Groundhog…woodchuck…whistle pig

26 May

I’ve been watching this guy watching the garden. He’s been watching it. I’ve been watching him. He’s a blur in this picture–the blur dead center because I was in the house, looking through a window and the screen…a dilemma. DSC01259

Co-existence is important to me. So is living in harmony with my environment. But I have history with groundhogs–have provided them more meals from the garden than a reasonable creature should expect. My general m.o. is live and let live. Make room for. Scoot over. But my experience with groundhogs and gardens is that they don’t know when they’ve had their share. Don’t know when to stop. Don’t stop, in fact, until everything is GONE.

And now, since this garden is getting to the really ripe stage, I decided the groundhog needed to be relocated. Baited a hav-a-heart with cantaloupe and set it out in the back yard. Something tripped it during the night. False alarm. But this afternoon, just a little bit ago, I glanced over to where the trap perched on the side of the bank, and truly, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Poor thing was freaking out. Panting. Pacing. So I moved the trap into the shade. In my thinking, I hadn’t gotten this far–had not figured out what I would do if I DID catch something. Fortunately my sister was generously willing to help me relocate the fella. And now he’s down the road a bit, in a lovely glade on the banks of Hominy Creek. Hopefully far enough away so that his internal compass won’t help him find his way back.

And the trap is back on the hillside. I know there are more and I think how nice it would be if I caught all of them and the family could be reunited. That bothers me. Taking him away from his family. It really bothers me.

And the cloth…this spring garden cloth…is coming on. Seeds planted. Awaiting stitches.
spring garden

15 Responses to “Groundhog…woodchuck…whistle pig”

  1. Mo Crow May 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    good luck! we aren’t allowed to relocate the brush tailed possums that eat the Magnolia, Rose and annual flowers in our gardens here in Sydney because they are territorial animals,they can be removed from the roof with a humane trap but must be released on the same property and nothing much deters them !


    • Patricia May 27, 2014 at 5:28 am #

      well, i’ve had a lot of folk offering opinion–like it’s against the law to trap a groundhog. what? they certainly aren’t in danger of extinction at least in these parts. i researched it…found nothing…wondered if “where” it was relocated could be subject to some law of man. could find nothing. so i just did it. in broad daylight. and now i’m waiting for the sun to come up and hoping the trap is empty. the trap, btw, cost $50 and does not hurt the animal at all. that’s why it’s called ‘havaheart!” still, it was a trauma for both of us.


      • Mo Crow May 27, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

        Boundaries… I had to kill, skin, cook and eat a goanna that was eating all the chicken’s eggs for several months back in the mid 80’s. I was a vegetarian at the time so it was a hard decision but I did it. Also had to kill a red bellied black snake that wanted to live in the bedroom, beautiful but quite deadly.
        More recently we had the 80,000 bees in the chimney killed with an ecologically sound substance that only affected the bees back in 2009. Then this year we had to get rid of the giant cockroaches that had moved in to eat the old hive & honey… the most recent invasion was the mortuary beetles eating my eagle feather… it’s about tolerances and setting boundaries in & around the house.


        • Patricia May 28, 2014 at 6:11 am #

          had to look up goanna. and imagine that fella could put away a bunch of eggs over night.

          i shot, skinned and dried a timber rattler once–wish i’d eaten it, but didn’t although really it looked quite like chicken, of course.

          i understand your comment about tolerances and setting boundaries. and while i tend to go through a bit of mental gymnastics around my rights/their rights/coexisting, etc. i generally work through all of that to the point where, IF possible, (and it’s not always possible–poison snakes for example) i try to do no harm. but there does come that point where some primitive brain function kicks in–i think it’s residual fight or flight–with consciousness. and choices have to be made.


  2. fiberels May 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Oh my, we don’t have ground hogs here, but I can imagine (though you adore nature) he’s not welcome in your vegetable garden !!!!!
    (Though I loved the film “Groung Hag Day” 😉 …..)

