The War on Slugs

slugFarmers are supposed to be tough and unflinching when it comes to dealing with critters of all shapes and sizes.

What about textures? I’m talking, of course, about slugs.

Formally known as mollusks, these slimy creatures can do a lot of damage to a garden. It used to be that farmers would burn fields and till them under more frequently, but now that they don’t, slugs are more of a problem. Some folks use poison bait to kill them, although apparently slugs can quickly develop an aversion to it. And then there’s always pesticides, but who wants toxic sprays on their farm? Not us.

So what to do about the slugs? As the weather warms–and spring is in full swing here–they are starting to emerge from their crevices, like slow-moving slug zombies.

The first time I saw one here, I was going for a run down the road. There, in the middle of my path, crawled a large slug. Being of Buddhist mindset, I gave it a nudge with my shoe to get it over to the side of the road.

It stuck to my shoe. My empathy ended.

Once I realized the slugs were after our rhubarb, I declared all-out war. But I still wanted to leave the dispatching of the slugs to Matt, even though it struck me as a totally gender-divided task and totally unfair.

“Sherry keeps a small hatchet handy, and that’s how she deals with them,” he told me one day after talking to a friend on the island. Shortly after that conversation, a small hatchet of my very own appeared on the chair of our back porch, where it stared at me every morning as I walked outside.

I couldn’t use it.

So I read about other ways to dispose of slugs, and discovered they love beer. What a way to go! So I got a milk carton, sacrificed one of Matt’s beers for the task and soon began collecting slugs who, I liked to tell myself, happily drowned. Death by beer.

Due to the warm weather, and probably the horse-poop compost I blanketed it with last fall, the rhubarb has really started taking off. This has brought the slugs out in full force.

How much beer does one give over to slugs before one resorts to other methods? I found out.

I was out of beer and apparently out of patience the other morning as I loaded up the hay cart to throw hay for the horses. And that’s when I saw it: a fat, ugly slug, sliming his way toward the rhubarb garden. My implement of death, as I liked to call the hatchet, was still on the porch, many yards away.

What to do? The horses, Neela especially with her giant pregnant belly, were stamping impatiently for their breakfast. If I walked away from the slug to go grab a container to put it in I’d no doubt have trouble finding it again, as those slimy cigar-like critters seem to have excellent camo skills.

And it was then, as I glanced around the shed barn for something to put the slug in, that my eyes lighted upon the pitchfork.

So as for the fate of that slug headed for the rhubarb…well, let’s just say he won’t have the guts to do that again.

2 thoughts on “The War on Slugs

  1. Good Job! Ah, the joys of living in such verdant green environs!
    The Pacific Northwest is famous for our giant “Banana” Slugs! Down here in Eugene, Oregon, we even have a “Slug Fest” that boasts a “Slug Queen” every year!

    I like to use a shovel. You can put it right up on the slug and a quick push down, and it’s dead and somewhat buried (if it’s on loose garden dirt). I don’t even have to look after gently placing the edge of the shovel next to it’s green slimy body! But I can be a bit squeamish about such things, LOL.

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