Meet my husband, Carl Spackler.

22 Jun

“License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit – ever. They’re like the Viet Cong – Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote.” – Carl Spackler, Caddyshack

Most of the land around our house is wild. (Read: overgrown and unkempt until we decide what to do with it.) Brett pushed the lawnmower over the wilder patches this week to even things out and allow the girls to tromp around in the back. But let’s face it, it’s still just mowed weeds. We will conquer this problem eventually when we get to thinking more about landscaping, but for now the wildflowers and tall grass doesn’t bother me so much.

We do have a nice patch of lawn extending out from the side porch. This is my favorite porch and view. I like to sit out there with a glass of wine after work or a cup of tea before breakfast. (Those are in order of priority, of course, but at least it’s not a glass of wine before breakfast.) The vista is of the lawn and the field of tall purple foxgloves beyond it.

When we first looked at the house, we noticed a few patches of dirt on the lawn. We assumed it was from a dog because that is where the temporary dog run is located. We thought nothing of it at the time. However, over the past few weeks the lawn is turning more dirt patch than grass and we realized that we have a problem.

Now I have never seen patches like this in my life. I grew up in South Texas and I am not even sure that furry animals can live down there because of the heat. I’m sure they can but they didn’t tunnel in my neighborhood. Even if they did, I strongly doubt they could push up a mound under that thick patch of St. Augustine grass. My husband is no expert on tunneling varmints either, so we both assumed it was a mole and those were molehills. We began researching and investigating possible remedies.

Killing the rodent is a last resort and one that cannot be mentioned in front of the kids, especially one kid. Ainsley is the sensitive soul and cannot bear the idea of killing animals.This is the child who became vegetarian at the age of nine and who is deeply disturbed by our installation of an electric dog fence.  She even put on the collar and tested it on her wrist and is encouraging me to do the same. Uh…no thanks Ains.

This investigation is turning my husband in Carl Spackler.  The appropriate word is becoming obsession.  Without the option of killing the rodent for now, Brett is trying a mixture of pureed garlic and hot water and pouring it in the new mounds at night. This seemed to be working for a few days, but two new mounds appeared this morning. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him. I need to get him one of those hats Bill Murray wore as he wages his war.

Even more appropriately, I have learned that it is not a mole, but a gopher. (Hide the explosives!) Apparently, moles leave behind evidence of their tunnels, creating a pattern of lines on the lawn. Gophers just leave mounds that are turns in their underground tunnels. Also, getting rid of gophers is requires different methods than getting rid of moles. For moles, I have read everything from castor oil and water to high frequency sound generators to stuffing human hair into the tunnels. (Yuck!)

Gophers are altogether different culprits. They like vegetation and will often tunnel and eat your plants and bulbs from the root. We don’t notice this yet because we have no new plantings around the yard nor any vegetation that we pay much attention to right now.  And there are only two ways to get rid of them: kill them or repel them. A lot of sites I investigated said to learn to coexist with them. I will happily coexist with them. My lawn will not. I did also learn that the top four methods LEAST recommended for gopher elimination are: drowning them, blowing them up, gassing them and gumming them. That’s right, blocking their intestines with chewing gum. Some people have a lot of time on their hands. I would have thought that Molly and Baker’s presence as predators would have scared them away but apparently they already have Molly and Baker’s number.

For gophers, rodenticide is recommended.  Jenn, who has the same issue, told me yesterday that they sell it in gummy bear forms at True Value. I worry about kids and dogs though. I worry about me. What if I give the gophers the gummy bear vitamins and the kids the gopher poison! Trapping is another method and that one I will definitely have to leave to Brett because I can’t imagine dealing with a dead gopher. (See where Ainsley got it from?) There is another natural method for gophers which involves castor oil, Tabasco and peppermint oil that may be worth trying before poison or trapping. Also, mothballs. That may work as well.

We will not be shooting them, as one site suggested. ‘Just as effective as a trap and more fun.’ Perhaps there are gophers in Texas.

P.S. Brett aka Carl just came into the house singing that old camp song ‘Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts’.  Yum.


8 Responses to “Meet my husband, Carl Spackler.”

  1. Lynda April 17, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    If you have not already taken care of your gopher problem, go to the website for Wildlife Control and order a “black hole gopher trap”. It works fantastic (without baits or poison). Don’t be deceived by the word “trap”. There are no good outcomes for “Mr. GoFarr”!

    • Brandy April 17, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      Hi Lynda,

      Thanks for the reco! Will share with Brett and see how it goes. So far this spring they’ve been relatively inactive, but I am pretty sure it won’t stay that way!


  2. Christine June 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    We found a rat living in a large planter (full of dirt and plants) at one point during my teens years. My stepmother and I located its hole, poured boiling water in, and ran away screaming when it launched from the hole. My dad was ready with a shotgun but missed. So maybe don’t try those particular methods for your critters.

  3. Kate June 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    We had a gopher at our old house. The kids were little, we heard the neighbors complaining about a gopher, we didn’t think much of it. Until one evening, eating dinner at our picnic table, we saw a tomato plant shrinking. Before our very eyes, like a descending elevator, we watched as a gopher pulled that tomato plant down into the ground.
    Then that durn varmint popped up, in broad daylight, as if to say, “Ta! Catch you later!”
    Like you, we did not welcome the notion of rodenticide, but in the end, that is what we did. One application, no more problems.
    Good luck!

  4. Jennifer June 22, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    As a fellow Carl Spackler wanna be I have to agree with Andy. If it wasn’t for the fact that my yard would also be destroyed I would blow the little rat B****rd up. I am going to True Value for the gopher candy. You will find me one day with the appropriate gopher hunting attire and my cooler, sitting on my sidewalk plotting my revenge.

  5. Andy Pierce June 22, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    With Independence Day around the corner, I’m surprised Brett won’t just get some M80’s the shove down the holes. KABOOM! No more varmint.


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  2. Weekend Show and Tell | mid-century MODERN LOVE - October 3, 2011

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