Our son Techie and his wife rented a house with a huge yard in Western Washington and proposed to grow their own food by the “sweat of their brow.” But bamboo shoots, infiltrating from a neighbor’s yard, covered every part of their garden area that blackberry bushes hadn’t claimed. The lawn mower balked at cutting a blackberry patch surrounded by a bamboo jungle, so Techie bought a machete and spent weekends commando-whacking bamboo. The bamboo rose to the occasion, digging in and sending up replacement shoots ready for the next weekend’s attack. Just like the Taliban, they knew they could outwait Techie.
Our daughter-in-law proposed a pet goat to solve the problem. City ordinance allowed a pet goat. The neighbors approved a pet goat. The landlady did not.
Techie went online and found that anything can be rented—even goats. He signed a three-week contract for three goats—hoping the landlady would not show up during that time. On a Saturday morning, a truck drove up, unloaded three goats, and sped away. Two goats bounded for the blackberry bushes and started chomping. The smallest goat refused to eat, but Techie thought it would cooperate once it got used to its new surroundings. The hungry goats drew the line at eating bamboo shoots over six inches high although they were quite willing to devour new shoots in the areas Techie had clear cut.
Three days later the blackberry bushes were disappearing, but the bamboo remained—and a dead goat lay on the front lawn. The non-eating goat had obviously not gotten used to its new surroundings. Techie called the agency and was told he owed them for the goat.
Techie gave up the idea of a half-acre garden plot and built grow boxes. Unfortunately, moles found a way to penetrate the impenetrable boxes and carrots, beets, and other root vegetables stealthily disappeared before harvest time.
Techie’s dad recommends putting carbide in the mole holes and dropping a match inside. I suggest they simply declare victory and leave the field to the locals. Signing up for a weekly delivery of vegetables from a local truck farmer has got to be cheaper and safer than renting goats and blowing up moles.