Groundhog Suzie, Groundhog Sam,
Do the jitterbug out in groundhog land,
And they shimmy,
And Sammie’s not skinny.
I was sitting on our screened-in porch yesterday reading a book. This porch is at the back right corner of our house and can be accessed from our deck that spans the width of our house, or from a door from our bedroom. Because our house is built on a hill, the deck at this point is second-story height and provides a nice, almost tree-house view of the surrounding woods below.
I heard them before I saw them. The groundhogs make a lot of noise as they run through the bed of dried leaves in the woods. They were across the creek and one was chasing the other. When he caught her they tumbled together and then she got away and he chased her again. I know enough about the birds and the bees to be able to figure out what they were up to.
The last time she got away, she slid down the opposite creek bank, came across and went over to the tree where I had photographed them before. I stood up so I could see better. I was hoping to see her disappear into a hole or den down there somewhere.
She was aware of me because every time I moved she froze until I froze, and then she went about her business. So even though she knew I was there, she wasn’t too worried about me. She probably thinks she is one of the family. She started picking up dried leaves in her mouth until she had about five or six—a whole mouthful.
Ha! I thought. I’m going to see where she’s making her nest.
Then she trotted into our grass, along the creek and up the hill at the opposite end of our house where the deck stairs are.
I’m caught in a moral dilemma of risking Arthur’s safety or destroying the hard work and home of a mother creature. So I rationalize:
1. I think the groundhogs are using a space that is actually up and under the stairs if you are standing below, (which I’m never doing because it is dug out of the ground, it is dirty, spiders, snakes, need I say more?). From what I can see standing outside, it looks something like a crawl space in a basement. I don’t think Arthur can actually get in to where they are. He can only sniff around their porch.
2. Arthur is very quick. I’m not sure he could win any long-distance race, but he is very good at dodging. I challenge anyone to catch him when he doesn’t want to be caught.
3. Arthur has been trained in animal warfare using “monkies” —his stuffed dog-toy animals some of which look more like a giraffe, a beaver, and an alligator.
4. Mark is trying to train Arthur to stay out of there by scaring the bejeebies out of him every time he even thinks about it.
5. Mark has a system of placing bricks on the ground blocking the hole entrances, which are simple work for the groundhogs to move, but Arthur hasn’t figured out how, leading me to believe the groundhogs are either much stronger or smarter than Arthur, or both.
6. We can watch Arthur when he is outside. He never goes in there when he is being watched—he is at least that smart.
The only way to get rid of the critters is to call a service to come and trap them. They undoubtedly wouldn’t both get caught at the same time I just don’t have the heart to do it.
I hope this has a happy ending.