Biting off what you know you can chew

possum1Good gardening practice is so much about biting off no more than you can chew. No matter how grand a garden you may want, it’s pointless digging up swathes of ground when you simply won’t have time to attend to it. In fact, the more your garden is kept to a manageable proportion (however small that may be) the more productive it is bound to be.

This week, I acknowledged the same is true of pest eradication, something that goes hand in hand with gardening, especially in my neck of the woods. Year after year I kiss goodbye to any hope of roses, apples, or pears because, no matter how good my intentions are when it comes to setting my three Timm’s possum traps, I just never get around to doing it consistently. It takes just one cold, wet winter’s night to make me think: ‘Br-r-r, I can’t face going out in my pyjamas in the rain to set the trap.” Even on a summer’s night it can be a struggle, once I’ve forgotten the trap and gone to bed, to get up and set it. And then there’s the early morning wake-up call to go out and release the traps before some innocent birds meets a nasty end while pecking at the apple-bait. The upshot is that no matter how many Timm’s traps I have, they tend to lie around the garden, unset, while the possums help themselves to whatever they want to eat, including, in winter, the carrots, which they feast on by jumping up and down on the net that covers them and gnawing through it!

I have a similarly dismal record when it comes to setting rat traps with the result that, in autumn, my walnuts are gnawed through and gobbled before I even get a chance to collect them off the ground. Stored potatoes (which are obviously not a favourite where rats are concerned) are, however, inevitably snacked on by rodents towards the end of winter when all the other goodies are gone. You’d think losing the last of my winter stores to vermin would be enough to make me take action but, no, I still don’t get around to setting the traps each night.

But all this ineptitude is about to change because I’ve at last admitted to myself that I’ll only succeed with pest eradication by biting off no more than I can chew, and accepting the financial costs of this. Thus, this week, from Pied Piper http://www.ratcontrol.co.nz/bait-stations-nz I bought two bait stations to deal with the rats. The stations are specially constructed so that it’s impossible for the rats to cart off the bait which means I will be required to refill the stations only once every few weeks – something I’m confident I can manage. To deal with the possums, I gritted my teeth and parted out around $180 for a Goodnature self-re-setting, non-toxic bait, humane, instant-kill trap http://www.goodnature.co.nz . All going according to plan, I’ll be required to attend to it about once every three months. That sounds like my kind of trap!

I really regret not having made these wise pest-eradication choices years ago. If I’d been more honest with myself sooner, my garden would be in better shape and so would my local birdlife. Still, I won’t beat myself up too much about it. After all, I’ve now bitten off exactly what I know I can chew and, all going well, my possums and rats will soon be doing the same thing!

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