May 23 2012
Many years ago, when Martin and I had just bought our farm, we woke early to marvel at our new property.
“Just look at the view,” Martin said, pulling me to the window. “Isn’t that a great sight?”
The sun was already high in a brilliant blue sky and birds twittered along the carriage house.
“Hey, look at the groundhog,” I said pointing at a fat, sandy-colored, beaver-creature ambling around the boxwoods. “Isn’t it cute?”
Just then Pongo, the neighbor’s dalmatian, darted in view and sunk his jaws into the groundhog’s midsection. He thrashed the dickens out of it.
The groundhog put up a fight; it screeched a near-human scream and slashed the air with its claws. But the oversized rodent was no match for Pongo. After an interminable five minutes, the dalmatian dragged away the limp quarry, leaving a pool of blood on the drive.
“Well,” said Martin, “welcome to the country.”
That was 11 years ago. During our naive-newbie days. When groundhogs were cute and Pongo was a miserable cur with a murderous streak.
Now I’d give anything for Pongo and his blood-thirsty vigor.
Since that dog’s passing, groundhogs have been a growing problem. They unearth ankle-breaking holes in our horse pasture. Historically, the burrows have been nestled near the trees — in an area avoided by galloping horses.
But last weekend Martin was mowing the back field when he lost a tire down a huge groundhog burrow. He freed the mower and moments later, Hadley ran across the field and encountered the same crater.
It nearly swallowed her whole.
I did not photograph Hadley’s mishap, but asked if she’d serve as a measuring stick:
|“You want me to do what?”|
|Water and nurture them as seedlings and your kids will sprout in the springtime…|
|Going, going, almost gone….|
It would be devastating if a horse stepped into one of these holes so we’ve moved the herd to the front field while we plot the groundhogs’ “departure.”
There are all sorts of homemade eradication methods — stuffing the burrow with moth balls, ammonia rags, Pine-sol, gasoline, exhaust fumes, sulfur gas cartridges, or cat urine. There are also Havahart traps. But among the dozen I’ve queried, one solution floats to the top: find a good marksman.
Unfortunately, I’m only certified to shoot a water gun. We need to borrow a hunter or rent a redneck. Someone who knows what they’re doing — unlike the pigeon hunters who predated us; they shot up the hayloft, turning the barn roof into a colander.
Sorry, groundhogs. You and and your bone-breaking burrows have got to go!