Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Take that, you elk you!

I used to like elk a lot more than I do now. 

I've had no beef with them (so to speak) for 20 winters. They haven't bothered me much (we did have a brief battle over just who had rights to my apple trees, but that's done and over with) and so I leave them alone. I don't hunt them or eat them.

Not anymore. No more Ms. Nice Gal.

This winter for the first time a crowd of cow elk decided to hop over the 5' tall horse panel fencing that surrounds my compound and help themselves to the horse hay. Once they start that kind of a thing, they won't stop if there's any chance of even one more mouthful of the fruits of somebody else's labor. 

The culprits scouting out the crime scene
(photo taken in low light before sunrise, that's why so blurry)
(Oh, and the bent horse fence is from a tree falling on it, not from elk)
I don't have a hay barn. Ever since I got my first horse back in the mid-1970s I've lusted for a big barn with lots of hay storage, a barn I could park a truck in or a flatbed trailer if I wanted to get it out of the rain or snow. A place for horses to get out of extreme weather if they wanted.  Other gals might look longingly at ads for Manolo Blahnik strappy torture heels, but me, I lust for a barn. 

I guess I've been lucky all these years. The elk have never bothered the hay before. Sometimes I'd stack it and leave it without the tarp. I got spoiled, I guess.

Not any more, that's for sure. 

After the first raid on the hay, I became diligent about covering it at night.  But the elk just rooted under the bottom edges of the tarp even though I had liberally bungee corded it down.

Then I leaned wood pallets over the sides of the stack. The elk just knocked the pallets over or pushed them aside, whatever was easiest. In the process, they stomped on the pallets and broke a bunch of slats. The stack was at the end of the horse trailer, under the bull nose. Those blankety-blank elk had no problem walking underneath to get at the hay from that side, too.

The pallet in the lower right was tossed there by the elk.
When the toll on the hay got too high, I decided to get serious. I use the area under the bull nose to store things that I don't want getting wet (no barn for that, right?). I decided to block that space in, to give up on unloading the hay from the pickup (no sacrifice there), and instead to back the truck with the hay into the space between the horse trailer and the big utility truck that I've been meaning to get rid of for some time but never have since it's full of junk stuff I need to go through before rehoming.

Which I did. Back the truck up, I mean - certainly not go through the boxes and boxes in the truck. Why rush it? The boxes have been in there for 20 years, they can wait a little longer. So the next step was to block off access to the back of the pickup, to the underneath of the bull nose, and, well, to everywhere I could think of that an elk could sneak through.

It took me half a day to get it all set up, but last night the elk were unable to get into the hay. YAY! It's a trial for me to get to the hay, too, but oh well. 

The pickup backed in and blocked in.
Installment being inspected by Joe.

Pallets around the bull nose, tarp inside to discourage elk from reaching over

Entry to the fortress, blocked off at night of course.
Yes, yes, I know it's a hokey job. But it's temporary, okay? Any day now I'll get a barn.