Hooves, Hogs and Other Updates


I have a habit of introducing subjects to Funny Farm…

…and then never mentioning them ever again.

And wouldn’t you know it? A few chronic readers requested follow-up reports. Whatever happened to the groundhogs? What’s the deal with Chance… is he still injured?

Well, here’s everything you need to know —

— about our marmot infestation.

Groundhog recap: Back in May we discovered Hadley-sized groundhog burrows littering the back pasture.


An epic hole…


Hog follow-up: no hired guns needed. Upon close scrutiny we determined that the varmints had vacated the premises.

I acquired a Chitty-load of dirt and pitched numerous shovels scoops down every hole until they were ground level.


Chitty staggered beneath this load…


On to other updates.

Foot recap: Back in August, Chance’s hoof looked like this:


Grand Canyon crater. Gross….

Hoof health compromised due to foot fungus and a fox hunting injury.

Foot followup: Our blacksmith predicted the southern half of Chance’s hoof would fall off and…

… he was right.

Shortly thereafter, it looked like this:

Ug, even more gross…


I invested a small fortune in duct tape, bandaged and booted “franken-hoof.”

Over time it healed and grew out.

Then he abscessed the other foot.

My memory of 2012… lots of time logged here.


Chance is now sound but terribly fat and out of shape.

Meanwhile I’m fox hunting my neighbor’s horse, Silver.

The view from between her ears….


Post-hunting and ready for cocktails; Silver eyes up her trailer.


Finally, the Little Man update.

Remember the lawn jockey we acquired late spring? I slated him as a “fun” painting project.

Recap: Back in June, he looked like this:

Patchwork and painting needed….


Follow up: many months later he looks like this:

Triaged and labeled “low priority”…


Little Man is long-listed. I’ll get to him one day. Projected completion date: somewhere between now and 2020.










Rent-A Redneck?

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!