s an aesthetic thing really. We don’t like nets, we don’t like the feeling of enclosure. On Saturday, Nancy and I cut a mini forest of twigs and stuck them into the soil hoping they would hold off the pigeons attentions for a while. I don’t feel that hopeful and suspect we will have to buy some more netting, unless anyone has any better ideas?

15 10 2012

Howard Sooley

 

5 thoughts on “The Birds

  1. Thanks so much for continuing your blog over here! I would have missed your musings from your plot and the gorgeous photos – they are a regular part of my week.

  2. Sorry to say but netting tends to trap smaller creatures and unless you are at the allotment every day your blackbirds, etc will suffer a slow death. When pigeons look exceptionally fat and healthy either the birds of prey or the humans needn’t fret about eating a few, need they? Old-fashioned, no nonsense gardeners kept their rifle where it could be reached easily & had no qualms about taking them for supper.

    My one reservation is their diets. In the city they get stuffed full of the cheapest, probably GM peanuts sold to tourists, in the country they guzzle so-called ‘dressed’ seed, which poisons them and is terrible in the food chain. No wonder they crave your proper biodynamic greenery….we all do….

  3. Useful to know, sparclear. In the garden I work, we have a no-kill policy (slugs and snails excluded but I leave them alone, as it happens). Gophers, my big problem – think moles on methamphetamines. They will _plunder_ the root crops and just love coming up underneath a bed of radicchios and chowing the taproots right up to the bottom of the leaf rosette. They hit sorrels hard, too.

    We have lots of these critters around the land (hardly surprising, given that I’ve been feeding them a spectacular diet for some time now) and they take a very great toll on the crops. I might kill-trap them, myself, but gardening in community requires compromise, and the no-kill policy is fixed in stone. Animal rescue is one of our things. For the time being then, my murderous hands are tied, even as I find myself surprisingly low stress around the stricture – sometimes, meeting limits is a liberating experience – no tossing and turning about taking life, for example. I also generally find myself more accepting of Truth, than I was.

    Of the morals of priorities in the garden, I checked in with the Buddhist/Hindu/Jain notion of ahisma – kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals. Wikipedia says “ahimsa recognizes self-defense when necessary, as a sign of a strong spirit”. A local Yoga teacher, gardener and friend said of that, “Regarding ahimsa: There are multiple interpretations; the one you’ve given being the most practical for those who have to deal with worldly realities. The underlying spirit is the protection of life, our first priority being to protect the life of those we are responsible for. Including responsible for feeding.” I wonder if my stress level and our ethics would prove situational should the industrial food chain hit a hiccup. The sticklers for no-kill tend to supermarket-shop more than the deep gardening ‘contingent’. Opinions, anyone?

    I have attempted burning incense in the gopher runs – really smelly Indian stuff – but get the impression all it encouraged was rodent kirtan. I suspect I need some pepper/mustard concoction. Anybody got any experience using no-kill technes for gopher/mole control?

    • Philosophy shared & much appreciated, Nick

      at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/30/fox-pest-ask-alys?INTCMP=SRCH
      you can read how Alys Fowler manages foxes harmlessly in the UK

      The idea is to mark the land with dung/urine from whatever animal your “pests” fear.
      (Would pigeons take any notice, I wonder?)
      Wolf/dog clan hunts mole very efficiently, given the chance. Unsure about gopher …. hygiene will give the community further debate re: carnivore’s fresh dung in a garden full of bare hands and edible crops.

      This takes us back, people get desperate and resort to poisons and traps. We had that discussion about stuff like warfarin creating rat carcasses that cannot be safely buried. I’d rather beckon in the birds of prey any time, the owls over here are always attracted to rough, semi-open grassland and they will be highly active at certain times of year, killing hundreds of rodents each.

  4. I’ve read that black cotton criss-crossed between twigs or small canes, above the height of the tasty leaves is a good deterrent to pigeons, as they need somewhere to park while they nibble, and the cotton doesn’t give them the stable surface they need.

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