Heeere, Mr. Gopher…

Warning:  This article contains graphic descriptions from an active zone of conflict.  It may be disturbing for sensitive readers.

Tensions were high as hostilities escalated this week in the West Garden.  In the past two weeks of conflict, dozens of innocent carrots and potatoes have lost their lives.  This week the death of two promising young head lettuce plants caused me to declare a jihad against pocket gophers.

After a brief attempt at mediation last week, negotiations broke down when the gophers walked away from the table.  (It so happened the table was appetizingly laid with Warfarin, but I see no reason to let facts get in the way of a dramatic story.)

The point is, I offered the gophers the opportunity to vacate the disputed territory or die an honourable death on their own terms, and they refused to do either.

This week, I found more impudent gopher mounds and more dead vegetables.  And I got serious.

I’m beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Caddyshack.  I laughed when he sculpted a squirrel out of plastic explosive. I thought his deranged expression was funny.

Little did I know that this week, I’d feel that expression on my own face.  And I’d be seriously wondering how he procured the C4.

However, I’d like to think I’m still slightly saner than to blow my entire garden to hell just for sake of eradicating some pocket gophers.  I went with a subtler method:  poison gas.

Gassing gophers was a whole new experience for me.  Growing up on the farm, the rifle was always handy by the back door if we needed to get rid of animal pests.  (Yes, those were the days before gun control.)  So it was with trepidation that I read the warnings and instructions on the packet of innocuous-looking little cylinders.

The instructions helpfully described how to find the horseshoe-shaped mound that indicated the location of the main burrow, and provided all sorts of useful advice about the danger of burns and poison gas inhalation.  Hooray.

But I was a woman on the edge.  This was a Holy War.  Nothing would stop me.

I found the burrow.  I dug down and identified the direction of the tunnel.  I donned my heavy leather gloves (to prevent burns) and ascertained the direction of the wind (to prevent gassing myself).

I test-fitted the cartridge in the tunnel to make sure I wouldn’t smother the fuse when I put it in…

And nearly shit my pants when I lit the first fuse.

You know how in the cartoons, the fuse makes this hissing, spitting noise and sprays a rooster-tail of sparks?  You know how the cartoon characters get all freaked out when the flame zips along the fuse ‘way faster than they expected?

It was exactly like that.

Turns out they only guarantee a minimum of five seconds on the fuse.  I spent approximately two of those seconds gaping at the smoking, spitting cylinder of death in my hand before stuffing it in the tunnel, shoving dirt over top and running like hell.

All in all, it went exactly as planned, but with a good deal more adrenaline.

I won’t know until next week whether I got him.  But if I find more mounds, I’ll have no choice but to go Rambo on his ass.

So if you see a deranged-looking middle-aged woman standing out in her garden at sunrise armed with a compound bow and broadhead-tipped arrows, just smile, nod, and back away slowly.

Heeere, Mr. Gopher…

15 thoughts on “Heeere, Mr. Gopher…

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  3. God, you reminded me of my sister and her vegetable garden, and the one woodchuck that never failed to get her corn on the exact day it was ripe, one after the other, and she tried various harassing and/or aversion methods for a few weeks and finally borrowed a shotgun and let fly with the thing in the middle of the night, after doing stake-out…there was woodchuck shrapnel everywhere. Unprecedented activity for a Democratic family.


    • LOL! We gardeners are a dangerous and unpredictable bunch. And I totally agree with your beleaguered sister. It hurts to lose carrots and potatoes, but losing fresh, sweet corn? NOT an option. Even Democrats have their breaking point.


  4. Seriously excellent, Diane. Kind of missed that little 5 second safety tip off the instructions, eh? On the plus side adrenaline is good for you every now and then. Sounds like you’ve had enough for a few months! You need a t-shirt: “I’m in gopher disposal. If you see me running, try to keep up.”



  5. hahahaha! you make me laugh! 😀 I’m glad you managed to bury that cylinder AND run in 3 seconds! Hmm…no thoughts of becoming an Olympian sorts? Track and field? 100 meter dash? THREE seconds! that’s amazing to me…it takes me that long to get up..hehe


  6. Ha ha–I would have paid a fine price to see that! Good luck (although I’m sure the squirrel feels otherwise). We have problems with deer and bunnies eating our flowers. And we live within city limits. But I guess the deer figure they were here before us, and so I can’t really blame them.


    • Yes, we ran 350 feet of 8-foot-high fencing around our garden to keep the deer out, but didn’t plan for pocket gophers. Ironically, in the days before we had the fence, the deer didn’t really do too much damage – nowhere near the destruction the gophers have caused.

      Hopefully by next year, we’ll get the barriers dug into the soil to keep the gophers out and my murderous impulses in check. I’d much rather fence them out than kill them, but at the rate they’re going, there won’t be anything left… and we usually harvest enough potatoes and carrots to last us all winter and through to the next year’s harvest. Grrr.


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