Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Groundhog 2

We have set and baited several traps over in the cemetery field.

(these are live traps, commonly called Have-a-hearts, cages with one end open and when the animal goes inside to eat the bait he/she steps on a trip-plate that springs a trap door to slam shut behind her).

The cemetery field is where we grew the winter squash and pumpkins. It is also the field where a family of groundhogs established residence earlier this summer

(maybe back then it wasn’t a family, but rather only a pair of newlyweds. Now, though, there’s definitely a family, or maybe several families).

Anyway, this fall these squatters ate close to 500 pumpkins and winter squash. Not only did they eat that many but there were another 400 damaged winter squash (Remember the winter squash in the shares with the bite already eaten?)

Realizing the problem we set out to finding solutions.

1. Get one of the gp’s to stay over in the cemetery field. Both Andorra and Twain have a great love for groundhogs (as in - groundhog for dinner)
2. Put an electric fence around the field. We have plenty of those portable woven fences that work to keep sheep and goats and chickens in. And if they work to keep animals in, why won’t they work to keep groundhogs out?
3. Someone can sit over there for hours with rifle in hand waiting for one of the evil critters to apppear
4. We can trap them. Set out strategically located traps, and when the groundhog finds itself trapped inside the cage we can then relocate them to some place far, far away.

Now why didn’t these methods work?

1. Twain and Andorra don’t want to stay over in that field. If they aren’t tied up they come back home, and if they are tied up (and I don’t like tying up a dog) they don’t have the freedom to chase down the marauding groundhog.
2. The groundhogs have these really cunning front paws that they can use just about as well as we use our hands. After getting shocked once or twice they quickly learn not to touch the hot wires but instead to lift the bottom strand (the one without an electric charge) and carefully slide right under the fence (I saw this done).
3. I don’t have time to sit over in that field with a rifle waiting for a ground hog to appear. And even if I did I know that with my shooting skills I would probably miss and the ground hog would quickly run back into the briar thickets and disappear.
4. Finally, the traps.

Last week, the first animal caught in the trap was a house cat. One of our house cats. What she was doing going into a trap baited with vegetables is not known but there she was. When I set her free she stomped off, her pride, obviously, hurt.

The second time the trap was sprung there was no animal inside. Instead,the back door to the trap (this is a wire panel that slides up and down), had been lifted up. In other words, some animal, no doubt a ground hog, walked into the trap. The trapdoor slammed shut, and the groundhog, after looking around, examined its situation, and saw its prison cell's weakness. It was able, with its cunning hands, to slide its fingers under the back door and slowly lift it up high enough to squirm out to freedom.

Number three was the opossum. A baby opossum. Sort of cute. Looking, for all the world, much like a sweet, cuddly, endearing, sewer rat. I took it down to the other-side of the creek, opened the trap’s back door and after some coaxing it waddled off into the woods.

Then, there was last night’s catch. A larger animal. Almost as large as a ground hog. Only, instead of being gray, this one had a two toned fur coat. Black and white. Mostly black with a white stripe running down its back.

An animal that I usually don’t willingly get into close contact with.

Even if it is inside a cage and I’m on the outside it has the capability of making you very sorry.

And the question of the day is: ‘How do you release a skunk from a cage?’

Do I need to say the answer?


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