Outwitted and Incensed

Yesterday, I contemplated the day’s accomplishments. I couldn’t come up with much that was productive. The most energy I expended was chasing that #$%!!! groundhog, that gluttonous rodent who considers the morning glories around the birdfeeders his woodchuck feast. I am not enjoying this particular ravine resident.

I looked to Ask.com for the answers this morning. The questions were there, but let me re-do the answers. Those who follow me in the quest for groundhog truth need my accumulated knowledge.

What does a groundhog eat? Look, he is a ground “HOG”. He eats anything. Everything. He is especially fond of what you don’t want him to eat. I saw “Groundhogs are primarily vegetarians with an occasional bug thrown in.” The “occasional bug” must be rare. I’ve seen no reduction in the horde of mosquitoes this year. I do reject the groundhog’s pure vegetarianism, though, because I’ve seen him eat spaghetti. Bolognese. I didn’t care about the pasta but I was so surprised that I changed his name from Chubs to Gordo. I was trying for Italian but Gordo also loves tacos.

What will a groundhog eat? Twenty times his weight in morning glories, cosmos, cantaloupe, watermelon, green beans, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This animal burrows all winter, only coming out when it’s time to announce the coming of spring on February 2. I’m losing sleep trying to find a way to stop his ravaging and Gordo will curl up and snore all winter. He prepares for this long sleep in the quiet and safe ravine by bulking up at Diana’s Diner.

What does a groundhog do during the day? What??? Have you been listening? He re-landscapes my back yard. Gordo excels at the pruning process. He’s just a little greedy in his choices of prunees. In the lush lower gardens, Gordo ignores the abundance of weeds in favor of the dahlias, rejects out-of-control mint for rudbeckia, and turns up his nose at enough crape myrtle suckers to fill two wheelbarrows to decimate just one blue delphinium.

One of the answers made me laugh out loud. “One way to keep groundhogs away is to spread peppermint oil on whatever you want them to stay away from. You could also plant peppermint plants to keep them away.” Obviously, this person has never been terrorized by mint runners.

Then there was, “Epsom salts placed near or around the runs will keep  the groundhog away.” A white three-quarters of an acre in the winter might be okay, but Punksutawney Gordo doesn’t dine in cold weather. Maybe I could throw up a few striped umbrellas, lay out some Barbie beach towels, and call it a beach.

Here’s another. “Sprinkle cayenne pepper where the groundhog is unwanted” and “You can mix 1 tablespoon of hot sauce with 1 gallon of water and then put it in a sprayer and spray all around your plants”. Another har-de-har echoes around the room. There is not enough cayenne at Kroger to discourage Gordo and until Tabasco signs me for a contract, I bettersave my money for Buffalo wing sauce.

And the last answer in this category began with “Ground hogs have no respect for your garden plants.” This insightful writer wanted me to  “Make sure humans and animals, preferably large ones, frequent the area.” Dave and I are both short but we’re a bit round so I declare that, today, we can be considered “large ones” but when I saw that the large animals we should engage include coyotoes, bobcats, and pit bulls, I promised Murphy we’d pass on this suggestion.

How do you get rid of groundhogs? Until Gordo, Grandpa enjoyed success in live-trapping Gordo’s relatives. Dave is experienced with loading the fur-filled trap into the pickup for a short ride to the State of Tennessee Agricultural Center, home to unwanted critters from miles around. Daughter-in-law Vicky let us in on her destination for two dozen chipmunks and one of Gordo’s distant relatives.One day this week, we cut through the ag center on our way home from downtown.

“There’s where we let the groundhogs loose,” Dave said, pointing to some rolling hills of trees and pasture.

“What if somebody sees you?” I asked.

“Then we just open the door, shove him out, and drive like hell,” he said.

“There’s a ten mile per hour speed limit in here,” I said.

“It’s never happened yet,” he said.

So far, Gordo has avoided the apple-baited snare. Meanwhile, I keep hope alive. I beat on the window, yell, and chase him to the big ditch.

He’s too fast for me. There’s no way I’ll catch him on foot.

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