Most folks know porcupines climb trees to eat tree bark and conifer needles. Stunted, contorted "Bonsai" hemlocks, deformed by winter browsing porcupines, often indicate rocky dens nearby.
Porcupines' austere diet of bitter needles is a "diet of desperation" to get though winter. By early spring, porcupines seek swelling buds of sweet maples and juicy sapwood beneath the bark of birch and poplar twigs.
What many people don't realize is that "Porkys" often migrate to greener pastures in spring.
When tender greens become available, porcupines migrate to fields, pastures and ornamental trees. I've found juvenile "porcupettes" grazing on dandelions and clover at dusk in our pasture. While they avoid confrontation with people or dogs, porcupines are drawn to tender greens and flowers.
An acquaintance lost beds of spring lettuce, peppers and flats of impatiens. Summer was uneventful. But then in fall, she lost all her cucumbers, zucchinis, butternut squashes and eggplants. Apparently porcupines don't care for basil and tomatoes. She was mystified until a backyard surveillance camera revealed a porcupine in her raised beds.
I've battled porcupines eating pear trees and my ornamental weeping willow where they feed by bending and breaking branches. A barking dog didn't concern the porcupine perched high above. The solution was to fence trees by wrapping chicken wire around grade stakes.
A salt block in the sheep pen proved irresistible. One winter morning, I found our ram with his forehead bristling with quills. I wonder how far he butted that startled "quill pig!"