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April 18, 2015
CSA Groundhog Patrol
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
(Photo credited to Shenandoah National Park)
Anyone reading this who has tended a garden understands the longstanding feud between Farmer and Groundhog. In my early twenties, I planted my first vegetable garden. Meticulously I followed the instructions in my favorite gardening book, The Victory Garden. My first glimpse of the curled green elbows of baby plants thrilled me to no end. Within hours a miraculous row of young bean plants decorated my carefully cultivated soil. Proud of my accomplishments I resolved to get up early the next day and plant an additional row. Now I am sure my faithful readers anticipate what sorrowful surprise awaited me the next morning. Of my beautiful row of verdant plants only stubby little bean trunks remained. Not one tiny leaf unfurling its hope of future beany goodness.
A fury of sheer determination welled in my heart. I replanted the beans. Then after scrounging in my parent’s garage I emerged with metal stakes and chicken wire. I pounded stakes and stretched the fence around my little plot. Satisfied, I climbed over the new fence and tended the emerging radishes and lettuces that still remained.
That afternoon, I peaked out the window. There I saw Mr. Groundhog precipitously scaling the wobbly wire fence. Plop! Inside he made quick and dirty work of half a row of lettuce. I ran out hollering all sorts of explicatives in Mr. McGregor style. But he simply slipped under the fence leaving no trace except the razed tender greens.
Now I must tell you this was one fat and happy whistle pig. We would watch him sit on his haunches and peer at the house. We couldn't help but to laugh at him. He looked as if he was ready to pontificate on some heady subject. In fact he resembled my college biology professor so well, that we dubbed him “Dr. D.” Don’t think this meant we were on friendly terms! Indeed no! This was all out war.
I set to work Dr. D.-proofing my fence even further. I laid bricks around the bottom of the fence carefully tucking the bottom of the chicken wire under the bricks. Then I took scraps of fencing and carefully wired a lid over the whole garden. By now I could barely get in, or out, of the garden, depending on which side I was currently on. In spite of the fact the contents of my garden were barely accessible to me, I felt smug that surely I had defeated that oversized rodent enemy.
A day later I stood in shock as I approached the garden. There before me appeared not one, but five groundhogs. Apparently fat Dr. D. was a she and had brought her charming little ones to share Eden. The lot of them scrambled up the fence and proceeded to jump up and down on the rickety fence roof. Plop! Plop! Plop! Plop! Plop! One at a time they fell through the roof into paradise. From deep in my belly a deep feeling of mirth emerged. I laughed till I thought my sides would split. Then I tore down the fence, weeded my garden, and harvested what remained.
At Red Earth Farm, 90 acres is ample room for all kinds of critters eager to share our bounty. Max, our oversized chocolate lab is the Groundhog Patrol, but mostly he hangs out by the pack house oblivious to marauders. Fortunately we have lots of produce to share, mostly with people, but with a few critters too. Do you have any groundhog encounters to share? Hop over to Facebook and let’s hear your story!
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