Preparing for Porcupine

By , June 24, 2011

The porcupine population is on the rise, they say, and we’re getting ready. For years, pretty much every summer since the one time we saw a porcupine on the property, back in 2008, we’ve been lax, We’ve let the fence go to concentrate on raising the garden. Now, Michelle is stringing extra fencing along the gaps in the bottom of the fence and checking to make sure the tops are floppy. I’m carving pegs from yellow cedar to drive into the ground, pinning the fence down.

The basic anti-porcupine strategy calls for wire fencing that hangs loose at the top and flops outward. The weight of a porcupine attempting to climb this should pull it backward, dumping porky on his head. At the bottom of the fence, attaching a “drape” of wire that lays out along the ground should keep them from squeezing under.

In addition to the garden, we’re checking the fencing around the cherry trees and Mom’s lilac. That should keep our plants safe. We run additional risks all over the homestead, due to the porcupine’s urge to chew, especially wooden handles that have sweat salt on them, but also plywood, rubber, and a long list of unlikely materials.

The final step of preparation involves armaments. I’ve pulled out an old ax handle section that serves as a club, and I’ve cleaned, oiled, and loaded my .22 Marlin and set it near the front door. Chasing porcupines off repeatedly doesn’t work nearly as well as killing them outright. And, we’ve learned, they’re pretty good eating.

I get a lot of ribbing from friends about this, but I don’t care. Porky meat isn’t exceptional game by any means, but with proper preparation, they’re quite tasty. Harvesting a few protein meals while ensuring the health of the garden makes too much sense to pass up. And if my friends don’t like the idea of eating porcupine, they don’t have to come to dinner on those nights!

We’re not expecting a big onslaught of spiny invaders. If they’re working their way over from the bay, there are plenty of gardens there to keep them occupied. Nevertheless, we’ll be ready (hopefully) if and when they do come, to give them a “proper” reception.

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