    Don’t you think that some of the blue bits of your cloth garden look like a cage ????


    • Patricia May 27, 2014 at 5:32 am #

      you make me smile–“ground hog day” was hilarious. and it’s good to keep a sense of humor about things.
      and i suppose time will provide perspective but yesterday i knew i had to be proactive.

      yes, i see how parts of the cloth could look like a cage–or a filter–interesting now to consider this as i add stitch!


  3. karmadondruplhamo May 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    and well, dear whistle pig. love that name, never heard it before.

    and yes. would be so nice if they would take a share. but. i wonder if a “bit” down the
    road is far enough? they might be better than we might hope in finding their way back.
    i would be inclined to go further.


    • Patricia May 27, 2014 at 5:38 am #

      i was thinking about marking it in someway…because really, if he/she returns, i will be in awe…and maybe even inspired to let it graze– even though it’s only about a mile away–it’s a tricky mile–traffic, a few busy roads. oh. i’m getting worried now.


  4. Marti May 27, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    I don’t know, I wonder about the squirrels who comes to dine here but do I worry about the fact that if they wandered over a bit more, they could end up on the highway that is close to our home? Well, no, I don’t.. We tried using a combination water and hot chili spray around the plants but I’m not sure it is working, certainly didn’t work last year when two of them ate our tomatoes. Since these are New Mexican ground squirrels I figure they are chili heads although I will say that their eating our tomatoes turned out to be a benefit on one hand because we ended up planting them in large pots and got a great harvest.

    We don’t have any cages to trap. Then I thought about how in other places, I’ve made scarecrows to ward off the birds and wondered if I took some branches, stuck them in assorted places around the garden spots, tied on strips of my dyed cloth, would the flapping caused by the wind, and there is always wind here, would the dancing cloths cause the squirrels to stay away?

    For now, I’m just letting it all just be because they only have eaten what is planted closest to the brick wall, they don’t venture further into our yard. If they want to eat, ok, we will just keep replanting.


    • Patricia May 27, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      i watch the squirrels eat the neighbor’s bird seed, but they don’t seem at all interested in the garden. the groundhog, on the other hand, has no sense of boundaries–and doesn’t stop until the entire garden is GONE. i did read though that pnut butter with lots of cayenne will deter squirrels, but maybe not NM squirrels. maybe groundhogs as well.

      i laugh remembering how my scarecrows didn’t bother the birds/deer but really frightened my goats.

      and the trap was purchased at home depot–havaheart–they come for little critters as well. hopefully your squirrels will continue to honor boundaries


    • fabricwoman June 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

      We have tree squirrels here in eastern WA, and so far have stayed out of the food garden. We have filbert (hazelnut) trees on our property and I was looking forward to a yearly harvest. Fat chance! The squirrels strip the trees and bury them before they are fully ripened. The only one I got for myself was dropped by a squirrel who was digging it up out of the lawn when I abruptly appeared around the side of the house. He raced to the nearest tree and stopped there, chattering at me. I picked it up, and yelled at him, “I;m eating this!” and cracked it open with a rock on the front walk.and ate the nut. Wish I had THAT on film! ha


  5. Totsy May 27, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    I know! Ground Hogs! They really test me. Hopefully you can relocate them all. You are a kind soul!


    • Patricia May 28, 2014 at 5:58 am #

      i just tell myself he/she’s in a much more pristine environment! more diversity for scavengering.


  6. karmadondruplhamo May 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    so….did you have more company?????
    i use that Tin Cat, same idea probably, for the mice since Tazmeena seems to
    have lost interest in her responsibilities. i like it. but groundhogs seem just more,
    well, opportunistic. just keep it going. maybe there are only a certain number each
    and outside dogs….good.


    • Patricia May 28, 2014 at 5:59 am #

      no more. so far. and a friend alerted me to the fact that groundhogs tend to be solitary creatures.


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