Monday, April 15, 2013

Groundhog Woes—The Saga Continues

“Cozy Burrow Available
Beautiful neighborhood amid lush vegetable gardens.
The perfect home for your growing family.
Ready to move in – you need only dig your own tunnels.
50 Gordonhurst Ave.”

I’m convinced that ad is circulating within the local groundhog population. Why else would I find yet another groundhog happily grazing under our pear tree only weeks after we evicted another pair? I had felt badly about sending them away. They were a charming couple. I know they were enjoying the new spring grass of our backyard and I’m certain they intended to raise a family there. But we told them, “The backyard is open to you, but not our house.”

We are not mean landlords. Our backyard is a certified wildlife habitat. There’s a big black walnut stump by the back fence under which other groundhogs and even raccoons have enjoyed residing. As long as they stay out of my vegetable garden they are welcome there. I’ve seen them happily munching clover leaves and the partially eaten pears that the squirrels throw down from the tree.

But our house is not a wildlife habitat. They are absolutely not welcome to settle in under the sunroom. We’ve stuffed rocks in their tunnels and placed boards over the foot-wide area of earth that runs next to the house along the driveway, and pegged down chicken wire over where my beautiful irises and a peony should be growing, had the previous tenants had not dug them up. As a last resort, we threw several ounces of mothballs into the crawl space before screening in the small access opening. That was a big mistake!  Who would have imagined that the entire house would reek of camphor? Only the sunroom is atop the crawl space. But each morning when we awaken we notice the smell. Every time we re-enter the house we say, “Mothballs, yuck!”

Yet in spite of our inconvenienced living with the odor, that new groundhog attempted to dig its way under the back stairs in hopes of becoming our new tenant. It was the rocks we stuffed there that stopped his tunneling, not the smell. When I surprised him by opening the back door while he was munching grass, he ran behind the garage into our neighbor’s yard and under their Jacuzzi.  So they might have to deal with him now. I won’t suggest mothballs.

Today I put on my grubbiest painting clothes and removed the screen covering the crawl space “window.”  I crawled in and picked up every last mothball. They will go out with the garbage tonight. We’ve opened windows and burned incense. Now if only I knew how to advertise “No Vacancy” to the groundhog grapevine.