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…