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All around the homestead

Critter control
Photo courtesy of extension.org

There is a section in Living the Country Life magazine called “All Around the Homestead” where we print tips and tricks from our readers to make life easier in the country.

Everybody has to deal with unwanted critters from time-to-time, especially when it’s chilly outside. Rodents like to come inside the barn where it’s warm. You can set traps, but mice often get away with the bait. A reader in Indiana says to keep them from escaping, he drills two tiny holes in kernels of corn. The holes are threaded with very small flexible wire and fastened to the trap. Pests can’t remove the bait so they trip the traps and get caught.

Mice and rats also love to get into animal feed bags. A reader in Virginia recommends rubbing a bit of peppermint essential oils around the perimeter of the sack. Rodents apparently don’t prefer mint because they steer clear of the smell.

It’s easy to mix up another scent they apparently don’t like. To keep ground critters like skunks away, a man in West Virginia grinds up equal parts of black peppercorns and whole cloves, and mixes in equal parts of ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper. He puts it in a shaker can, and sprinkles a swath of it every few months.

Another reader in Indiana discovered that varmints aren’t always on the ground -- sometimes they’re in the air. She saw two hawks high in a tree the first day she turned her chickens loose in the yard. Because hawks are afraid of anything moving, she hung aluminum pie pans on baling twine from the trees. The pans glisten and swing with the wind. She hasn’t lost a chicken and hasn’t seen a hawk since.

A reader from Alabama has some high-tech scare tactics to keep raccoons, opossums, and deer away. He bought a wireless driveway alarm and put the receiver in a plastic bag. When an animal walks into the space, the alarm rings and scares it away.

Find more Living the Country Life tips for rodent control

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