What to look for when buy­ing an air ri­fle for pos­sum pa­trol

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

IF YOU have an or­chard, or any kind of fresh, new, tasty growth this spring – think all those wil­low and po­plar poles sprout­ing new leaves – you’re go­ing to find pos­sums. Worse, they may be danc­ing over your ceiling at 2am in the morn­ing mim­ick­ing the sounds of an ele­phant.

Traps are ex­cel­lent for on­go­ing con­trol, but if you have a pos­sum cornered, an air gun is per­fectly ca­pa­ble of dis­patch­ing it.

The air ri­fle

Used for: pest con­trol, eg rab­bits, hares, pos­sums, rats, fer­rets, stoats, wild cats, pest bird species* Types: spring-pow­ered, Co2-pow­ered, pre-charged pneu­matic (PCP) Li­cence: not re­quired for spring or CO2pow­ered but is re­quired for PCP air ri­fles Kill range: about 20m, up to 40m for ex­pe­ri­enced shoot­ers Pel­let range: 50-120m*

Spring-pow­ered

Spring-pow­ered air ri­fles have a crank or lever on the bar­rel that the op­er­a­tor pulls be­tween shots. This squeezes an in­ter­nal spring and sucks in some air, com­press­ing it to pro­vide the power to pro­pel the pel­let when you pull the trigger. These ri­fles are cheap, easy to use, self-con­tained and very ro­bust, but it takes prac­tice to get con­sis­tent ac­cu­racy as they fire with a small kick.

Co2-pow­ered

Co2-pow­ered air ri­fles use a small can­is­ter of liq­uid car­bon diox­ide to cre­ate pres­sure. When trig­gered, a small in­ter­nal valve re­leases a squirt of gaseous CO2 be­hind the pel­let. These have no kick when fired, are very quiet and ac­cu­rate, but need an ex­ter­nal sup­ply of CO2 (which you will need to buy sep­a­rately). They are sen­si­tive to air tem­per­a­ture so you tend to get less power when it’s cold.

Pre-charged Pneu­matic (PCP)

Pre-charged pneu­matic air ri­fles are at the higher end of the mar­ket and have a small tubu­lar cylin­der mounted un­der the bar­rel. This is filled with high pres­sure air, usu­ally by a pump or dive tank. These work the same way as the CO2 air ri­fle but do not have the lim­i­ta­tions of tem­per­a­ture, and can be semi-au­to­matic. These ri­fles can be quite ex­pen­sive be­cause they are very pow­er­ful and ac­cu­rate, and you will re­quire a firearms li­cence if you wish to buy or use one.

YOU CAN never have too many sheds, but if your bud­get doesn’t spring to some­thing that re­quires a coun­cil per­mit, it is pos­si­ble to build a gar­den shed un­der 10m², the typ­i­cal size of a shed be­fore you need one*. To qual­ify as a ‘gar­den shed’, it must be one storey, con­tain no fa­cil­i­ties (eg, a toi­let, wa­ter sup­ply) and must be at least their own height away from any bound­ary. A shed un­der 10m² can have any floor di­men­sions you like. For ex­am­ple, you may choose to have a wide shed that’s not very deep, or one that’s deep enough to al­low you to store a ride-on mower. But what­ever you want, it pays to grab a mea­sur­ing tape and some pegs and work out what size works best for your needs. Make sure it’s also easy to ac­cess. A flat site is go­ing to need the least amount of prepa­ra­tion, but you also want a clay base (so you can lay a con­crete base, or at the very least a gravel base) and you want to make sure there is ad­e­quate drainage. There is a won­der­ful range of small kit­set gar­den sheds in stores these days, mostly de­signed for ur­ban gar­dens and very shel­tered sites. These don’t tend to re­quire a per­mit (the re­tailer will tell you if it does) and come with ev­ery­thing you need.

How­ever, if you’re plan­ning to have your shed sit­ting any­where that’s not an en­closed, shel­tered place, par­tic­u­larly if you get strong winds, check the specs: the frames and trusses are of­ten thin steel that don’t have the rigid­ity or strength to stand up to wind gusts, and if you’re near the sea, they may not have the right spec­i­fi­ca­tion cladding to with­stand salt. If you’re not ex­pe­ri­enced at build­ing, you may think it’s a case of grab­bing a ham­mer and nails, but tech screws and riv­ets are im­por­tant fas­ten­ings, es­pe­cially for cladding and roof­ing. Brack­ets to at­tach it to a floor or con­crete foun­da­tion blocks also add strength, re­in­forc­ing the frame. There’s noth­ing more an­noy­ing than build­ing your shed to fit your ride-on mower, then find­ing it won’t fit. Make sure you mea­sure the width of your mower and al­low ex­tra room for hinges and the door’s frame.

Doors can be slid­ing doors (eas­ier to in­stall, but do re­quire ex­tra wall to slide past) or hinged doors which can be closed and se­cured more eas­ily. Al­ways have doors on the long­est side so you can eas­ily ac­cess ev­ery­thing in your shed, whether it’s to the left or the right. n

There aren’t many peo­ple in the world who can say they have mil­lions of fans, and Elsie Hall – part-time artist, laven­der en­thu­si­ast – who lives on a block in a quiet lit­tle vil­lage in the Wairau Val­ley doesn’t look like a rock star.

But her patented plant cre­ations are the celebri­ties of the laven­der world, sold in high num­bers ev­ery year. The other big star is Thum­be­lina Leigh, a lit­tle plant that grows to just 40-60cm in height in a round, com­pact shape and blooms its heart out, pro­duc­ing lots of strongly scented flow­ers. Elsie found it as a cross­bred plant grow­ing in her crop back in the early 1990s, recog­nised what a great op­tion it was for gar­den­ers and be­gan to prop­a­gate it. But it wasn’t un­til she took part in Mag­gie’s Gar­den Show in 2002 that the world heard about it. The re­sult was Elsie got an agent, Morten Dam­stad of Ki­wi­flora. Thum­be­lina Leigh was patented to pro­tect it, and Morten’s work with nurs­eries world­wide saw it be­come an in­stant hit.

“I think I’m re­ally lucky to have met (Morten). If it wasn’t for the Mag­gie Barry show coming to me, he would never have known what I was try­ing to do. I have no knowl­edge of over­seas mar­ket­ing and it’s so to­tally dif­fer­ent, ev­ery coun­try you need to have a new patent to pro­tect your in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, which is what the plants are – they’re my prop­erty so there are peo­ple em­ployed who make sure nurs­eries are not tak­ing ad­van­tage of your plant and renaming it. A roy­alty is paid on each plant which we re­ceive, it is very reg­u­lated.

“She’s an ex­cel­lent va­ri­ety to mar­ket be­cause of her early flow­er­ing… they can shift her around the world very quickly be­cause she’s so com­pact… and also they can move it in vol­ume in huge amounts – I can’t give you the fig­ures but they’re ab­so­lutely huge.”

Elsie took up grow­ing laven­der 25 years ago, after she moved to the Wairau Val­ley. She joined the NZ Laven­der Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, planted out dozens of va­ri­eties of laven­der in all colours – from shades of laven­der and pur­ple to white and yel­low – even­tu­ally end­ing up with over 150 dif­fer­ent types. She now men­tors other grow­ers, in­clud­ing Leonie (see page 19).

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