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Showing posts from 2012

Do Ground Squirrels Hibernate?

Ground Squirrel Control Never Takes a Holiday   Rocky, the Ground Squirrel Hunter, working in the Burrow Blocker office. Did you notice that ground squirrels are still busy destroying crops, landscaping, and causing other costly problems?  At Burrow Blocker, we have been inundated with calls and emails from people struggling to eradicate the ground squirrels on their property. It's December already! Don't these devouring, diggers ever sleep?   Someone needs to let the California Ground Squirrels know that the nature books and websites say that they hibernate for several months of the year. Some ground squirrels, like the Piute, in Idaho and Wyoming, hibernate for around 8 months. Actually, they often go from summer estivation, straight to hibernation. Why can't it be like that here? On second thought, I've talked to people in Idaho with ground squirrel problems. For only being awake 4 months a year, they create an overwhelming amount of trouble and destructi

Scary Squirrels

Do you have nightmares from spending too much of your time and thoughts dealing your ground squirrel problems? In honor of Halloween, the next time you hear the chirping of a squirrel in the distance, here's a little something to haunt you even more. Surprise! Squirrels aren't the gentle little vegans we like to think they are. Actually, most of this blog's readers don't think of them as gentle because they have witnessed how destructive ground squirrels have been to their crops, landscaping and irrigation hoses. Some of us have also heard that they are known to spread the bubonic plague, but we never imagined them eating... MEAT! Yes - Meat! At first, I heard of squirrels eating worms, which really didn't bother me that much. Then I heard about them munching on mice. That might make the feral cats at my ranch mad, but they'll get over it. Hearing about them eating lizards was a little troublesome, but they pushed me over the edge when I heard about the

Prevent Falls this Fall

   What do you think of my friends? Gizmo, Charlie, Hannah and Godiva, graze and guard our pasture. Chances are, if something is happening at the ranch, they are in the middle of it. They play with their big red ball, chase the sheep, and they are very vocal when we they think they aren't getting enough attention. Those little donkeys get away with a lot because they are so darn cute!   Ground squirrel holes can literally be a pain or much worse for equines. When we choose to have animals in our lives, it is our great responsibility to make sure they are healthy and safe. That includes regular vet visits, worming, checking their fencing and preventing injuries. The last thing we want is for one of our horses or little donkeys to get hurt.   Fall is officially here! Out here in Northern California, the fall colors are not as brilliant as they are east of us. Actually, where we live, if the area isn't irrigated, it's pretty much just dry golden hills. Without

The Coyote - Nature's Ground Squirrel Control

           Coyotes - whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit they are excellent ground squirrel control. Small mammals such as, ground squirrels and rabbits, make up most of the coyote's dinner menu.They will also go after livestock and eat carrion. The livestock part is what makes coyotes the enemy of many ranchers.   When lambs or llamas are being born at our ranch, coyotes seem appear from out of nowhere. Our llamas are usually the first to spot the coyote. They sound the alarm at the ranch with their "Xena Warrior Princess" yells. Our three Great Pyrenees will reply in loud barks and race to find the coyote. The llamas will often already be running toward the coyote with the miniature donkeys, not far behind. The sheep will get the message and run into their pen. We humans, will try to keep up with all of the action and may spot a llama chasing the coyote to the fence or the dogs chasing it in the hills. As long as no one gets hurt,

Keeping Horses Safe

  These 3 Amigos are the inspiration behind the Burrow Blocker.   Horses are magnificent and powerful creatures! Our horses are part of our family. We play, snuggle, and help each other when needed. Just like with my kids, my job is to love, care for and protect them. That means making sure the area they love to run and frolic in, is free from dangerous ground squirrels holes.   At Burrow Blocker, I've received many calls from people who share their lives with horses. They all have the same love and fear. They love to watch their beautiful horse break into a run and they cringe with fear at the same time because they are afraid that their horse will be severely injured from stepping into a ground squirrel hole.    We know that fear. That's why John designed the patent-pending Burrow Blocker, ground squirrel control machine. Fortunately for us and our horses, we now relax and enjoy the gorgeous late summer sunsets without worry as the 3 Amigos play in the pastu

Controlling Ground Squirrels in Lakeport County

This summer, I got to know Peter Breen. He is concerned about the environment and actually does something about it. Along with his lovely wife, Ione, and his son, Leon Ingebrigtsen, he runs Lakeport Farms. They grow organic walnuts and grapes in Lakeport County, California. Peter is a highly intelligent, high energy guy that always makes me smile.   When Peter called inquiring about the Burrow Blocker, I felt like he was selling me on the concept behind the workings of the machine. He loved the idea of controlling the ground squirrels through habitat modification. It wasn't long before John and Mike were on their way up to Lakeport to deliver a Burrow Blocker to Peter, Ione and Leon.      Peter & Ione Breen, Mike Tikalsky, and Leon Ingebrigtsen at Lakeport Farms - August 1, 2012. Better than having me try to explain Peter's experience with ground squirrels and the Burrow Blocker, read it in his own words:  "We have nine acres of walnuts and some 100 grap

Is it a Ground Squirrel or a Gopher?

