The underground war

If there were money in herding voles, I’d be wealthy. Instead, I’m developing a poor attitude toward these little varmints that pull entire gardens into their underground domain and chew them like salad. Eviction notice for voles

My stand of gorgeous red hollyhocks, which grew thick enough to be a summertime landmark for more than 25 years, is down to a single remaining hock. Voles, not gophers or moles, are definitely the culprits. Twice now, a vole has poked its whisker-fringed rat-like head out of a hole in the ground near a hollyhock root, popping back down after glimpsing me with its beady eyes. Then it popped back out, in, out, in as if we were playing Whack-a-Vole.

In fact, my next-door neighbor confessed last week that she did play Whack-a-Vole of a sort with one in her yard. Cayenne didn’t stop it, and garlic didn’t scare it. It turned up its twitchy little nose at Juicy Fruit Gum. Frustrated, my neighbor took a shovel and – oh, yes, she did. When she peeled back the earth, the critter was really most sincerely dead. For all she knows, the whole vole posse will arrive any minute to avenge the crime. More

Off the grid and onto the clothesline

One morning, it hit me like a bolt as I stood in the laundromat, a window-cleaning squeegee in one hand and a spray bottle in the other: Why had I poured years of hard-earned quarters and elbow grease into patronizing dirty places that were supposed to produce clean clothes? There had to be a better way — and there is.

c. tiloligo

c. tiloligo

I can’t own a washer because my home’s drain field is too small and the rock walls make it too difficult to direct gray water to plants without setting up a mess of rain barrels, tubes and pumps. The laundromat seemed to be the only choice – until the Breathing Mobile Washer came into my life. I saw it first on an Alaska wilderness show on cable TV, then found it on websites selling items to people living off the grid. It looks like an oddball toilet plunger, a hard plastic cone on a stick. It paid for itself in a month.

I use my new washer with soap, not laundry detergent. Soap rinses out cleanly. Recipes abound online for laundry soap – basically finely grated Castile bar soap combined with washing soda and borax. As a newbie, I bought it ready-made.

The procedure goes like this: More

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February 2023