Monday, August 22, 2011

Mr. McGregor's Fence: EPIC FAIL

In a previous blog post I posted in detail the arduous task of installing a small electric fence around my garden. I really bought into the marketing for Mr. McGregor's Fence Kits. Unfortunately, it appears to have been a huge waste of my time & money. I thought it was making a difference at first, but that was before my tomatoes started to come on. I guess carrots, beans, & swiss chard aren't desirable to groundhogs, at least those have been left untouched by the wildlife. It's confusing that tomatoes suit the groundhog's palette considering that they tend to take one bite of the largest, nearly ripe tomato before moving on to something else :( 

Don't get me wrong, the electric fence technically works... it does seem to charge up properly in the sun & give out a static charge. The manufacturer claimed this small jolt, which they compared to static electricity generated by shuffling along your carpet, would be enough to deter pests. It wouldn't harm or kill them, but stun them & make them afraid to try to go into your garden again. Maybe I have a hogzilla & that's why I still see destruction everyday when I check my garden.

The fence kit consists of several components. You first install a pretty thin & flimsy chicken wire around the perimeter of your garden, then string up the electric wires outside of it about 6". They claimed that groundhogs are wary critters & will explore the fence before trying to go over it. So they'll get zapped & go away. If they can get over the barrier, they'll come into contact with the electric wires more & go away. The chicken wire fence probably isn't much of a deterrent. From what I've seen, these varmints are pretty strong & can push in small fences fairly easily. But the electric fence in conjunction with the chicken wire was supposed to be able to stop them. My fence is installed properly, the solar battery gets plenty of sun & charges fine, & I keep weeds & debris clear of the electric wires. So in theory, it should work. But it doesn't. If it did, I would've canned a dozen quarts of tomatoes by now instead of only getting THREE tomatoes!!! He's a greedy SOB :(

I feel somewhat silly thinking this would be the end-all pest deterrent. When I went to Home Depot to buy a trap, I was told the only way to get rid of a groundhog was to shoot it. Well, I can't exactly be on guard all day long, not that I would ever shoot an animal for getting into my garden anyway. And my father-in-law chuckled when he saw my fence... he didn't say anything probably because he didn't want me to feel like a fool, but I kinda took the laughter as a sarcastic, "yeah, good luck with that."

I'm not an urban homesteader who needs to survive off of what I grow, or a farmer who needs to earn a living at the market. I'm just a girl who likes to make salsa. So I can't really justify killing an animal who's just trying to survive. We tried a trap last year with the intention of releasing animals a few miles away from our home, but they only set off the trap, they never got caught. Garlic/egg repellants didn't work either. In fact, I bought a jug of super concentrated smelly stuff last year, placed saturated cotton balls in small plastic bottles with holes around the garden, & the next day found that the groundhog had ripped 2 of the bottles off the posts & had bitten into them! So he seemed to be attracted to the smell rather than repelled.

I'm not sure what's left to try... This Motion-Activated Water Sprayer looks interesting. The video is hilarious, although I wonder if those are actual wild animals or not (I'm pretty cynical at this point). The main downside to this device for me would be the tremendous waste of water that it would use. My neighbors might hate me too since our houses are pretty close together, I imagine they may get sprayed. We have hundreds of squirrels hopping about, so I would think the sprayer would be on constantly. I do love how it sounds a bit like a machine gun when it runs though. With more searching, I'm sure I could find other motion activators, maybe something that just makes a noise that wouldn't be loud enough that my neighbors would despise me.

If anyone has had luck with any type of deterrents, other than an 8' fence, please let me know!
Solar electric fence





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