Friday, August 31, 2012
Rural Crime Part 3: The Usual Suspects
We fight a never-ending and ultimately unwinnable struggle against nature here, much more so, I suspect, than in Britain, which has long been tamed. “We’re the animals in the zoo, not the reverse,” hubby once remarked, when we looked out to find the house surrounded by whitetail deer.
Another day, after we'd returned from a trip, I went out onto the front porch, only to see a large American rodent, a woodchuck, waddling around as though he owned the place. Oblivious in his wanderings, he came right up to my feet, then looked up, did a shocked double-take and waddled off as fast as his legs could carry him. Except he was so fat that it wasn't very fast. Woodchucks, at this time of year, are very fat indeed.
There is a word around here for nuisance animals: varmints. And a woodchuck is your typical varmint, eating crops and plants and digging networks of sizeable holes. A whole section of our garden is an intricate cave network we've dubbed, "Woodchuck City". A friend 's barn nearly fell down after a woodchuck burrowed under the foundations. Farmers and gardeners loathe them. But I have to confess I have a soft spot for them. They are always either running away from something or lying squashed in the road. And they apparently perform a useful purpose as the navvies of the animal kingdom, the holes they've dug making useful shelters for such as can't dig for themselves. They deserve a break. I might add that woodchucks are also known as groundhogs and have their moment of glory in February - on which more at a later date.