Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Caught in the headlights...

Caught in the headlights...
The author of Mark's Work, at the botanical gardens inFort Bragg...

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Brought to you in Three-Bee...

At the coast

At the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Tomatoes are what's up. Sooooo close...

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
"You put your left foot out..."

July Jewels

July Jewels
Bees to the Kingdom

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland
My first time growing these lovelies....

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Great White Hunter

Make no mistake: Battle lines have been drawn in the dirt. I’d say, “May the better man win,” but I’ll be gall-darned if I’ll wish a gopher good luck. Good riddance, is more like it. They’re mini land-sharks, criss-crossing the farm in their subterranean subway systems, ripping and slashing through the fruits of my efforts, in the worst Jason/Freddy style imaginable.

As I inserted bamboo into the ground around each of the cannabis plants this week, in order to provide support for individual branches, I felt the ‘boo slip through tunnel after tunnel. You know how it is: I am applying pressure to jam the ‘boo as far into the soft and fluffy, prepared soil as I can, when all of the sudden it breaks free and drops several inches before coming into contact with soil again.

Tunnel City.

Fortunately, the cannabis plants are far too well established to be harmed (at least as far as the eye can tell), but my squash and tomato plants are not. I must confess to watching the squash plants being methodically executed, over the past couple of weeks, without getting too excited. After all, there is summer squash in abundance up at HeadSodBuster’s spot, and we have been eating it twice a day for weeks now.
X marks the spot: You can see the cultivator
right in the center of the photo...

However, when it comes to my tomato plants, I see red, both literally and metaphorically. In other words, instead of whining about it, I actually went out to the greenhouse, found the one gopher trap we have, and then went into action.

Of course, I had to figure out how it worked first, carefully. After a somewhat hazardous self-training course, lasting fifteen minutes, I successfully mastered the intricate details, digits intact.
You say to-ma-toes; I say to-mah-toes and we're
both speaking the same language.

I had donned my work gloves before I touched the trap; that’s Rule Number One: Check your scent at the door. I took trap in hand and headed out to the orchard. I located the tunnel, carefully dug the earth out as best as I could from each of the tunnel entrances, and set the trap in place, facing west.

Since I did not know from which direction the little miscreants would come, I arbitrarily chose west, figuring if I had no success at first, I would reverse it so the trap faced east. I was bound and determined to leave nothing to chance.

The last time I saw Chance, he was passed out on the floor.

I covered the entire situation with straw, so as to block out the light, and when all was in readiness, I backed away from the scene, confident that when I returned, a celebration would be in order. The one thing I had forgotten to do was tie a string of some sort to the trap, so that when the little villain got snared, it couldn’t manage to flee down his tunnel, while dragging my trap behind him.

Nonetheless, I left things as they were, and did not return for 24 hours. When I did, I found the whole scene in the state of dirt. Gone was any semblance of a tunnel, and I had to use the ‘boo to even find the trap. OK, so I lost round one, but was all geared up for the next go-round. At least there were no more stricken tomato plants.

I reset the trap after moving about three feet to the right to find an undisturbed section of the tunnel. This time I placed an ancient piece of plywood, about a foot square, over the hole and covered it with dirt. Because I had had to dig the plywood out of the soil in the first place, hopefully it would not seem too foreign to the little jabonies. I also remembered to tie a piece of twine to the trap, and my cultivator to the other end, so the trap could not be dragged away.

I am going to check it first thing when it starts to get light out, and if I have not been successful, then I will move three feet to the left of the original trap, and try again. Additionally, BossLady was here at dinner last night, and she informed me that she had more traps up at her spot.

Reinforcements!

Though no kills have yet been recorded, I am confident that I will prevail. The good news is that so far, there have been no additional casualties from the ranks of the tomatoes.

Last year, in this same orchard, I had a mere forty tomato plants to begin with, and I lost ten to the gophers, so that’s one-fourth. This year I have more than 120 plants out in the orchard, at least ten different varieties. If I were to lose one-fourth again, it would be hideous, but I would still be in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in, with ninety remaining.

On the other hand, if I were to have to watch thirty plants get sucked into the earth, I would probably start tunneling myself, in order to track the little varmints down. They don’t call me the Great White Hunter for nothing.


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