Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Trophy Gopher and The Cowboy

Being a good farmer takes a certain type of personality.
 I don’t have it.
The Cowboy and I have raised cattle and hay for the last forty years usually with seventy or more acres of hay. 
I tend to be rather laid back when it comes to farming. 
The water will eventually get to the bottom of the field, right? Most of the hay will grow. What’s so hard about this?
On the other hand, the cowboy has an elaborate set of farming rules. 
We argued about, uh, discussed our differing opinions for several years until I found a job in town, and he farmed to his heart’s content.
One of the scourges of growing that much alfalfa is a small rodent called a gopher. 
They move into a perfectly nice field and have tons of babies. Each baby then digs holes at an unbelievable rate. As the irrigation water runs down the field and into a hole, it disappears. The area below the hole dries out, and the hay dies.

Now, real gophers aren’t cute like this one from Caddy Shack.
The cowboy wages all-out war on these burrowing invaders, checking his traps daily through the spring, summer and fall. During this time, he’s tried repeatedly to convince me that since my hands are smaller, it would be easier for me to set the traps in the narrow holes.
I’m proud to say I didn’t fall for this old cowboy con.
The county pays two dollars a tail and with three hundred gophers a year, this is a nice little side line. He saves the tails and cashes them in. The bodies are—well, let’s just say our dog, Dottie, is a gopher gourmet.
Three years ago, when he checked his trap line, he found he couldn’t pull the trap out of the hole. When the cowboy finally worked it free there was Humongo-Gopher. It was the biggest gopher he’d ever trapped. Maybe—no probably— the biggest gopher in the world.

He told his farmer and rancher friends about Humongo, and they scoffed. He was forced to take the body in for a viewing and was proved right. All agreed it was the biggest gopher they’d seen.
It was a fact.
We had a trophy gopher!
Now how many people can say that?
Since it was a trophy, we couldn’t feed it to the dog, so it went into the freezer to be preserved for posterity. Can you guess what happens next?
See, I don’t have much of a memory. If it isn’t in front of my face, I tend to forget it exists.
Because of that, I’ve spent the last three years calmly going to my big freezer to get meat for dinner only to be confronted each time I opened the door by long yellow teeth and curved claws. Humongo looked like he could leap off the shelf and attack. The only thing that kept me from jumping out of my skin was the fact he was enclosed in a Zip Lock bag.
Humongo finally went to the big gopher heaven in the sky this fall, and I no longer have to fear my freezer.
The Cowboy suggested we have a taxidermist mount Humongo and put him in the trophy room (TV room) with the Elk and Deer antlers and rodeo trophy saddles and buckles.
That’s where I put my foot down.
I guess in The Cowboy’s mind a trophy is a trophy but really, Humongo was just a super-sized rat.

Before I wrap up this blog post, I wanted to show one of Bill Murray’s methods for dealing with his gopher.
The Cowboy hasn’t resorted to this yet with his gophers.
He keeps the water for dealing with our badgers.
If you’re interested in more information on how cowboys deal with all kinds of problems, check out my 

1 comment:

Shanna Hatfield said...

Loved this post, Stephanie! From the time I was about ten until I left home, I was the designated gopher trapper. Glad you no longer have to fear your freezer!