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Update: No Prints in the Flour! What Critter is Moving the Gravel?

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  • Update: No Prints in the Flour! What Critter is Moving the Gravel?

    There is the weirdest thing going on in my barn and paddock, and I can't figure it out. Hoping wise CoTHers might have some ideas.

    I have one empty stall in my barn. It is the last stall in the barn, right next to a big workshop that has a concrete floor. The barn floor is dirt. The stall floor is dirt. BUT there is a gravel base under the concrete for the workshop. Some critter has dug and dug and dug the gravel out from under the workshop and into the stall. Certainly not a horse as the horses are never in there. Seems like way too much gravel for the cat to have done it. It's a pile about a foot high and about 6-ft. long, and about 1 ft. wide. That's a lot of gravel!

    THEN ... I have gravel under the run-in shed attached to the barn. About 15 ft. from the end of the gravel, there is a small concrete "landing" in front of a mandoor that leads out to the paddock. I drove a T-post into the ground there last summer to prevent the mandoor from swinging too far open (when the wind catches it). Suddenly, it looks like someone came in with a dumpster and dumped a pile of gravel all around that T-post! Very neat, piled up about a foot high, about 3-ft around. Now I KNOW I did not do that. I KNOW that gravel wasn't there last summer or I would not have been able to drive the T-post in.

    What critter on the face of the prairie is moving my gravel around???!!!

    I did see a skunk lurking around. Would a skunk do this? Why on earth would anything be sooo interested in redistributing my gravel???
    Last edited by King's Ransom; May. 27, 2007, 11:00 AM.

  • #2
    A skunk might but what about squirrels? They would redistribute the gravel as they dig their tunnels ... so says a woman who has piles and piles and PILES of dirt from the excavations in her yard.
    Congratulate me! My CANTER cutie is an honor student at Goofball University!


    • #3
      sounds like somebody is busy digging nurseries for their young ..... possums maybe?
      Nevertheless, she persisted.


      • #4
        Muy guess is a woodchuck. They can move an amazing amount of material in a very short time!


        • #5
          Possibly a skunk making a nest for her babies.

          One used the wooden floor under my barn tackroom for her nursery- dug through the limestone screenings and into the dirt. We tried flooding them out, blasting them out w/ a shotgun and allowed the terriers to dig in as far and deep as they could. Bottom line, she birthed her babies there and moved away under the cover of darkness one night a few weeks later.


          • #6
            Originally posted by saje View Post
            Muy guess is a woodchuck. They can move an amazing amount of material in a very short time!
            So how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? <grin>

            Sorry, couldn't resist!!
            Congratulate me! My CANTER cutie is an honor student at Goofball University!


            • #7
              Rats? The ones at my barn have a tunnel network that rivals the viet cong.


              • Original Poster

                SLW- I bet it's the skunk. The part I don't understand is moving the gravel around outside. It's downright eerie.

                Now, what to do about the skunk? Is it dangerous? I mean, besides possibly getting sprayed? It must have come close to the house tonight because I heard my cocker spaniel growling and the next thing I knew, my whole house smelled like skunk!

                Any danger to my horses? What's the best thing to do to get rid of it? All my feed is in rodent-proof containers, so ... what next? I do own a rifle and a shotgun and I even know how to use them. Should I shoot the thing?

                Ahhhh -- the challenges of farm life!

                Isn't this the point where you're supposed to turn to a husband and say, get rid of that thing!? I mean, isn't that what they do? Of course, I don't have one of those handy ...


                • #9
                  Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
                  Isn't this the point where you're supposed to turn to a husband and say, get rid of that thing!? I mean, isn't that what they do? Of course, I don't have one of those handy ...
                  No worries! I'll send you mine!! What's your address? You want him FedExed or overnighted?? I can attest to his rattlesnake-killing abilities and he's picked up the remains of critters caught by the Jack Russells ...

                  And, really! Keep him as loooooooooooooooooooooong as you want!
                  Congratulate me! My CANTER cutie is an honor student at Goofball University!


                  • #10
                    Any danger to my horses?
                    My very curious paint horse came in one morning from night turn out reeking of skunk. It seems he stuck his face down to get a good look of Mr Skunk and got a face full of stink right between the eyes. EWW, for this stunt he earned a tomato juice bath which stained his face pink and some time off because I couldn't stand to be near him for long.
                    Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


                    • #11
                      Oh - it's just a skunk or groundhog or something.

                      If you want them to move, take a rag and soak it in ammonia. Place it at the entrance. The smell will force them out.

                      But... this time of year there are probably babies. You may want to wait until late summer.

                      I don't know about the gravel pile - I'll have to think on it. I have seen groundhog (woodchucks) mound up a right big pile of dirt outside their den.

                      I don't worry too much about critters - just keep your barn clean - secure your grain - clean up spills. It's just part of country life.

                      Personally - I'd rather have a skunk that a raccoon. Raccoons get into everything and they make me crazy.

                      Don't worry about the horses - they have more sense than your dog does....
                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                      -Rudyard Kipling


                      • #12

                        thank you all.. Good Laugh.. about the hubby borrowing and the stinky horse.

                        I'd sugest investing in a hav-a-heart trap. You'll use it many times in the future with other nuisense(sp) animals that will try to make your farm their home.