Do you know the difference between a Gr ound Squirrel and a Gopher ? If you are battling burrowing rodents on your property, after awhile you might just start channeling Carl Spackler, Bill Murray's character in the movie, Caddyshack. Remember when Sandy McFiddish, the head groundskeeper of the golf course told Carl, in his rich Scottish accent, "Carl, I want you to kill all the golfers on the golf course."? Carl replied, " Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key." Sandy yelled, " Not golfers, you great fool! Gophers, rodents! THE LITTLE BROWN, FURRY THINGS!" Carl replied, "We can do that. We don't even need a reason." Remember that destructive dancing gopher in Caddyshack? (Be has a long intro.)     Most of the people that visit this blog, do have a reason. They want those destructive diggers to just stop destroying

Got Ground Squirrels?

I've got him cornered! Now what? If you are relying on Rocky for your ground squirrel control,  you'd better call Burrow Blocker !

Orchards Don't Like Ground Squirrels

Squirrels love trees! Even ground squirrels love them! Instead of scurrying about the branches, the little diggers do what they do best - chew and dig. They dig at the base of trees and eat the roots, bark and the fruit or nuts the tree produces.   Since rodents live to chew, even irrigation equipment is in danger. Sometimes when they feel the coolness of the irrigation hose, they'll bite right into it to get a blast of water. Chances are if you are a farmer, you have seen the bite marks on irrigation hoses and have been forced to make costly repairs.   Orchards would be fine if ground squirrels only ate a few pieces of fruit. The problem is when there is an over-population of them and they do what they do in massive quantities. Hundreds of ground squirrels chewing and digging in an orchard means massive destruction.  Did you know that crews have refused to harvest crops because of the overabundance of dangerous ground squirrel holes? In one walnut orchard, the owner w

Ground Squirrel Hunters

When someone mentions hunting, usually ground squirrels aren't the first thing that comes to mind. Surprisingly, there are people that regularly hunt ground squirrels and then line up all of their dead little bodies for photos. I'll let you search online for that yourself, because I am currently erasing those pictures from my memory. Do you know who really loves to hunt for ground squirrels? Dogs. Cats probably do too, they just don't like to show their excitement; they like to play it cool. Here's a photo of Jake with his prize catch. He was so thrilled that he brought the ground squirrel into the barn to show off. I didn't want to see if the critter would be Jake's afternoon snack, so we picked it up and set it on the truck bumper and went to get a shovel. Ground squirrels are full of surprises! That little guy was playing possum! He jumped off the bumper and ran away! Jake's favorite hunting buddy was Orwood, our ranch cat. Orwood l

Ground Squirrel Control Remedies Can Make You Nutty

Are ground squirrels making you a little nutty? What crazy methods have you tried to control them? Before we created the Burrow Blocker, our ranch was over run by ground squirrels. We were so desperate for solutions that we tried almost everything to get their population under control. Since we didn't want to risk poisoning our dogs, cats or other wildlife with pesticides, we tended to get pretty creative. Here are a few crazy things that we've tried: Wrigley's Gum - I'm not sure why it had to be Wrigley's gum but we heard it worked, so we tried it. First we put the sticks of gum in the holes and a few weeks later, when the ground squirrels were as plentiful as ever, we thought maybe we should have chewed it first. We had lots of holes and lots of gum and our jaws got tired pretty quickly. All we ended up with was fresh breath and gum stuck to our shoes...and still too many ground squirrels. Water - The next idea was to just flush them out with water.

What's in that Hole?

Admit it. Holes can be mysterious. Even Alice found the rabbit hole intriguing. Maybe it's because we know that there is more than meets the eye. It may not be Wonderland, but ground squirrel burrows can be 6 feet deep and 35 feet long. They have multiple entrances and can have nursery, food and sleep chambers. A kit fox's home often has a key hole shaped entrance and it's common to see flies buzzing about the opening of an active ground hog burrow. So how do you know what's in that hole? Unless you are some nature TV host getting paid the big bucks, it's not such a good idea to just stick your hand in the hole to reach for whatever is inside. Start by getting a comfy lawnchair, a cool drink and sitting back and relaxing awhile. Just watch to see who goes in and out of the hole. Pay close attention. That snake you see gliding into the hole is probably just looking for lunch and chances are it's not his permanent address. Even if you see snake skin

Maintenance is Key

Imagine calling a meeting at your property. It's just you and the ground squirrels that have been tearing up your land and eating your plants. You offer them a few seeds and nuts as you talk to them about how their holes are a safety hazard and explain how much their damage is costing you. After you are done reasoning with them and recommend where they can go to get rid of the fleas so they lessen the chances of carrying bubonic plague, you say your goodbyes. The ground squirrels then grab a few things from their burrows and scurry off your land to a far away place. Now wake up! :) If you have land that provides food, water and nice ground for shelter, ground squirrels are going to want to live there. Coyotes, hawks and eagles will help control their populations, but often there are too few predators and too many ground squirrels. The Burrow Blocker machine modifies their habitat by eliminating their burrow. The ground squirrels that are trapped underground are absor

Is Your Pasture Safe?

