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This is how I keep voles and mice will fed down on the farm.

      The feeders I  use are made from 5 gallon spring water bottles. I cut
them in half along the seam making two small greenhouse like structures.
When I see vole activity I place one of these small greenhouses over the
hole. Also under this small greenhouse I put poison bar baits on 6 inch
diameter plastic plates along with a few green pellets of "Remik". The voles
will hoard the remik and this is one way I tell if rodent activity has
stopped. The Bar baits I use are called "Just one Bite".

I have cut bait use to 25 percent of what I was using. The bar baits are too
large for the voles to move to an underground storage area as I am sure  was
happening with the smaller baits. Mary Chastain posted a few weeks ago that
she had found vole hoarding sites around her garden. Alex Summers has also
told me that voles hoard food. Ralph Keene has also mentioned that he has
seen 30 pellets disappear in minutes from his feeders and actually has seen
the voles in action.

Moisture damage to these bar baits is eliminated with the small greenhouses.
I am using 10 feeding stations at the present time with no present vole
activity . (that is, as of 10 am this morning!)
I find that the voles feed for less than a week when a feeder is placed over
a vole run. Monitoring is as easy as walking by and looking at the baits
through the clear bottles. When I find a new vole run or hole I move one of
my existing feeders to the new location. Some of my bar baits are 4 months
old and if you don't count a few nibbles, they look as good as new. Even
irrigation this summer did not wet any of the
baits. Mold caused by moisture was a major problem with my other feeders
which resulted in a short live span for my bar baits.

To monitor activity at the feeding station I push soil or small amounts of
mulch over the vole hole. The voles will move small debris from their hole
and this reveals their activity. Vole activity stops in less than a week. I
leave the feeders in place until they are needed somewhere else.

The shape of the five gallon water bottle cut in half  is such that they
are not moved even by high wind. I search my garden for new vole holes every
weekend and move my feeders accordingly. I get many re-uses out of the bar
baits. Pets also seem to ignore these feeders.

I get these five gallon water bottles for free. To get them free you will
need to find a bottled water supplier and ask for any bottles with pin hole
leaks. These bottles have a limited life span for the water companies and
are discarded at first leak. New bottles are 7 dollars in my area and
leakers are free. I could get hundreds of leakers. Leaks make no difference
when these bottles are cut in half and used as feeders.

It may interest you to know that it's S.O.P. for pest control operators to
use feeding stations to control rats and mice. An interesting or not
interesting note: voles seem to mark their trail like mice, using feces and
urine. I find vole feces on my plastic plates and on the ground under my
feeding station covers. I delight in keeping them well

I cut the bottles in half with an electric saber saw. It's easy if you cut
along the seam. I have even noticed moisture seeming to condense more on the
active feeder covers.

I believe I have meadow voles. I live in the middle of a 40 acre farm and
have vole runs everywhere in the fields. They love no till farming. Voles
are also a problem in New England apple orchards. By coincidence I grow my
hostas under Crabapple trees.

As you read this post voles may very well be having a feast in your hosta

Planting the seeds of paranoia,
Dan Nelson
Bridgeville DE
zone 7

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