Friday, August 10, 2012

Groundhog War!

The other night I came home, weary from a hard day's work and ready to relax.  Unfortunately, some(fuzzy)body had other ideas.  As I walked toward my front door, I saw not one, but TWO groundhogs just hanging out by the garage here-->;

Now, at this point I think to myself, 'how naive am I?' to think that THIS year, there will be no groundhogs!  To be true, early August is pretty late for me to be seeing any of these pests for the first time.  And as a result, Nicolas and I never got around to fencing our main garden (which is right up against the house).

Once done with the silent self-criticism, I sprang into action.  I chased the two hogs around the back to see where they came from - a vital piece of information when planning a counterattack.  One of them went behind the wood pile, which perplexed me because just a few weeks ago Nicolas (bless his heart) completely rebuilt the wood pile to make it 'groundhog-proof'.  The other one squeezed under the neighbor's fence where he(she?) presumably dug under to get here in the first place.  See, the groundhog family(s) live two doors down from our house.  They cross through my neighbor's yard, and then they eventually find themselves in our yard for what my husband deems 'the open buffet'.  Last year, you may recall the bugger who chomped on all my fall broccoli.  Well, I wasn't about to have a rehash of that!

Okay, back to the mitigation plan.  With groundhogs, you need both an offense and a defense.  I tended to the offense while I waited for Nicolas to get home to tell him the bad news.  I set the trap right at the hole under the fence - this is where the knowledge of where they come from is key.

You can see that I put some wood pieces along both sides of the trap to ensure that the groundhog only has one way to go when crossing under.  Bonus was also that, from the other side of the fence, he can't see where he's going.  Just to be sure, though, I baited the trap with some pineapple and cantaloupe.

Now, for the defense.  I plugged up as best I could the areas in the woodpile I thought the critter could squeeze through.  It always amazes me how many places groundhogs can find as escape routes.  They're smart, and it's a real challenge to be smarter than they are.
At about this point Nicolas came home, and he helped me with the second part of the defense - putting a fence around my prize cantaloupes.  Groundhogs LOVE cantaloupes, and I had about 5-6 beauties just waiting to ripen (all at once, I'll wager).  I was NOT going to let the groundhogs get them.

We hurried up and put a fence around just the 'lopes, because that was my biggest concern in the short term (arrows show two of my babies):

Now, beware that groundhogs can climb, so there was no guarantee that our 'lopes were completely safe behind our 3-foot tall fence.  I do know that it was now very difficult for me to get to them, myself, so I was hoping that I could at least deter them for a few days while allowing the offense to do it's job.

Finally, after finishing all the preparations, I could relax - and wait for the trap.  I awoke the next morning with hope and anticipation...

...but no groundhog.

I checked a few times throughout the morning...

...but no groundhog.

Finally, on a whim, I went back there around lunchtime and...guess what?!?!?!?!

GROUNDHOG!!!!!!!!

Now...for all you folks out there thinking about trapping...please check with your local laws to determine A. whether it's legal to catch them and B. what you must do with them if you do catch one.  We live in Prince George's County, where you can call Animal Management, who will come and take your new friend to a better place.  You can also rent a trap from them for a couple of bucks, but Nicolas and I (unfortunately) do this quite often so we invested in our own (about $45 at the Big Box stores...)

Score 1 for the humans, 0 for the groundhogs.  I reset the trap (remember there were two out there), but so far he hasn't shown up.  Let's hope that until he does, our defenses hold.

5 comments:

  1. So what kind of lopes do you grow? I grew Burpee Ambrosia (planted May 21 from transplants) this year and harvested 8 that went to the beach on Aug 4. My three hills produced a total of 15 fruits and boy do they put even the local lopes from the farm stand to shame.

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    1. Kent - looks like mine this year are Ambrosia, too. I generally get 'whatever the store has', which is usually Burpee. Over the years I've been gaining knowledge of which varieties of which veggies do best, but overall I'm not too particular. The Ambrosias are tasty. So far I've gotten 6 from my two plants, with a couple more on the way.

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  2. nice job! I called the city of rockville when a couple of young raccoons were trapped in my trash can and they said all they could do is kick the can over and let the raccoons run out. He told me the rules which are so convoluted I always think it's simpler to just allow the raccoons to raid my trash every night. :( Rules like if I catch a neighbors pet I could be sued, and if I catch a pest there are many rules about where/how/when to release, and more.

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    1. Wendy - I'm surprised that's what local authorities said, particularly with raccoons. Did you call 'animal control'? Raccoons are known to carry rabies pretty frequently, and in a lot of places if you catch one, you must report it and have it euthanized. I don't mess with raccoons, myself, but fortunately I never see them. Just those pesky groundhogs!

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  3. Congratulations, Donna! You're batting .500 and should be at the top of the statistical chart. A perfect 1.000 would mean gold medal! Keep on trapping!

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