Allow me to introduce you to our barn’s largest full-time resident…our groundhog.
Our barn is a good 150 years old, and, although it has been renovated as an historic building, it has holes. There’s just no more polite way to put it, really. Holes in the windows, holes in the walls, and, most pertinent to this discussion, holes in the floors.
We have a groundhog who lives under the barn, and who uses the holes in the floors to come topside at night to forage. This has been a perfectly harmonious situation, for the most part. The chicken coop is secure from his meanderings, and, while he might be interested in eggs (to which he has no access), I don’t believe he has ambitions to take on grown chickens.
Yes, there was the time I went to open the interior coop door in the morning, and turned around to discover a newly-purchased, unopened, 15-pound bag of mixed seed, intended for treats, had…disappeared. Vanished. In all seriousness, I stood there for a good five minutes wondering if I’d imagined the entire purchasing experience. Poof. It was gone, as though it had never existed. There was no seed and no plastic bag.
It wasn’t until the next day (and the mystery had been driving me mad) that I walked down the other barn hallway to find evidence that the entire bag had been dragged, intact, in totum, down the chicken coop hallway, around the tractor, across the showroom floor, into the other barn hallway, under the stairs which lead to the second floor, and, only then, opened and half consumed. The remainder of the seed was wastefully spread on the surrounding floor. The evidence suggested that our groundhog had stuffed himself to capacity.
Now, I had been careless. Truly stupid. Of course the groundhog was going to help himself to treats left out. That’s not his fault; it’s mine, and there have been other occasions when I have forgotten to secure yummies and he has scored. That’s fair.
For the most part, however, I have kept edibles out of his reach. The feed is kept in a galvinised garbage bin, and the cracked corn and sunflower seeds are currently kept in those plastic storage bins with locking tops. Not perfectly secure, but the system has been working.
Our groundhog has upped his game. Each morning, I have found the plastic bin containing the sunflower seeds dragged out into the center of the walkway. On a couple of occasions, he has benefited when I have forgotten to secure some feed. And, most mysteriously, the water jug has been tipped over and empty, each and every morning.
I had thought the jug was collateral damage, in the way of more tempting targets. I was wrong. I moved it under my chair to keep it out of the way one evening to find it tipped and emptied the next morning. Then, it dawned on me.
We are on the verge of drought here. We haven’t had proper rain in a very long time, and there’s none in the foreseeable future. The grass is crunchy, I’m watering our vegetable garden daily, and giving the chickens access to water is critical. It’s bad; the weeds are dead.
The groundhog is thirsty.
So, and I swear this is true, I have been leaving the groundhog a dish of water outside the coop at night. Hey, at least I still have water in the jug in the morning. You would think that this act of kindness would provide me with immunity from further acts of gastronomical vandalism. You would be wrong.
The bin holding 25 pounds of sunflower seeds has a lid which merely clicks closed, and, frankly, I’ve been amazed he hasn’t pried it open. Two nights ago, he did. And then, yesterday, one of the snap handles sealing closed the plastic bin holding 50 pounds of cracked corn broke in my hands, rendering the bin vulnerable. Both bins were now at his mercy. Clearly, I need new bins. Better bins. Metal bins.
Aye, here’s the rub: I am in that four-day no man’s land between the rental car that was provided when I was rear-ended and my car totaled, and the replacement car we pick up in a few days. No can shop. Must improvise.
Both bins needed immediate protection, so I placed the bin holding 25 pounds of sunflower seeds on top of the bin holding 50 pounds of corn (securing the corn), and I placed a very heavy circular saw on top of both. There was no way the groundhog would be able to lift the lid on either container. I went to bed feeling quite smug.
This morning, on walking down the coop hallway and reaching the interior coop door, I found this:
The little…rascal (and I had something else typed there before editing myself)…had ripped off the handle to the sunflower seed bin. Like…off. Now, don’t be too impressed; it was already cracked. But, still.
Which brings me to today’s post heading. I have no idea how I’ll secure the seed tonight, but secure it I will.
You may be asking yourself, why not just get rid of the dang groundhog? A trap, a gun, and your problems are solved. Well, we’re not gun people here; that said, I am considering a small air gun in case we should ever have a fox situation.
More importantly, the groundhog serves a vital purpose. Yup, he has a job. I turns out that one of the ways in which foxes choose new homes is that they take over the holes dug and vacated by groundhogs. So….occasional purloined treats or a fox family living under the barn…hmmmmm….
I’ll take the groundhog, thanks.