26 September 2011

But They're So Darn Cute!

The big red barn on our property hasn't been used for housing livestock for I'd imagine years but that doesn't mean it's unoccupied.  To date, we've seen racoons, feral cats, foxes, mice, rats and skunks use the once majestic building for refuge.  Mostly, they either just pass through as a quick spot to hide or hunt vermin but some come to stay all winter.

There is one particular guest that is well known for hibernation.  Well, really, everybody's more concern with what happens when they wake up.  Know who I'm talking about?
Source
Groundhogs!  A.k.a. Gophers!

The previous falls, we've only seen one hefty fella who spend a cozy winter in the depths beneath the barn.  Come spring, he was on his way.  This year, the big guy was replaced by a daintier version with three adorable offspring.

They were fun to watch every morning as they'd take a family outing to graze on the tender green grass.  That is, until they were no longer satisfied with their modest tunnel system.  New holes began popping up daily.  In the barn, under our propane tank, under the garbage container, in the chicken coop, beneath the burn pile . . . yikes!  Their tunnels have become a veritable mansion.  Now when they dine, each little critter pops out of their own hole and munches undisturbed while mother watches from the chicken coop.

I wouldn't mind so much except the other day, they began digging holes in the middle of my yard.  I have a newfound understanding for farmer's rationale in ridding their property of these vermin.  Many more holes and I'm bound to step in one and snap my ankle.  I, for one, do not want to be hobbling on crutches while trying to care for animals and small children.  Even worse, a hole in a pasture could be fatal for a horse galloping to the paddock for an evening meal.







What do I do?  My grandmother--a farm-raised girl herself--said she and her friends and siblings used to lay a slipknot at the end of a rope around the hole and sit and wait for hours until one popped his head out.  With a quick jerk, they'd have a new "pet" already on a leash.
While it certainly sounds like loads of fun, I don't have hours to burn waiting for the beast to appear.  I've already attempted a live trap but am a bit wary of it since all I ever seem to catch in it are skunks.  That leaves very few other options.


This reminds me of the pictures of Loch Ness--you can kind of  see what it is but there's room for debate.  It's a groundhog, I promise!



I've had a few offers to come and shoot the family but that leaves me wringing my hands.  I hate to kill a perfectly good animal, even if they do dig annoying holes wherever they please.  I'd be justified but they're just so darn cute!  With winter fast approaching, they'll soon be slumbering anyway.  Maybe I'll postpone my decision until next spring to see if I can scare them off before any more show up.  I know a few people with dachshunds that I'm sure would be thrilled to have something to chase . . .

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