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Gopher Wars

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The onions were ready; the sight of those pretties filled me with delight. Soon we would be feasting upon the red-skinned beauties.

Then a critter weighing less than a pound exposed my dark side.

The garden had been carefully planned: raised beds, with bottoms of thick wire to discourage any underground intruders, held rich loam. The anticipation of the garden's bounty made weeding bearable. And then one morning I discovered a half-eaten onion next to a gopher burrow.

This was war. I brought our two cats to the battle zone. "Look," I pointed to the mounds. "Gopher. Bad. Gopher. Yummy." Both cats sniffed the evidence, and then stared at me as if to say, "Can we go indoors now and eat some nice kibble?" I've seen slugs move faster than those two.

Daily, another half-eaten onion, and I'd read gophers disliked onions. I collected remedies, perused gardening books. I searched online. I planted gopher spurge. I stuffed used cat litter down the holes; I poured cayenne down as well. I collected hair from the salon. Castor bean oil guaranteed to roust the devil went full strength down the burrow. I ran the hose down each offending opening and watched as water bubbled up 20 feet away.


And each day another onion gone. A neighbor swore by Ex-Lax. I bought enough to unbind the digestive systems of the whole county, never mind one gopher.

I became a raving lunatic, bent on the removal of this creature. I was even willing to compromise: It could have the lawn; just leave me my garden. I didn't necessarily want the rodent dead, I just wanted it to move to a different neighborhood. I prayed to the snake god, though logically I knew no self- respecting snake would enter a hole filled with Ex-Lax, used cat litter, cayenne pepper, castor oil and hair, even if the prize was a gopher on steroids.

In the end I did what most gardeners do: I planted more. And I became acquainted with negative aspects of my personality: I was the basest, vilest person around, imagining the removal of one of earth's creatures.

Don't even get me started on tomato worms.

With a Perspective, I'm Judie Rae.

Judie Rae lives in Nevada City, along with one at least one escape-artist gopher that still likes onions.

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