                        Trap and release MANY MANY miles away. use a tarp over the trap once the skunk is it in... or just call your local wildlife officer once it's in the trap to relocate if you have one in the area... other farmers will probably say shoot it cause moving them takes a good size risk of smelling like one.

                        Good Luck!
                        If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


                        • #13
                          KR - I think you have a marmot. We've had a few (the proximity to the creek attracts them) and they seemed particularly attracted to the gravel by our barn.

                          Our short-term solution was the large stupid dog. He can't catch much, but he's taken care of several marmots here in the past few years. I don't know about your other options; you may have to contact a professional trapper.
                          Incredible Invisible


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TheOrangeOne View Post
                            Rats? The ones at my barn have a tunnel network that rivals the viet cong.
                            Barn rats do that. Over the years, many concrete barn floors start to break up and collapse from those tunnels.

                            Rodent control will keep them at bay, but if you have dogs and cats, you don't want to use poisons, try traps.

                            If it is rats, it is a losing battle, really, but you can make the battle longer, before losing it.


                            • Original Poster

                              Well this is a puzzlement. Skunk? Ground hog? Marmot? Rats? Opossum?

                              None of it sounds good.

                              I will say that I have not SEEN a single mouse, vole, or rat since the barn cat arrived. Maybe they went underground (under the concrete floor?).

                              I had marmots at my house in the city ... but I have not seen any out here. They are very cute to watch, but destructive.

                              When I first moved in, the moles were thick. But they seem to have abated.

                              I have seen opossums running around. I even saw one dead baby -- assumed the cat got it.

                              I figured something was digging under the concrete when all the gravel showed up in the empty stall. Kept thinking I would "get around to" to filling the gravel back in and figuring out what was going on ... didn't seem like that big of a deal. But I have to say that the neat pile of gravel around that T-post totally freaked me out. SOMETHING has moved gravel ... very cleanly ... about 15 feet, across a concrete slab, and piled it up in the corner behind the door. It is freaky. What would DO that?

                              HOWEVER, maybe maybe ... if I look closer ... maybe that gravel was dug out from under the concrete of the workshop? I will take a closer look tomorrow during the daylight. Think I will take Elijah along with me, though, as I am halfway scared of a critter that shows that much determination. What will Elijah do? I don't have a clue. On second thought, better take King. He's the one who saved me from the coyote last year. Bet he would stomp on something that was after us.

                              (By the way, you guys should have seen the old man run off the coyote! We startled him coming in one night from the field and I guess it's "flight or fight" reaction went haywire as it considered "fight" momentarily. As soon as that coyote snarled at us, King stepped right up between him and me and, head down, ran him off. I just looked at the old boy and said out loud, "I am KEEPING this horse!")


                              • #16
                                My guess would be a Woodchuck they can move an amazing amount of dirt.
                                Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


                                • #17
                                  Okay, what the heck is a Marmot and what does it look like?? Never heard of such a critter.

                                  Your horses had a rabies shot, yes??? Other than getting sprayed, rabies is the bigger concern.

                                  Need an outside dog?? Doc had a cute yellow lab cross- looks like a 100% lab- 4 month old pup dumped at his house. He spayed her and she is at the clinic needing a home ASAP. Free to a good home and I bet she would be an awesome threat to skunks.


                                  • #18
                                    heh heh heh

                                    The Blair Witch?

                                    sorry, I couldn't help it
                                    Originally posted by Martha Drum
                                    ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


                                    • #19
                                      Most likely not a skunk, possum or coon...while those three may move into an abandoned den once in a while...none of them are overly fond of living underground. All three dig, but mostly while grocery shopping for grubs, mice, ground rats, roots, etc.
                                      Woodchuck, (also called groundhog or marmot) gopher, prairie dogs, etc all tunnel. Badgers are especially talented diggers of dens and they do mound dirt/gravel because they aren't trying to hide a den entrance. Not much wildlife out there is stupid enough to mess with a badger, LOL! A badger can dig out a den hole and tunnel entrance in less than a day, and the den will be large enough for a small human to curl up in. They're funny to watch dig a den because you can see dirt flying pretty high in the air and at a very fast rate as they dig out a new home.
                                      If it is a badger...better to convince it to relocate itself instead of trying to trap and move it...badgers are not friendly critters. Usually leaving people scented items near the den entrance will make them move soon. Maybe not immediately...the badger may just move it or bury it at first. There aren't many things they're afraid of, but they do get annoyed easily and will move out in a huff if you keep leaving pestering things laying around.
                                      I tried once leaving a small battery powered radio near a badger den I didn't want in the field where I boarded my first horse. Came back the next day and that radio was in about 20 pieces with teeth marks everywhere...some parts were buried and other parts were musked. Peew!
                                      Moles and voles dig very well, even small ones can excavate a large hole and leave a decent sized pile in a short time.
                                      You jump in the saddle,
                                      Hold onto the bridle!
                                      Jump in the line!


                                      • #20
                                        I'm leaning towards woodchuck/groundhog. We had one move in at my old barn and what we saw sounds exactly like what you are describing. Ours was permantly removed by the barn owners dog when she managed to surprise it and corner it in the barn

                                        Either spray the entrance area with amonia or place some amonia soaked rags near the entrance. The don't like the smell and they will usually move and find somewhere more appealing.
                                        "You are under arrest for operating your mouth under the influence of
                                        ignorance!" Officer Beck