………….if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
We all remember that childhood tongue twister! Puxatawney Phil was always a favorite of mine, and I loved seeing groundhogs munching happily along the side of the road. They go by many names: woodchuck, groundhog, whistlepig (for the noise they make), and marmota morax!
But then, we moved to the country! Now, keep in mind, I have always been anti hunter, an animal lover since birth, but living here has changed me a little, at least where groundhogs are concerned!
SO, IF YOU ARE A TOTAL ANIMAL LOVER, PLEASE STOP READING THIS POST NOW!!!!
Since moving out here to the country, we have learned, that groundhogs, altho cute, are extremely prolific, can wreak havoc in your garden, make holes the size of garbage can lids for the many entrances and exits of their dens.
When we moved here, I had visions of riding our horses across our fields, until I walked those fields one day, and discovered the dangerous holes hidden throughout the tall grass. If one of our aging horses ever stepped into one of these excavations while galloping or even while walking, it could cause serious injury, possibly death, not only to the horse, but to the rider also.
The farmer on a 4 wheeler, or in the tractor, can tell you where all the holes are, his bone jarring discovery when the tires fall into them, sears that location in his memory!
Our 100′ by 40′ vegetable patch has been fenced and electrified at great expense, to keep groundhogs and deer from decimating our crop. It’s been pretty successful, so far, -the deer have the great expanse of hay fields to munch on, so to my knowledge, they haven’t tested the fence yet!
Our first real encounter with the groundhogs was actually the dog’s encounter. While out playing ball with the husband one afternoon, (see previous post about our dog family), Sunny suddenly veered off into the tall grass. I was inside, and saw a flash of white tear past my front window flinging his prize into the air as he ran. I flew out the front door after him, Sunny came back with a 30 lb groundhog clenched in his jaws. He threw this poor thing in the air like it was a tennis ball, the weight didn’t phase him at all! Allie soon joined the fray- as soon as Sunny obeyed my command to “drop it!”, Allie leaped right in and took her turn at the groundhog. I will never forget the look in that groundhog’s eyes. I pulled both dogs off into the house, and told the husband to shoot the groundhog, who, by now, was mortally wounded.
Sunny and Allie were not without minor wounds – groundhogs are tough little guys. Being hunters, and very much the predators, Allie and Sunny know where every groundhog hole is!! They will alert us, when they spot a groundhog out the back window, and the husband goes out to get rid of them. He is a good shot, altho one did manage to crawl away today. I will allow the dogs to find , but not touch that groundhog, to make sure he is dead. We remove the carcasses to a field, where the vultures come in to feast, and nature takes its course. I feel shooting the groundhogs, while certainly not kind, is a far better end, than being torn apart by a dog.
When the hay is cut, we will have to go out in the field and fill in any den holes with rocks, and with each cutting, walk the fields again to make sure there are no new holes.
Life in the country is wonderful, and in many instances, eye opening. We, as transplanted urbanites, are learning something new every day. For me, the ardent animal lover, it is sometimes a harder lesson to learn.
All is well, except for the groundhogs, at Mountain Meadows today!