The Case For Critters

I love animals as much as the next person, but sometimes the ones who were meant to be loose and in the wild forget their place. I will admit that we humans often help them to forget by invading their space. When our new neighbor moved in we had such a case.

The house directly across from us, aka the only house near us, had been empty for quite some time. Then last May Pennie moved in and we took an instant liking to her. Although she had lived in the city most of her life, she was determined to make it in the country. She was determined to be self-sufficient and would let nothing stop her. She had, well, grit!

Being all alone, Jim and I would occasionally check in and ask her if she needed anything. Then, matter-of-factly, she stated one weekend that she wasn’t alone anymore. “I have three guests, but none of them were invited,” she announced.

It seems that a ground mole, a family of gophers, and a woodchuck all arrived at once. The woodchuck was the biggest nuisance since it burrowed under one side of her deck and surfaced on the other side creating two huge holes with a tunnel between.

She checked the Internet to see how to rid her yard of the varmints. We looked over and saw her in the yard, clad in long sleeves, gloves and a gas mask. She was setting smoke bombs off in the runs. We also had to watch where we stepped in her yard because mole traps dotted the lawn. This wasn’t just a one-time deal, nearly every other day we saw the same scene. She was as determined as the varmints were.

Apparently, these methods worked for the mole and gophers but the woodchuck was more hard-headed. Whenever she would jam a large rock in the entrance to one of its tunnels, it just moved and dug another one. I think, if you listened real close, you could almost hear the furry critter chuckling at her. After a month she grew not only more exasperated, but more determined. “One of us is leaving,” she declared, “and it won’t be me!”

Photo: iStockphoto.com/Smileus

Since the base of her house consisted of banked dirt, it was easy for the varmint to dig. So, one weekend Jim and I took her to a rock pile and gathered enough rocks to lay around the perimeter of her house. This was no easy task as the rocks were 10 inches in diameter or better and by the time we filled the trailer they had gotten pretty heavy. But, it was worth it since it did the trick. The woodchuck must have decided it was just too much work to live there and moved on to be an annoyance to someone else.

Granted, woodchucks and raccoons and other wild animals are a nuisance and wreak havoc in yards. On top of that, many carry disease. They are part of the Master’s plan, we just haven’t figured out yet what their usefulness is.

However, in their defense we humans have encroached on their living quarters. There used to be plenty of wooded areas for them to thrive in their natural habitat and have a good food supply. Then people started to move from the suburbs and build not only on flat country ground, but also in the midst of wooded areas, lowlands, and on the edge of ponds. When we drive them out of their natural habitat is it any wonder they invade our yards and homesteads. After all, they were there first and they need a place to live.

So, what’s the answer to co-habitat with them in peace? I guess it is a trade-off. You get the peace and quiet of country living but you have to also expect a few visitors along the way. Just don’t crowd them out all the way and everyone should be happy.

“Talk about being happy,” Pennie says, “the local hardware store was sure unhappy to hear that my varmints had left. They were making a fortune on me!”

In this case, Jim and I are sure glad the critters left and not Pennie.

Published on Oct 9, 2013

Grit Magazine

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