Go Back to Punxsutawney, Phil!
Monica and I have been homeowners for a little over two years now. Last summer, we found that our backyard was also the home of a groundhog. This wasn’t like the cartoons where the creature is digging a million holes in the yard and I’m forced to use dynamite in an effort to get rid of it. Instead it burrowed under the small shed attached to the back of the house where we keep the lawn mower. We didn’t notice it at first because a bush had grown in front of it. After trimming the bush back, the hole was exposed. My father-in-law lent me a rodent trap to catch the groundhog, but I never had to use it as he seemed to disappear after his home was out in the open. It’s fortunate for him because as my father-in-law explained, since the groundhog is a rodent, I couldn’t just let him free somewhere. I’d have to kill it, most likely by drowning it in the stream in the backyard. I shoveled some dirt in front of the hole and forgot about it.
Fast forward to this summer where the groundhog had returned. The hole was dug up again and we’d see him hanging out in the backyard. I put more dirt in front of the hole and he dug it out. I put a large piece of cement that was once under a gutter on the side of the house there and he dug under it. Then a couple weeks ago, Monica and I saw him in the backyard. I had no shoes on, so I threw on some flip flops, grabbed a shovel, and ran out the side door. In hindsight, I have no idea what I was planning to do when I got out there. Was I going to challenge the groundhog to battle or a digging contest? I don’t know.
Anyway, I crept along the side of the house and came between the hole and the groundhog. Meanwhile, Monica opened up the porch door and startled the rodent. He turned and saw me standing in the path to his safe haven. He started running; taking a wide berth around a small tree near the patio in an effort to come around me. Instinctively, I took a wild swing with the shovel and managed to hit the groundhog in the side with it, but it didn’t stop and continued on, presumably into the hole. I grabbed a large rock and wedged it into the hole it had dug under the cement piece, then kicked a bunch of dirt on top of the hole thing. Again, this seems crazy in hindsight because it’s a groundhog. It could dig around this stuff, no?
Then I started to hear a noise in the bush next to the shed. Could it be? Did he miss the hole? After poking the shovel at both ends of the bush, I found that the groundhog did indeed overshoot his hole, most likely due to the fact that I hit him with a shovel. This went on for two or more turns before I saw the groundhog jet out from the bush, run under the porch, and keep going down the stream. I heard him running for awhile. I scared him away from his home.
It’s now been several weeks since my duel with the groundhog. The rocks and dirt I put in front of the hole have remained undisturbed. I don’t know what happened to the groundhog after he ran off, but at least I didn’t have to drown him in the stream.