Groundhog Day

I first noticed the damage last week. I thought it was deer, but there were no deer tracks. The sweet peas were nipped off and some eaten to the ground. Then I saw some asparagus eaten, and some strawberry plants. Yesterday I found my two tomatillos almost gone and one of my tomatoes eaten to nothing. Curiously, the most severe damage was to the sunchokes, which I really don’t care that much about. They are just there. We occasionally harvest a few, but they are hardly a crop I worry about. Damage to my tomatoes, however, is a declaration of war.

I saw the creature at noon today when I went to the barn to get some tools. It was standing on its hind legs in the lawn next to the south beds. It was a woodchuck. I walked toward it to see where it would head. It casually sauntered away as I approached and it ambled into the weeds by my north beds between my house and my neighbors. I followed it and found a burrow only about ten feet from the asparagus bed. It had great access to both my neighbors garden and mine.

I have a live trap, a Havahart,that I’ve used successfully for raccoons and feral cats in the past. I got on the Internet and read that of all the foods, groundhogs like broccoli best. Fortunately, fresh organic broccoli from the co-op was purchased yesterday. I sliced off a few pieces of stem and some leaves and a minimal amount of side shoot florets. I wasn’t going to waste the best parts on the critter.

I put the broccoli into a yogurt container top, got the trap from the barn, set the trap about two feet from the burrow, baited the trap and set the trap door. When I checked two hours later I had her. Broccoli did the job.

I left her in the trap until after dinner, then I put her in the van, drove her to a place where the wild things are and released her. She really stunk of urine. Whew! I have a feeling she had pups or kits or whatever the babies are called, but I’m losing no sleep over collateral damage. Woodchucks are extremely destructive and my garden has to come first.

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