Over the past two summers, my husband has been battling the vermin that destroy my crops. I’m too squeamish to kill the groundhogs myself. Give me a pig, frog or rat that has been killed, soaked in perservatives and injected in dye, and I’ll blissfully wield the scapula. Or hand me a dead, plucked, packaged chicken and I can cut it, roast it, and boil it for dinner. But, murdering live animals? That’s yucky. That’s a chore for our fluffy feline, OJ, or my daring hubby.
Without natural predators, the groundhogs here have become fearless. One groundhog refused to move for my husband as he pedaled his bike home from work. Rodent and human engaged into a game a chicken: Isaac did not veer in his path and the groundhog stood his ground. He didn’t budge until Isaac’s front wheel rolled over his back, and then he squealed in anger but was mostly unharmed.
Last year, a pair of groundhogs ate several ripening melons and destroyed a couple of other plants. To avenge the mutilated plants, my husband cornered one aging, scruffy gopher and dispatched it with his shovel.
The other one continued to eat our plants but was too wise to linger in shovel range. Isaac discovered both opening to his hole, and placed a garden hose down one end while he waited at the other. When he turned on the hose, the gopher rushed out of the hole to Isaac’s waiting shovel. That ended the devastation of last year’s plants.
This year’s groundhog is young and persistent. He discovered my garden early in the season and has been visiting it several times a day. He is quick and difficult to surprise with a shovel, and his borrow is buried in the brush behind our house. Normal fences, unless buried at least a foot underground, do not deter this burrower.
So, we decided to put in an electric fence. The family who owned our house before us left an electric fence which they used to contain their Saint Bernard. (They also left us a keg of light beer but not the stove and washing machine.) Isaac set up the fence with three wires two inches apart.
During the next week, neither the groundhog nor the cat entered the garden. Then, I suppose the vermin began running through the wires as quickly as he could. He might feel a twinge but he could also nibble one Swiss Chard.
Two days ago, we increased the voltage. The fence was very weak before but now it’s much more powerful — strong enough to contain cattle. It’s your move now, groundhog. Will you concede defeat or does need his shovel and hose again?