Of Mice and Men or is it Gophers

For more than two years I have felt more like  Bill Murray in Caddyshack than a gentleman gardener.  The pleasure of tending to lawns, gardens and shrubs has been spoiled by a rodent intruder.  Gophers are rodents right?  The battle raged almost daily as small mounds of dirt appeared overnight and tunnels caused depressions under the grass.  And, the failures mounted.  The gopher was winning big time!

I tried everything
  1. Rocks - Dug up the tunnels one by one and plugged them with rocks. 
  2. Sulfur bombs - They look like sticks of dynamite.  You light one, jam it into a gopher hole and quickly cover it with dirt.  The stinky smoke escaped on one bombing mission causing a neighbour to think they’d had a sewer back-up.  Sorry Paul and Carol-Lynn!  
  3. Water - In several frustrating attempts to get the critter, I opened up a new tunnel with the shovel, stuck the hose in the hole and ran the water for hours.  Here’s the creepy part.  The water just disappeared into the earth.  I never did see it flowing out anywhere.  The gopher or gophers must have dug a tunnel city under our backyard lawn. 
  4. Mouse and rat poison - The little so and so just kicked it all back to the surface.  Guess they don't like bacon flavoured warfarin. 
  5. The mighty pitchfork - I had to buy a new one.  Every day since the snow disappeared this spring, I pitchforked the mounds of dirt but never got lucky.  One day I even saw dirt being flung out of the hole but by the time I got there the little bastard was gone.  
  6. Exterminator - Talked to the guy by phone.  He told me that Pocket Gophers are common in Kelowna and one of the toughest rodents to get rid of.  He offered to take my money anyhow but instead just wished me luck.
Ugly buggers

Here’s a picture.  Check out the teeth.  They use them to dig.  A Pocket Gopher is about the size of a rat.  Pointed face, brownish fur, stubby tail, powerful front paws to move the dirt excavated by those teeth.  They seem to survive on the roots of the lawn and if they find your garden, expect some of your plants to simply disappear.  This year we lost a green pepper, a hot pepper and several lettuces.

A battle won

Wars are waged with a series of battles.  I’ve been the big loser in this war until recently.  We were erecting an above-ground pool when I saw something moving in the garden.  I grabbed my spade.  As quietly as possible I snuck up on the critter foraging for food.  Whack!  And, whack again.  One dead Pocket Gopher.  We stood there and cursed its very existence.  With a flick of the shovel, the carcass was launched into the field below our property.  That particular Pocket Gopher became Coyote food.


Was the Pocket Gopher working alone?  Was this the rodent responsible for my grief?  Will we now have a summer free of mounds of dirt?  Will the lawn grow back in the damaged area?  Has the gopher made me a little bit crazy?  Am I really just channeling Bill Murray?

Stay tuned!