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):
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?!?!?!?!
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.