I think it's high time we got all country up in here, don't you? We've had quite enough talk about motherhood and coffee makers and other non-rural topics for awhile. It's time to talk about some woodchucks.
The real ones, I mean, not the kind that plow driveways with busted bed springs.
This morning A. got a call from his sister regarding a live trap she had set for her neighbor to catch a woodchuck that was living under the neighbor's garden shed. The trap had caught a fox instead of the woodchuck, and A.'s sister was afraid to release the fox herself. So she called A.
This happens a lot. Something broken? A large piece of furniture to be moved? Wild animal to be dealt with? Call A.
He should start charging.
Since A.'s sister lives right in the village, I decided Cubby and I should go with him to see the fox. I'd never seen one close up before, and neither had Cubby. So we loaded up and drove over there, where we found a quite large and very angry gray fox in the trap. It was growling and lunging at A. while it was still in the trap, but as soon as he opened the door of the trap (by means of a stick of wood so he could stand back behind it), the fox shot out of there and ran off into the trees.
A fox, unlike a woodchuck, can be released like that because it will remember being caught and will not return to the scene.
Then A. re-set the trap in a more strategic location to try again.
While we were there, the older lady who lives in the house came out (but only after the fox was safely gone) to tell us how bad she felt about trying to catch the woodchuck that was destroying the foundation of their garden shed. I made a lighthearted comment about lending her our dogs and got a pretty horrified response.
Good thing she wasn't around later in the afternoon to see those very same dogs in action with another woodchuck.
A. was working on re-building the stone frame of the cellar door and Cubby and I were hanging around over there watching and "helping"*, so we were in a prime location to notice that Leda appeared to be camped out under the boundary hedge by the neighbors' driveway. She would occasionally start yelping in the manner the dogs do when they're hunting and Mia would rush over (Otty was tied up somewhere else, so she wasn't a player in this hunt). There's a fence right behind the hedge, so I thought they had a rabbit or something in a hole back there. Mia would eventually wander back out again, but Leda stayed back there.
I did go over there and look under the hedge at one point, but it's so thick I couldn't even see Leda, much less whatever she was hunting. So I shrugged and left her to it. This happened a couple of times, and finally A. went over himself to look.
He, being a little swifter than I am sometimes, thought to look up. And there he saw a woodchuck hanging in the hedge about eight feet up. I asked him if he was going to shoot it, but in keeping with his philosophy that there's no need for work on his part when the dogs are so willing to do it for him, he instead used a hoe to shake the hedge and make the woodchuck drop to the ground. We couldn't see what happened next, except for some shaking in the hedge, but we could hear the sounds of battle. And then Mia came trotting out with a large dead woodchuck in her mouth.
She ran off to chew on her prize and could be spotted at different locations about the house for the rest of the afternoon with the woodchuck in various diminishing stages of being eaten. It was really, really gross. At one point, when I was taking laundry off the line, I lost track of Cubby and found him a minute later standing on the lawn staring fixedly at Mia eating the now very bloody and extremely disgusting woodchuck.
Who needs Marty Stouffer and the lions of the Sarangeti when you have collies and woodchucks right in your own backyard?
* Stealing tools, dumping the watering can out so Daddy didn't have any water to mix with the mortar, throwing lily roots into the mixed mortar . . . the usual.