Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Deterring Critters

After my last post about mice stashing olives under the hood of the truck, I got an email from a friend saying that when he had problems with squirrels in his attic, he soaked a few rags with Pine-Sol and stashed them around the edges up there. No more squirrel problem. That reminded me: last summer, while camping in bear country, our campground host would come around each evening with a spray bottle of Pine-Sol to wet down the doors of our bear boxes (all food and fragrant cosmetics have to be kept in a bear box - a big strong metal box, on legs cemented down, with a tricky latch bears can't reach - bears have been known to bend a car door down or go right through tent canvas to reach anything that even smells like food: vanilla air fresheners, old to-go cups, mints tins, cinnamon-flavored dental floss). Anyway, the Pine-Sol treatment works. Even though we had bears around camp just about every night, they stayed away from anything that had been sprayed. (Another bear tip: I camp in a tent. At night, I take my car's electronic opener into my tent with me, and use the alarm button to make the horn honk and the lights flash if a bear comes sniffing 'round my tent. My sister still takes a big spoon and a pan to beat on to bed with her.)

Our winters are too cold to worry about fleas, I've never had cockroaches, and it's too dry for ticks. We did have a couple of cracks in the concrete floor that termites got through. We sealed those with silicone and haven't seen any more. Outside, the guineas love termites - they'll come running if I'm moving wood piles around. The guineas are probably why I don't have too many garden pests to worry about either (plus letting the chickens free-range after the garden is harvested, burying my fencing wire down and out in an "L", and keeping poultry feed in pest-proof containers). About the only other pest that can be bothersome are ants.

To keep ants out of my kitchen, I've got a few unopened packs of Wrigleys Spearmint gum unobtrusively placed at the back of my counters, and Bounce dryer sheets underneath the cracker and cereal boxes. The dog's dish is a no-ant one with feet that really works. Boris will eat the cat's food if he can reach it, so Albert's food dish is in a greenhouse window, lined with carpet, that extends outside the exterior wall. Albert jumps up there from the back of a chair, and loves to lie there, windows on three sides. To keep outside ants from getting to the catfood dish, I've sprinkled talc baby powder under the carpet and pushed it into the cracks around the edges. Ants won't cross talcum powder.

Ants won't cross a chalk line either. Down in the cellar, we have a french drain in the middle of the floor. Ants can come up through that, but I can stop them from getting to my stored vegetables. In late summer, I clean out the cellar, washing down the racks, storage containers, floor, and walls. I then get a box of chalk sticks at the back-to-school sale and draw fresh lines around the french drain, under the door and along the walls, and around the legs of the racks (I also make sure none of the racks touch the walls). Last year, while I was sitting down there with my chalk, I thought if I made it look like an ant mass murderer had been there they'd be sure to stay away. Voila! CSI:Cellar


MaryLu said...

LOL!! They are sure to stay far, far away from there!
I wish I had known the chalk trick when we lived in an old house in Kansas. Oh, we had 'em bad!

Anonymous said...

Sadge, you are an amazing woman and your blog is full of useful information - I am continually coming back to see how you store/process veggies and such. Today my question is about the french drain. We need to build something similar in our basement and am wondering how to put it together. Is is a hole filled with stones/gravel?