For the longest time I raised food for my family. Then for a growing community that wanted high quality, seasonal foods. Through the whole time I have also fed many a small mammal, insect and broader community that calls the farm ii's home. I welcome the birds and bugs. I love the bees and bumbles...But, when they make a nuisance and take more than their share, bringing friends and family to the feast, I have the choice of acquiescing or becoming the predator.
I think a healthy ecosystem keeps pests in balance. Our farm has all the habitat needed to encourage broad diversity. When the grasshoppers emerged and began their consumption of foods, the sparrows recognized the easy meal and kept the population at a tolerable level. The brachonid wasps have been helping with the hornworms. A praying mantis ducked under a squash leaf as I walked the rows the other day. An ecosystem encouraging balance.
Good fences and other methods help discourage meal seekers. Deer, turkeys and small mammals can do a lot of eating. This season has been average for animal pressure until the drought started to limit animal food choices. With a relatively green, growing garden close at hand more and more hungry mammals began to invade. A raccoon or opossum was eating the tomatoes. A woodchuck dug a new den in the potato rows. And, a rabbit left its manure pellets under the squash leaves.
So I reluctantly become the predator. I live trap the animals. Trying to minimize suffering and killing quickly. I've found that placing the un-baited trap in animal pathways is the quickest way to catch mammals. In some cases the pathway has been so frequented that many different species are trapped over a short period of time.
It appears that it was a lone woodchuck, and a solitary rabbit. The tomatoes continue to be chomped, but I'm tolerating that at the moment. A good rain has the farm greening up and I hope providing foods for the animals that resorted to the garden for dinner.