doodle by andre: on special in my produce aisle

IDON’T THINK THIS DOODLE by the inspirational and eccentric Andre Jordan needs much explanation, except perhaps to say that the only creature not in line for legumes like peas and beans here this year at my seasonal supermarket/vegetable garden has been Margaret. Sigh. Five baited Havahart traps outside all week again…and so far the count: 1 squirrel, 1 chipmunk, 0 woodchucks, countless tunnels. I seem to be on a roll with the smaller rodents (whom I wasn’t hoping to catch!), but the biggest of ground squirrels, the rodent supreme–Marmota monax as he is known in taxonomic circles–has no interest in cooperating with the law of the land. Damn.

  1. Terryk says:

    Five traps and nothing! Too bad that deer fence could not do double duty and keep them at bay. Sounds like you need to do something or come next spring they could be kicking you out of the house and taking up permanent residence. Wonder what they would have to say each Monday on your podcast?

  2. Meredith says:

    We also have woodchuck issues. So far the only ones we’ve caught in the Havahart traps are young. Those were relocated many miles from here no where near anyone else’s home/garden. I’ve even tried baiting the traps with whole heads of cauliflower which didn’t tempt the adults although they had no problem eating a whole row of my prized heads in the garden. Sigh…….

  3. Susan Stewart says:

    The dog got 1 woodchuck the other night. That ‘s 1 down 100s to go. I gave up on the garden when all the grean beans, limas, and swiss chard disappeared. They even ate all the leaves from the okra plants. Our trap also is consistantly empty.

  4. margaret says:

    I feel your pain too- I caught 1 (a baby I think his siblings pushed him in) with really over ripe canatelope.The mama is huge now- fattening up for winter? I really need to catch her but so far no luck…

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Susan. I caught yet another skunk yesterday. The woodchuck is laughing at me…though a very big red fox did spend the afternoon here yesterday, so I’m wondering if woodchuck is on the menu at his house. :)

      Hi, Margaret. Over-ripe cantaloupe is a great bait, I agree. I was doing well with fruit earlier on in the season…but now…damn.

  5. Carol says:

    Something just dug up a six ft by six ft patch of my grass last night, turning over big clumps. Grrrrrr! I wish Andre would come and stand guard!

  6. Margit Van Schaick says:

    A gardening friend had 5 woodchucks feasting on her small urban veggie garden. She finally grew desperate (she really needed the harvest from the garden to feed herself because she was having difficulty making ends meet), desperate enough to hire the local “woodchuck terminator”, who shot them one by one. It was a grueling , wrenching experience for my friend (and vicariously for me, for I had to listen to herdescribe the ordeal) but the end result was her own hard-won survival, able to eat nutritious produce once the voracious predators were gone. Joan Gussow , in her wonderful book This Organic Life describes her own experience along this line of doing what is necessary when it’s necessary. Unfortunately, even a single woodchuck can devastate an otherwise productive garden.

  7. Margit Van Schaick says:

    P.S. Having difficulty making ends meet is not the sole justification for killing the woodchucks–how about having nutritious, unsprayed and unpoisoned food , grown by you in good soil? Cooking from your organic garden is wonderful for your health and one pf life’s great pleasures, as well!

  8. Smallpeace says:

    Yikes! We just spied our first woodchuck at Smallpeace and were delighted. I’m still a giddy urban kid who delights in any Mutual of Omaha sightings. Last winter we had a visit from a mamma bobcat and two adolescent kits. Glorious! (But I digress). Said woodchuck has bedded down under our potting shed and mocks us with regular, bold appearances. Since we have yet to cultivate anything but a small herb garden and a few tomato plants, is there any other harm in him/her being there? Please advise.

  9. Jayne says:

    When I gardened on a larger property – 4 acres with about 12 acres of conserved land around us, the wood chucks had plenty of room to tunnel and feast without damage to my gardens. A couple beagles and labradors taught them to use their space wisely, but now that I am closer in to the town on just 2 acres, woodchuck have done much damage. Small fences have not kept them away (they climb!) but next year I will get serious with the fencing. I could not kill them but I understand the rage they can instill! One of my blogs showed the damage they did to my dahlia beds! I have a big vole problem emerging (submerging), and would like to bring back my beagle Nick from dog heaven – he knew how to dig out voles!

  10. Kimberley says:

    I am plagued by woodchucks here in NE Pennsylvania, too! I absolutely have to have a fence around my garden, or I would have no vegetables. I have largely learned which flowers they will leave alone, but there are no absolutes! The things I treasure most have to be grown in pots up on my elevated porches.

    Unfortunately, the whole neighborhood is full of them, so even if I were to trap and move mine, another one would just move in! I got very excited one morning when I saw a fox cross our lawn, but I guess it was just passing through, and not very hungry!

    I have slowly learned to (mostly) peacefully co-exist with the creatures. If I didn’t, I would be completely insane!

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Kimberley. The fox is a good omen, to be sure. I had a big one here this week, sleeping right in the tall grass where the woodchuck feeds at midday. Weird. Hope they meet up. :)

      Yes, Brian G., you are right. And thanks for considering Jack’s feelings. The other possibility is a G-U-N, but I don’t think I’m cut out for that.

