This spring I moved our compost bin into the redesigned vegetable garden. It was an attempt to make the compost where we’d use it rather than having to dig and move it a hundred feet.
And that’s where the law of unintended consequences raised it’s curious head.
We have raccoons – like many of you – and I was happy to let them eat the compost offerings out of the faraway bin if they’d stay out of the garden. It was an uneasy partnership but it worked.
When the compost bins became part of the garden design, the raccoons simply assumed they were included as well and resumed raiding the bin in its new location.
Raccoons and Bird Feeders
That brought them to the bird feeders which are right outside our dining room window and at the edge of the new backyard vegetable garden (about 30-feet away from the newly-moved compost bins.)
In hindsight, bringing the compost bin to the new garden and having the bird seed there as well was a temptation that no raccoon was going to resist.
We began waking up to the three feeders and their poles lying on the garden with all the seed missing and or spread across the raised beds nearby. This destruction wasn’t an acceptable thing to wake up to every morning.
Solution #1 Trapping
I started trapping the raccoons. This isn’t a great solution for either the raccoons or us. The initial problem is we have an inexhaustible supply of raccoons and the second problem is that I dislike killing any animal that’s only trying to keep itself alive.
Relocating Is Not Recommended
Before you suggest relocating the animals, that’s how raccoons got to the island in the first place as somebody thought by bringing the racoons here, that person would eliminate them in their own garden and they didn’t want to kill them.
Relocating any animal isn’t a good idea.
And Then I Remembered
I also remembered we had raccoons at the farm but they didn’t bother the gardens because they were well fed from the compost pile.
Bottom Line: Coexistence?
The bottom line is that I’m moving the compost bins back to their original position. And, as long as the racoons leave the gardens and bird feeders alone, I’ll leave them alone while we share the contents in the newly restored bins.
If nothing else, it was an example of the law of unintended consequences working at full perfection.
We’ll have to see whether a fully fed raccoon will leave the bird feeders alone. But that’s another problem for another day.
Update: Two Weeks Later
Both the raccoons, the birds and the people on our property are celebrating with this new arrangement. The compost system was returned to its original position. I assume the bandits are raiding it over there but we don’t see them because they do it at night (or at dusk/dawn)
The bird feeders are now, once again, the exclusive property of the birds.
Peace reigns in our garden.
Update: Week Three
Well, that didn’t last long (enough.) Looks like I have to get the trap out again. The raccoons didn’t quite get it pulled all the way over but they’re back to the bird feeders.