Is the grass starting to come up in your area? We finally got some rain and now our animals have something to eat in the pasture. Every morning, our horses, miniature donkeys, llamas and sheep all wait anxiously to run, play and graze. With the high hay prices, it's essential to have a safe and healthy pasture for grazing. Before the grass gets too high, it's a good time to do a safety check. If you have horses, be sure to be on the look out for Yellow Starthistle. It doesn't take much for it to take over a field and it is very poisonous to horses. Starthistle causes nigropallidal encephalomalacia, also known as chewing disease. Only horses are known to be affected by this fatal nervous disorder, so make sure your pasture is free of Yellow Starthistle. For more information visit UC Davis' IPM site: While you are out there checking on what's starting to grow in your pasture, be sure to watch out for groun

Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine's Day!

What About Gophers, Voles & Moles?

Last week, John and Trisha went to the Eco-Farm Conference in Pacific Grove. They came back with lots of useful information and some gopher traps. “The Farm Pest Animal Control Without Poisons” presentation by Thomas Wittman, from Gophers Limited, was a crash course on moles, voles and gophers and how to deal with them in an effectively green way. Check out for excellent videos on controlling moles, voles and gophers. Since the Burrow Blocker is designed for ground squirrel control, John is always on the lookout for a way to deal with gophers, moles and voles. When John got back from the conference, he went out at the ranch with his grandsons, and set a few cinch traps from Gophers Limited. In less than an hour, they had caught a gopher. Another way to deal with too many rodents, is to encourage natural predators to take care of them. Did you know that an owl family can eat more than 1,000 rodents per year? That’s a lot of gophers, voles and mice. Since

Burrow Blocker Demo - Fast & Fun

Here is our second attempt at a Burrow Blocker demo video. Can you see that I discovered a fun video app on my phone? The Game Your Video app lets you add "flavor" to your video. I'm not sure how Mike feels about me adding a little Charlie Chaplin flavor to his demo. It's a silly little video that still shows how simple and entertaining filling ground squirrel holes can be.

Our First Try at a Demo Video

After much anticipation...our first video demo of the Burrow Blocker is here! Professional videos may film for 6 hours to get less than 6 minutes of footage. I'm happy to say that I was able to create it on my phone in much less time. What did you think of all of our helpers? We have quite the pack at the ranch, but only Summer, Haley and Daisy made the cut. :) Did you hear the donkeys hee-hawing in the background and the plane flying overhead? I like to think all of the extra stuff added some character. 

Ground Squirrels Are More Than Annoying

Remember hearing about the Bubonic Plague in history class? Well, those destructive ground squirrels that create hazardous holes and cause millions of dollars in damage per year, have also been known to carry and spread the bubonic plague. Wild rodents, such as mice and ground squirrels transmit plague, through the bite of infected fleas. Be aware when you pick up even a dead ground squirrel. If an infected flea bites you, you could end up with enlarged lymph glands near the bite area and quickly get a fever or chills. Get treatment right away, or it could possibly infect your blood and lungs. In July 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that a ground squirrel captured in the Los Alamos Campground in the Angeles National Forest, tested positive for plague. The campground was closed for 10 days by Los Angeles County Public Health and U.S. Forest Service officials and squirrel burrows in the area were dusted for fleas. According to the Vertebrate Pest Control Handbook – Mammals

Little Ground Squirrels Can Dig Some Pretty Big Holes

It used to be that when you drove through the gates of our ranch, it looked like we were raising ground squirrels. In fact, one day when my boys were preschool age, my oldest yelled, "Mom! Look at all of those ground squirrels! We need help! We need to call the Power Rangers!” Unfortunately the Power Rangers were not available, so we were forced to try other methods to rid the ranch of the ground squirrels. Next time, I’ll share some of the unique ways we tried to reclaim our ranch from those destructive little critters. No matter what we tried, we were still left with the holes. As you can see from the photo, we not only had to worry about our horses getting injured from stepping into a ground squirrel hole, some holes were so big, we could have lost one of my kids. We used to play a game, who could find the biggest hole. My boys even had the goats join in the fun. My dad and brother, who were continuing to battle the ground squirrels, didn’t find our game as amusing