  11. Laura K. says:

    Hi, Margaret

    It’s so weird that your previous post mentions a g-u-n, something that I’m not so keen on either…but the human raising veggies versus animal eating veggies situation reminded me of a book by Chris Bohjalian…It’s called “Before You Know Kindness”.
    Ever read it? One of the main characters is a devout vegetarian who is in charge of a PETA-like group, and then he gets mad at some deer eating his veggies…it starts to become more interesting….http://www.chrisbohjalian.com/beforeyouknowkindness.html

    Happy Monday!

  12. Lizzy says:

    Love your blog!

    I have tried baiting with Broccoli and it has worked very well. My problem has always been what to do with them after they are caught.

    Good Luck!

  13. John Messenger says:

    We had woodchucks for several years and went through the thought
    Stages: Cute furry animals, have a heart traps, success and then
    Failure with same. Finally found the holes of underground nests and
    used rodent smoke bombs. Ask a farmer. They know how.
    Hated doing it but they were destroying our gardens for years.

  14. Susan Mitchell says:

    I tolerated a mama woodchuck living under our shed for a number of years. Then, when she had babies, it was too much. The Have a Heart traps did not work for them (and it is illegal to move them anyway in our neck of the woods). My husband went online and found an ‘instant’ kill trap that he placed in one of the entry holes and it did the trick. It is not an easy trap to set (takes a lot of strength) but it is effective. I wish I didn’t have to get rid of them, but when they eat all of your hard work, well…………

  15. Rick in MA says:

    I have a woodchuck…and when he/she sees me walk out the back door…he stops…looks at me like “HaHa” and then runs into the brush! UGH. I need to get out the Havahart. Try fruits that are a “little gone by”…I find my chickens like those pieces even better…might work with the w-chucks.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Susan and Rick and John. Sounds like you all know the tribulations of life with woodchucks! Illegal to move them here, too (I have to pay a licensed trapper to do the relocating) and yes, as Susan says, many people here use traps that kill them, called Conibear traps. Either way, I am growing weary of the whole thing at the moment, as you can tell. :) Not sure what’s “right,” but as John says, they don’t play nice with a garden.

  16. Marcy says:

    10 years ago I got a dog to help with my dawning groundhog problem. Here we are now, on our second dog and having lost significant ground (so to speak).
    For many years I have spent Good Friday with a few neighbors gas bombing any holes that I have noticed footprints by in the late Spring snow.
    One neighbors daughter thinks I am the anti-christ for trying to kill the “cute little animals” (she doesn’t like me to pull weeds either) . We were not allowed to gas the holes on their land. Now you can go along out fence line and see a swiss cheese of holes. I fear the little hill we live on is riddled with chambers and escape routes.
    The one we did catch we put dead back in their hole. But the message was lost.
    Now I have had to agree to my husband that I will not spend another penny growing food for the groundhogs,if he will give it one more chance by putting up an electric fence. It has helped. But I’m not telling him about the tomatoes I have started to see in recent weeks with one bite out of them.
    This summer I relocated 9 red squirrels and 29 chipmunks. I read that the groundhogs invite them to room with them over the winter.
    I am this far from poisoning all of them. seriously. Marcy

  17. Dennis R says:

    i have a very simple mathematical equation…

    1 Margaret + .22 caliber scoped rifle = 0 woodchucks. it’s worked for me everytime!

    Good luck,

  18. Carol says:

    Margaret: What do you do with the wild creatures when caught in the trap? I also am plagued with 5 raccoons, 1 woodchuck, a skunk, and God knows what else!

  19. Margit Van Schaick says:

    In some old gardening books, I’ve seen examples of some folks inventing small-sreened cages for specific plants, to protect them from the variable predators–rabbits, etc., etc. I’ve been wondering, reading the Comments, whether this could be a new niche gardening business? The more I consider it, the more inspired I feel about starting such a “Plant Protection” business! I don’t mind sharing a reasonable amount of the produce with wild creatures, but they do not seem to have any clue about moderation! Particularly heartbreaking is the “one bite out of seemingly every tomato”! BTW there’s no such problem with my 3elevated 4×8 garden beds: I highly recommend these as a reliable source of salad fixings, herbs, etc. One additional note: the one bite syndrome seems especially prevalent during periods of drought, as if the creatures were thirsty.

  20. Linda says:

    I live in northeastern PA and we have plenty of groundhogs. We always had luck baiting the Havahart trap with mulberry leaves (with or without berries). They can’t resist.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Linda. Mulberry leaves! Who knew? I don’t have any mulberry trees here, but it might be worth growing one if it makes great bait for my non-friends. :)

  21. Lisa says:

    As a wildlife-friendly gardener, I’d like to welcome woodchucks. As a vegetable gardener, I’ve trapped a few in past growing seasons and have another to nab, if I’m to have any fall greens, aside from chives.

    Margaret, I finished your book this afternoon — excellent and honest. There are many of us that looking for something new, and a creative reinvention. I’ve been fortunate to be in the academic world for most of my working career, but exiting to graduation is a good thing.


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