Saturday, July 21, 2012

Man Versus Woodchuck

Woodchuck/Groundhog/Land beaver/Whistlepig/Marmot
One of the first signs of spring is groundhogs.  They dig their holes flush up against blacktop roads.  Needless to say they don’t all live long.  Once someone tucked a beer bottle into the crook of one poor fellow’s arm and propped him along the road near my house, a taxidermist wannabe perhaps?  I wonder how many potholes are from groundhogs digging.  It is a sad fact of life that those who cost taxpayer’s money don’t garner much sympathy.  Despite the fact that February 2nd is a day devoted entirely to groundhogs, the rest of the year they fall under the varmint label.  Life is so not fair.  City dwellers everywhere should rise up in outrage and adopt them all as pets and keep them safe in their apartments, maybe put sweaters on them in winter.  I picture that being like trying to stuff a limp hairy octopus into a little baggie, but I’m sure it can be done. 
It is mid-summer here in Iceland and the groundhogs have extended their territory to include Dear Hubby’s garden (they like zucchini, but just one bite out of each squash, so you really can’t complain) and Hubby’s barn. They dug the foundation out, built little tunnels beneath the sidewalk and occasionally build pits inside tall grass in the yard.  They’re trying to take down the tractor, like in that movie Tremors.  They haven’t launched anyone completely off the mower when it hits a hidden hole, yet.  Sometimes they watch from their holes and laugh though.  It’s only a matter of time before we look out there one day and the dudes will be riding the tractor around, drinking and listening to loud music.  I doubt my neighbors will mind, they’ll be so pleased to see someone mowing the grass.  It will really tick off Dear Hubby though, because it would mean they won.

Hubby put a waterproofed radio in the garden.  I objected when I heard country music coming from there.  He knows I’m allergic and it would just get the dudes line dancing anyway.  I helped and changed the channel.  Now it is pretty much static.  That seems to have worked, either that or like the rest of us the groundhogs are just sick of zucchini by now.  The tunnels moved from the entire backside of the barn to the front, so out came the traps.  Having learned nothing from the Canadian blue-tailed squirrel story (http://www.theglitterglobe.com/2012/07/campfires-canada-day-eh.html) my benevolent Hubby was going to capture them and take them for a ride.  They won’t go inside no matter what tempting groundhog bait he puts in there.  I think it is because the groundhogs are way fatter than the traps.
Earlier in the year, when the fellas first made their appearance my guys pondered shooting them.  Don’t tell hubby, but whenever I saw a woodchuck I’d knock on the window and he’d run off before the guys with the license to kill got up in the morning.  I didn’t know groundhogs had more relatives than my Bohemian family.  One of our neighbors AND the internet told us that gum can get rid of groundhogs.  Apparently it gets stuck in their intestines and it is not a nice way to go folks, the bullet would be far kinder.  Though there are now about six packs of Juicy Fruit sticks littering my backyard.  Dear Hubby swears he sees the gum chewed up and sitting on the edges of the groundhog’s holes.  He said they chew it until the flavor is gone and spit it out. 

One evening the biggest groundhog, obviously the Patriarch of the clan, sat in the middle of the backyard making obscene gestures.  A licensed hunter was here and he got a gun out of the safe, then the ammo out of that locked ammo box which was also in the safe, then he crept slowly outside to tackle the groundhog who by now was checking his watch and rolling his eyes.  The groundhog laughed and stood up against the barn, throwing his arms and legs out in an obvious “You’ve got me” gesture.  Problem was he was now flush up against the barn and his demise would have meant a nice big hole in the side of the barn too.  Then he slid down into a hole beneath it.  He popped his head out a few times to gloat and mock. 
Today I glanced out the back window and saw hubby’s camouflage hunting-blind in the woods.  These little tents are where hunters go to read their wife’s book during hunting season.  Hubby said he is airing it out.  I think you just can’t tease a hunter when you’re in season, words to live by, those.  Good thing I’m out of season. 
If you're aware of any merciful way to get woodchucks to move from my yard, to yours, or even your in-laws, please leave me a comment!  Or if you want to come catch one to live in your apartment, feel free. Also, I'd love to hear your groundhog stories!
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