|Botta's Pocket Gopher - courtesy of Wikipedia|
Frogpond is infested by gophers. This spring they are everywhere: in the gardens near the house and down in the lower garden; in the compost pile and underneath the chicken coop; all through the orchard and in the raised beds (even the ones lined bottom and sides with fine-mesh wire). They have tunnels in my outdoor potted plants and have also managed to dig under the gravel of our driveway. Their holes are all around the pond and their holes travel all the way up into the hills.
We've always had varying degrees of problems with gophers, but nothing like the magnitude of this destruction that is decimating just about everything I've got growing.
When we went shopping yesterday, our chrysanthemums had flowers. When we came home, not so much.
I also noticed that our driveway sunflower was leaning forwards at an odd angle. I brought the hose over to give it a drink and then noticed the gnaw-marks all the way around the stem.
|A young oak I grew from an acorn - completely girdled|
|Apple tree in the orchard|
|Lady Banks Rose -- it's planted within a wire cage,|
but gophers went over it
I work hard at not being too emotionally invested in my Frogpond garden(s). Over the years I've learned that most plants here don't make it to maturity. Between drought, heat, cold, wind, deer, and gophers, I have many more failures than successes. I try not to become too attached -- I'm happy when a plant or crop does well and remember to breath and let go when, as is more often the case, they die. This spring I'm doing a lot of breathing and letting go -- but I do allow myself to indulge in a little teeth-gnashing.
We've also got the Frogpond A-Team working on the problem.
Both dogs have learned how to hunt gophers, but Chance has developed quite a skill in pouncing on them in the tall grass.
Of the resident cats, Max is by far the most skilled and averages two to three gophers a day. However, even the elderly Arby (missing half of his teeth), is catching them on a regular basis.
Other years, Bruce has set gopher traps with moderate success, but this year he's hunting them with his 22. Bruce looks nothing like Elmer Fudd, but I was reminded of him while watching him creeping through the orchard yesterday. They have similar techniques. At one point, Bruce even turned, put his fingers to his lips, and whispered, "Be vewy, vewy, quiet!"
In some respects, getting rid of all these gophers seems hopeless. There are so many of them. I'm curious why there are so many this year. Does this have something to do with the above-average rains this year? I also notice that we have no rattlesnakes showing up here yet. We don't exactly lay out the red carpet for them, but I have to say that snake's do a fine job of thinning out the rodents. Could the rains have washed them away?
Perhaps, in the end, we'll just have to carry on with dispatching as many gophers as we can while waiting for nature to bring things in balance again. Things have a way of working out. Breath and let go.