Gary the Groundhog
Gary the Groundhog, as I named him, was a royal pain in the ass for a couple years. He
terrorized the dogs, dug under and squeezed his colossal body through fences with
2-inch size gaps and even bullied the fox that used to hang out beneath my side kitchen
window facing the woods. Gary is one of the few moving targets that I missed shooting.
The first year I gave up, staked tomatoes to grow about 6-feet tall and allowed Gary to
eat all those closer to the ground. We still had lots for ourselves.
Then the second year, I foolishly did my research on how to outsmart Gary. A fence
went up around the garden, and the small link-type-but-stronger-than-chicken-wire fence
went down close to two feet underground as well.
Around the fence on the outside, I planted flowers that Gary and his always growing
family disliked, such as lillies, nicotiana, marigolds, nasturtiums, snapdragons, dahlias
and the perennials, sedum and verbascum. It seemed to work. He was eating away next
door at my neighbor's garden, but not mine. Then Gary and his family disappeared for
about a month after my neighbor dumped contents of his kitty litter box down the hole in
the ground where Gary lived. My neighbor was shouting like a wild man, asking if I
knew what the life expectancy of a groundhog is, as he filled Gary's home with the fowl
smelling kitty litter mess.
The third year, my neighbor planted no outdoor garden and I was pregnant and didn't
plant as many of the annual flowers in with the perennials around the garden fence. Gary
climbed up the four-foot chain link fence that divided our yards, onto my neighbor's
garage roof and over the top down into the corner of my fenced-in garden. He scaled
down a pole staking a tomato and entered a state of nirvana. When he was done with his
feast, he climbed over my garden fence with a full belly and waddled back home.
The second morning after another of his entries from the garage roof into my garden, I
waited him out. I was a pregnant woman possessed, craving the very green beans that
Gary ruined and ate. I opened the side kitchen window, removed the full screen and
steadied my elbow on the windowsill overlooking the woods and Gary's home. I didn't
miss my target that time.
The next and last year that I had an outdoor garden there, I bought some kind of castor
bean oil groundhog repellent advertised with a money back guarantee. It was in pellet
form and was said to be environmentally friendly and safe to other animals, even if
ingested. The baby groundhogs ran away from it and didn't enter the back yard, but
Gary Jr. seemed to delight in smirking at it and me for thinking it would stop him. So I
decided to spare myself the hassle. Contrary to whatever anyone may think, groundhogs
are much smarter than people.
As we built the little greenhouse out back and tended to the last in-ground garden there, I
prepared a plate most mornings with some good and rotted veggies and added pieces of
wilted petunias and other wilted flowers that I plucked from the plants during my
morning tea on the porch. I dumped the plate far away from the garden at the start of
my yard and Gary Jr. ate well and waddled back home. I didn't shoot him since he then
usually stayed away from the garden and didn't terrorize the dogs and wildlife as his old
However, I did shoot him the next year after he busted down through the greenhouse
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