Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Olive Does Her Part (More or Less)

Don't read this if you are a city kid and tender-hearted about killing vermin. And don't even talk to me about non-kill traps. I don't kill animals unless they are a threat to people or my property.

Also, please note that the varmint in this story is not endangered. Wikipedia says so, and I soooooo much believe it, because it is always putting in an appearance around here.

There. Disclaimered enough for you?

This morning, as is my wont, I was out in the garden fairly early, digging holes and planting stuff. This time, it was gourds—Autumn Wings blend and Tennessee Spinning gourds, to be precise.

Harris Seeds Autumn Wings Gourds   Burpee Tennessee Spinning Gourds

And of course I was watering all the other stuff. Now, you may not know this, but the back two acres of my property, where I grow pumpkins and all that, runs uphill. It's at about a 30° angle. One of these days, I'd love to put in a long slide for kids, and if you have any ideas about how to do that, I'd love to hear them.

But anyway, the point is that watering all of this takes a lot of walking, and not on a flat surface, either. Especially because I planted the new gourds way at the back of the property where I hope they will climb the weeds and be ornamental as well as useful. And I hadn't hooked up a hose that goes that far, so I carried a five-gallon bucket of water all the way up the hill.

Do you know how much water weighs? I do. "A pint's a pound, the world around," as my mother says. How many pints are in a gallon? Okay, two pints to a quart, right? And four quarts to a gallon? So . . . eight pints per gallon. A jug of milk weighs eight pounds. Five of them weigh 40 pounds.

I'm not as strong as I used to be, and I don't do cardio—or anything but the pumpkin patch, really. By the time I had carried that water uphill and watered the gourds, I had already done my watering circuit: turned on the soaker for some of the gourds, dug holes and planted gourds uphill, walked back downhill and turned off the water, walked back to the soaker and unhooked it, walked back to the pump and turned the water back on, watered the corn, dragged the hose to some more gourds, watered them, walked back to the pump, turned it off, walked over to the hose, attached another hose in addition, walked back to the pump, turned the water on, dragged the hose over the fence and uphill, watered the big pumpkins, dragged the hose more uphill, remembered that I had to water some other gourds, dragged the hose around some more, watered those gourds, dragged the hose back uphill, walked back downhill, turned off the water, walked back uphill, attached the hose to the soaker for the medium-sized pumpkins, walked back downhill, and turned on the water.

Are you still with me?

I'm still soaked with sweat as well as water. And this is one reason that I get up early to work: it is hot this time of year! Or maybe it's just that I feel the heat more than I used to. But anyway, I was panting and my heart was beating hard by the time I'd finished all this!

Olive started barking midway through this watering circuit. She doesn't bark much. In fact, for a few weeks, I wasn't sure I had ever heard her bark. But she was barking a bunch of short, sharp barks, and she was in one of the groundhog areas.

Eventually I went over to where she was barking, whereupon she dashed away and got a huge drink of water. A large, fat groundhog started limping across the area where Olive had trampled the grass. I guess it had been hiding in a hole and decided to come out when she left. Either that, or it was so big that she figured she couldn't kill it. It was maybe twice as big as the groundhog she killed last time, and that one fit in a shovel, curled up.

It didn't seem to have the energy to go any farther than a few feet, and Olive didn't want to come back, no matter how much I called her. So I found a piece of wood that was big enough to hurt the thing but small enough for me to throw, and I threw it at the groundhog's head. It didn't move. I carefully picked up the chunk of wood, which had a nice long handle to it, and thumped it on the groundhog's head until—well, I'm pretty sure it's dead.

Olive still wouldn't come back. Darned dog. I want to tell her what a good dog she is. How do I do that if I can't show her what she did?

And why does she assume that I can kill big things that she can't? She probably wounded it. Why not finish off the job?

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