Over the Fence Urban Farm

Cooperatively farming small patches of Earth in Columbus, OH


Introducing Our New Vole Patrol(man)

[WARNING: This post contains both supremely cute and kinda icky imagery.  But it’s all real; nothing has been Photochopped folks. Understanding more each day that what it takes to get food to our tables isn’t always pretty, whether we’re talking about industrial pesticides or mousetraps. But I promise we’ll start on a positive note.

Shout outs to Melissa F. for pushing me to write about this here, and to Courtney at Milking Chickens who wrote so openly about her recent encounter with some stillborn goats.]

Meet Thompson. We’re told he’s some kind of terrier/hound mix so we’re counting on him to be our new vole (and rabbit and mole and squirrel and …) patrolman. DSC_0032 He’s four months old, super sweet, and a lot nicer to have around than our previous rodent trapper… DSC_0021 I caught this little rascal and his partner a few days after we learned about integrated pest management at farm school.  I was out looking at the cold frame, checking on some seeds and seedlings I’d set out when I discovered tunnels running through the soil with a few big holes on the sides. I knew immediately that we had a problem and unlike in the past, I wasn’t willing to live with it. It was us against them. I ran to the hardware store, picked up some mousetraps, and set them out with a bit of peanut butter bait. Within 12 hours I’d caught my first furball. I immediately reset the trap and within 2 hours caught another. We haven’t had any problems since then.

I have never killed a mammal before. Caterpillars, ants, beetles, stinkbugs for sure, but nothing with ears, and eyes, and claws. Nothing with body parts that resembled my own. My initial reaction was a combination of nausea and elation. But the more I read about voles, the less guilty I felt.

See, for example, this from Wikipedia:
“[Voles] can have five to 10 litters per year. Gestation lasts for three weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. As a result of this biological exponential growth, vole populations can grow very large within a very short period of time. Since litters average five to 10 young, a single vole can birth a hundred more voles in a year.”

I figure catching these two saved me, and Thompson, from having to catch another 98. I’m sure he’ll find someone else to chase down.