No I'm not talking about having my blood sucked by mosquitos and itching for an hour afterwards. I'm talking about economic losses on a dramatic scale.
This week, I lost six high quality, organic watermelons to a crow. The normal chemical watermelons are selling at 580 yen at the moment. So that's a loss of 3,480 yen, more if you consider the value of organic produce. And the stupid vermin didn't eat all of the six watermelons. It ate the equivalent of one, and ruined the rest by pecking at them, leaving beak-sized holes for the ants to get in.
And just now when I went outside to sniff the air, I heard a rustling in the corn, and knew that it was a tanuki. I charged up the garden and heard it get over the fence into the mikan orchard next door where it waited while I inspected the damage. Again, it hasn't eaten in an orderly, economically responsible fashion. It has ripped and nibbled at each corn cob in turn, ruining about five, and trampling down some of the stalks.
The corn incident comes as an especially bitter blow since I spent some time this morning setting up nets over the Cannonball black watermelon patch where a crow had tasted but rejected an immature melon (not counted in the damage tally above). With a little foresight, I could have protected the corn. Last year, I lost all of my corn and most of my watermelons to drought, weeds and typhoons. This year, it's not all, but losing some to vermin is a serious annoyance.
This calls for determined protective measures.
OK, 'vermin' might be a bit harsh. Maybe, 'naughty little tinker' might have been fairer. When I went out to water later, my headlight picked out a pair of green eyes staring at me from the other side of the fence. I approached my nemesis talking to it in a soothing voice, and found it was a very young, very black tanuki, only the size of a small cat. I really like tanuki. They're always wary and maintain a safe distance, but they respond to being spoken to, and don't dart off and cower like cats. I put some of the opened cobs on the other side of the fence for it to eat later.
I'm still going to put nets round my next crop of corn though.