Please Meet Obama
April 30, 2012
This is a picture of Obama. Yes, Obama is a squirrel. He has been living in the neighborhood for the past four years or so. Overall, he has been a welcome addition, giving a focal point of passing interest.
Before I go on, let me address the question some of you must have. I did not name Obama after our president because of his color. Although, Obama and President Obama are both mostly black, as it turns out, I did not name the squirrel after the president because of their outward appearance, rather I named the squirrel Obama because of other similarities with our president. The first reason was his never-ending attempts to cause ruin to my economic opportunities - much like our president. The second reason was that both the squirrel Obama and President Obama have an affinity for acorns. Obama spends hours hunting for them and then tearing up my ginseng beds to plant them. If he could talk, I'm sure he would tell me some dubious story about how it was for the good of the nation and how I should not mind doing my fair share to help out.
So, let's get back to Obama and his activities. As I mentioned, he has taken a passion for stashing acorns in my SELECT ginseng beds. I wouldn't really mind so much, but in doing so, Obama destroys the newly emerged ginseng plants.
As you can see in this picture, Obama has dug into the bed of newly emerging ginseng seedlings to plant his acorns. In doing so, he has dug up or otherwise killed a number of small ginseng plants. This happens across the beds at the rate of three or four holes each day. Not only is that many oak seedlings to pull up when they emerge, but Obama is making a complete mess of the ginseng beds.
Now, if Obama were not such a local celebrity, I would take drastic measures and put an end to his acorn stashing days. However, I really don't want to go there. Therefore, I am in the process of devising ways to convince Obama that my ginseng beds are a place he doesn't want to be under any circumstances.
Queue theme music from the 1980 Caddyshack movie now.
Of all the tools available, an electric fence seems to be the most harmless and the most effective. The most likely way to convince Obama he doesn't want to be in my beds.
In my first attempt, I installed the strands of the electric fence around the three open sides of the beds. I put them low to the edges where Obama will likely climb up onto the beds. I've supported the shade cloth on wire between 2x4 supports. I put the negative (cold) wires on the outside and the positive (hot) wires inside. I did it this way for a couple reasons. First, electric fences are primarily suited for hoofed animals that make very good contact with the ground. A ground stake is connected to the negative side and driven into the ground. Then, only hot wires are run on the fence. This way, whenever the animal touches the hot wire of the fence, he is already in contact with the ground and thereby completes the circuit -delivering the shock. Obama does not have hoofs, so I ran both hot and cold wires to make a completed circuit. In fact, even in the woods when dealing with deer, I always run both hot and cold wires on the fence to provide immediate completion of the circuit if the animals contact the fence.
You can see the second reason in this picture. By placing the negative wires outside, Obama (or any other creature that is so inclined to get into my beds), will not realize he is in a trap until he makes contact with the hot wires inside. He needs to make contact with both wires at the same time to receive a shock. However, if he hits the hot wire first, and makes a so-so connection through the ground, he might only realize he should not touch the wires rather than to stay away from the beds all together. Additionally, by protecting the hot wires on the inside, it will help with accidental contact by me and the shade cloth in a breeze.
Additionally, I've staggered the wires vertically to provide a less imposing obstacle. I am afraid that if Obama sees the wires as an obstacle, he will simply hop over them all together. As you can see in the picture, they are positioned to allow him to climb up onto the edge of the bed but he will brush his back against the outside wire as he does so. Then, as soon as he makes contact with the inside hot wire, his behavior should at that very moment become sufficiently modified as to be acceptable.
But, as I got home earlier, I watched Obama carelessly crawling out from under the shade cloth. He wasn't in a hurry, and appeared to not have experienced any sort of trauma or channel changing event. Upon inspection, I found several fresh holes in the beds.
I have a sarsaparilla plant growing on one side of the ginseng beds. Therefore, I extended the shade over that area also. However, doing so leaves the end of the bed open and provides a wide area for Obama to hop over the wires. This must have been how he got in without being zapped.
In considering my next move, I realize that Obama cannot be given the opportunity to hop over the wires. I must do something to keep him from doing so, and convince him to crawl under -through the wires- to gain access to the inside of the beds. Chicken wire comes to mind and it might work. However, chicken wire doesn't provide as much a visual barrier as seems appropriate, and it's easy for Obama to climb over chicken wire. Therefore, (and since it is readily available to me currently) I will staple up some black plastic as a barrier above the wires.
So, off to dig out some plastic sheeting and get it up before work. Stay tuned folks.~Brad
May 5, 2015
I think I've finally convinced Obama to stay out of my ginseng beds. Let me catch you all up on what has been going on.
When I went out and got ready to staple up some black plastic, I realized that I could in fact do the same thing with the shade cloth. So, I rearranged the shade around the open end of the beds to keep Obama from jumping over the wires. Unfortunately, it didn't stop him from digging up my beds.
As I puzzled about what to do next, I realized that while he went around the beds generally, he did most of his digging in one corner. So I decided to run wires horizontally over the bed in that corner. By running alternating hot and cold wires diagonally across the corner between the fence wires on the perimeter, I would make it very difficult for Obama to dig in that corner without coming into solid contact with at least one hot and one cold wire making a solid circuit.
The wires are a little hard to see in the picture, but notice they are only a couple inches off the surface. By just twisting additional wires onto the perimeter wires it energized the horizontals and puts them in the right spot. I've also reseeded the dug up areas (which will be a subject of another article) so the amount of damage isn't visible in the pictures.
It has been a couple days now without any further damage from Obama the squirrel. I hope he has learned the lesson to stay away from the ginseng beds. As you can see in the picture, some of the larger transplanted roots are in the corner where the horizontal wires are, and if I don't remove those wires soon, the ginseng plants will grow tall enough to short the fence possibly damaging the plants.
I hope Obama (*cough* the squirrel) sticks around. But, I'll be even happier if I can take down the electric fence charger in another week or so without worrying about the damage Obama will cause.~Brad