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An unedited excerpt from a gardening novel in progress called ‘Mrs. Custer’s Garden’

May 28, 2010 -

Some times you just gotta give it up.

Last year I had gophers and moles for the first time ever in my current garden.  I’m trying different remedies however I spend lots of time in my garden which affords me the opportunity to practice population control with whatever sharp implement of cultivation happens to be at/in hand.  I love God’s creatures great and small, but when it’s a battle over who gets the food, I will fight to the death for my fair share of it at every opportunity.  I hate to brag but I’ve had years of practice.  Meet up with me in my garden for a fast meal little gopher and it could very well become your last meal little gopher.  You can have all the flowers you can stuff yourself with but leave our food alone!

I now designate a huge part of my garden to kid friendly things like sweet peas and cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, and ever-bearing strawberries just so my grandchildren will join me out there and develop a love, and the skills, for growing their own organic food.  And because this works I often have 2, 3, 4,and 5 year olds  out there with me which is the lead up to this story.

I had a particularly crafty little gopher who managed to escape my every effort to evict him last year before he and his wife added to the population.  They wiped out every single bed of my fall planted onions, potatoes, Garlic, and were working on the herbs, flowers and corn.  Through several different methods I had managed by the end of summer to get rid of almost all of them however the one that was left had taken to thumbing his nose at me on a regular basis.  I’d see him from across the yard or he’d poke his nose out of a hole and make that weird cherp/squeek they make and dash back to safety before I could get to him.

It was infuriating to watch my plants disappear or pull up a carrot with an inch or less of root attached while watching the water drain away from what was left of my delightful garden, into what I’m certain amounts to the gopher version of the Empire mine, depriving my poor thirsty summer veggies.

I had declared all out war on this guy.  We were arch enemies.  I was determined that nothing would stop me from my determined task.  That is however until one late summer eve my little Cierra came to say hello to me out in the yard.  I was picking dinner and she came to see what she could pick to snack on.

Now this is about the prettiest little 4 year old girl you can imagine.  With her father (my son) being an indian, she literally looks like a a bronze Shirley Temple doll with bouncing curls, cheek and chin dimples, and twinkly brown dancing eyes.  She just loooooooooooooooves animals.

So picture me with my digging fork in search of potatoes and twinkle toes right behind me, our backs turned to each other and she’s reaching up for a lemon cuke when I hear her exclaim breathlessly “Grama!  Look!”
As I turn around to see what she’s so excited about my eye beholds not 2 feet from me,
MY TORMENTOR!

Before I could raise my implement I hear again from this sweet little cherub, “Isn’t he cute?”

I cannot describe the scenes that raged through my mind as we stood and stared at the little beast.
Her standing between myself and this squatter, left me helplessly suspended between scenes of Disney’s Bambi and The Terminator.  How can this be!!!!

He, knowing he was in no danger at all, posed for her for at least a full minute (all the while I’m telling myself breathe Pam, breathe.)  Then slowly turning he sauntered back into his little den.  I’M SURE I SAW HIM FLICK HIS TALE AT ME AS HE DISAPPEARED.

With that she and I went back into the kitchen where grama proceeded to pour herself a glass of wine to relax and get her blood pressure back under control.

There was a time when my children and I HAD to live on what I could grow in our garden and fish out of the streams and lakes with my worms. They grew up with a ruthless mom who taught them how to deal with the problems of life.  But my grandchildren have never had to depend on such things and have never seen this dark side of their grandmother.  Gardens to their parents are a Hobie.  Becoming a Grama makes all things new.

So Mr. gopher enjoy a good chuckle while you can.  There’s a new day coming and I’ll be back.



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