My Two Gophers


Now before you tell me that gophers are solitary creatures and that I only have one gopher, let me explain that I have a little beach house with a gopher and my regular house with a gopher.

I am an Iowa girl, living in California. So both houses were bought because of the property that goes with them. I like big yards. There’s Iowa big, and there’s California big. Iowa big is bigger, since not as many people live there and the land is not as valuable per square foot.

Houses for sale in California are advertised with their lot sizes as measured per square foot.  The new houses have postage-stamp-sized lots – about 6000 sq. ft. Land is at a premium since there are more people than cows in California. I am not making fun of Iowa. It’s a thing, more cows than people back home.

Last night on the news, the map showed that Iowa is one of the last hold-outs without mandatory shelter in place for the Covid 19 catastrophe. You can’t get Coronoavirus from a cow. Or a pig. Or corn.

But I digress.

My beach gopher burrowed its way under my fence and made itself at home in my front yard. My lab, Pepper, dug her way to China (almost) trying to get that gopher. Since my front yard is basically sand, it was an easy dig. Kelly (my Girl Friday) had to fill up the big hole with chunks of old concrete from a flower bed and then sand on top to keep Pepper from doing it again.

My regular house has a gopher in the front yard, the back yard, and the side yard. It moved in this winter and left tell-tale piles of dirt all over the place. All my plants were planted in gopher cages. Over the years I’ve lost many plants and a couple of small planted trees to gophers.

There are ways to kill a gopher, but then a new gopher will just move in. I live next to a park which is filled with gopher holes. Gophers are smart, sneaky, and persistent, kind of like rats. I have those, too. At least at my regular house.

My contractor built me a wooden lattice screen last year, right up against my side fence. Guess what? It’s a perfect place for a rat to hide behind. Daisy sits at that screen all day long, staring down that rat. She can’t get to it, nor can I. We both know it’s there with a bunch of baby rats, I’m sure (it turned out to be a big lizard with lots of babies).

This morning, as I was multitasking with a Tupperware pitcher filled with bird food in one hand and some Windex and paper towels in the other, I headed out the sliding glass door, stopped to wash the doggie nose prints off of it, and as I bent over to do the bottom, I spilled some bird food on to the wipe-your-feet mat.

Dang it, Susan! Pay attention! One thing at a time!

That has never been my way. I scolded myself, filled up the bird feeder with the remaining bird seed, came back inside, stepping over the spilled bird seed.

Since I am stuck at home, sheltering in place, I will watch that bird seed today and see if the rat comes out from behind the lattice screen (it won’t because it’s a lizard). If so, Daisy will have a shot at it.  If not, Mr. Squirrel will surely clean up the bird seed mess (but not Mrs. Lizard because she’d rather eat bugs). Or the tiny birds that flit from tree to tree and watering can to watering can.

We shall see. It is war with Mrs. Rat, who can have up to 200 babies a year.

In comparison the gopher is looking pretty benign.

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