Over six years ago, my husband and I started a DYI home improvement project in the form of a new back deck. To date, it’s still not 100% complete (and I might get in trouble for even mentioning that since it’s been a sensitive issue around these parts for some time now) but it has been fully functional for a number of years. This spring, we decided to add some plants at the outer edge of the back of the deck. Probably to trick us (read: me) into thinking it is 100% complete.
Neither my husband nor I have a particularly green thumb (although he has our lawn looking amazing so his must be a shade distinctly more chartreuse than my kill-an-ivy-houseplant one) so we researched and decided what would look good and thrive with the amount of sunlight in that section of the yard. We trekked to the fancy, expensive nursery where the staff are helpful and well informed, and we left with an assortment of grasses, colorful perennials, and soil.
Between the two of us, no less than a quart of our sweat was incorporated into the soil while we cultivated that small portion of our yard. We were proud of our work and eager to watch the plants grow – taller grasses in the back sloping down to shorter flowers in the front, carefully arranged by color. We fertilized and watered and nurtured the shit out of these plants. There was no way we were going to let our negligence lead to the downfall of yet another expensive nursery outing. (Because we’ve done that before. More than once. Stop making fun of me.)
This period of time coincided with the arrival of some fuzzy new neighbors. Because I get a little too excited at all things furry, I called my kids to the window every time I saw the woodchuck that lived under the neighbor’s shed lumbering around in the grass. “Hey, girls, our big fat friend is visiting!” I spent way longer than necessary gazing out the window like an imbecile saying really stupid things to the animals that can’t hear me “Hi, floof! What are you doing? Are you taking a little morning stroll?…” Imagine my excitement when I looked out one Sunday morning and saw Woody in the neighbor’s yard with four tiny duplicates. I just about lost my mind. Apparently Woody was female and had been busy, if you know what I’m saying. (wink wink) Not only were there exponentially more cute fuzzies to entertain me, but the growing family apparently needed to upgrade to the larger living space under our shed. I loved it.
And I loved it when I walked outside and surprised one of the rapidly growing babies near our deck’s back stairs. As I watched him clumsily run back to his safe haven under our shed, I thought “Oh they’re so comfortable with us and know how harmless we are that they’re getting closer to the house because we’re nice and friendly and like cute furry things!” I walked slowly to the back of the deck and carefully peeked to see if any of his siblings were there. No, there were no siblings. There was only utter destruction and devastation of our once thriving garden of beauty. It took me a fraction of a second to go from wanting to hand feed the tiny woodchuck to wanting to strangle the life out of him and his pernicious brood. Ok, that’s extreme — I at least wanted to sit them all down and give them a stern talking-to. But since they don’t understand English and I’m not fluent in any other languages, I turned to google for a humane solution. It’s not their fault we planted the filet mignon of perennials.
So now we’re banking on a concoction of spray and granules that yield a smell and taste to deter the rodents from further feasting in order to salvage what’s left. It came in the mail today so we’ll see if it does any good. Because as I type this, two of them are in the backyard prepping a buffet. Damn it!!! (They’re still painfully cute, though. But now when I see them I say the same stupid stuff, adding a serious “Stop eating our plants!” at the end. That’ll learn ’em.)
**Since my internet was down (thanks a lot, Comcast) I’m able to add an update before posting: There has most definitely been a decline in back yard woodchuck sightings, but I’m not sure if that’s due to the pellets and spray or the fact there’s nothing left for the critters to eat. The plants have yet to grow back. So, really, this update is useless. Carry on…