Sometimes living in the country means doing some things you'd rather not do, like deal with rodents that, like it or not, were here first and mean to stay. When we moved into this 1930's farmhouse, it was clearly sinking in the middle. A good 5" at least. The first time we looked at the house I went inside to look and Kevin walked around the outside and went straight to the crawl space and promptly UNDER the house. There he found the main 12" x 12" beam supporting the house eaten in two by termites. The resident groundhogs had dug up under the house leaving a nice pile of dirt which became the direct termite highway up to the main beam. From that point on we knew what we were in for in terms of renovating the house and that there might be a groundhog issue. Since then the broken beams have be replaced by 8 steel beams (how he did that and left the house standing I still don't know) and the once gutted house is a livable, quirky, work in progress.
For eight years we lived a peaceful coexistence with the groundhogs. I'd come down the stairs in the morning to find them sunning on the front steps, munching on my clematis and playing "you can't catch me" with the dog, Emma (may she rest in peace. she nabbed 3 of them while she was alive.) But last year we hit our breaking point.
First let me say that Kevin is a catch and release fisherman, he deplores hunting, he tosses bugs back outside still alive, he secretly sheds a tear if he hits a squirrel on the road. He isn't in the NRA, he's not particularly fond of guns and sickens at the sight (or mention) of blood (the labor and delivery room three times over was interesting but I digress). But last year we experienced what happens when a skunk finds its way under the house and encounters the groundhogs that have been there for upwards of 70 years. Not once, not twice, but three separate times we awoke in the wee hours of the morning to eyes burning, vomit forming and stomachs churning all because of the skunk spraying under the house. When I took Lauren to school and walked past the preschool director who said, "WHOO! Do you smell that skunk?" I was mortified. It was then Kevin said goodbye to his pacifist persona and started looking a little more like Bill Murray.
We've since said farewell to one large skunk, and at least 3 groundhogs. Three still live around here. One under the pole barn, one under the tool shed, and yes, still the big one under the house who, just this evening was catching some rays on the front steps. Lauren alerted her dad, he snuck outside (this is the trick) and set up shop. It's unfortunate that this is my Earth Day post, but it's just what happened here today. But as luck or fate would have it, this groundhog will live to see another day.