Last Laugh: Here Today, Gopher Morrow

When it comes to gophers, the score is in the rodent's favor.


| April/May 1999



173-112-01

Outwitting the enemy takes help from the family cat.


ILLUSTRATION: M.E. COHEN

While landscaping our new home, an iris nursery enchanted us: tangerine orange, sunshine yellow, vibrant violet, royal purple, midnight blue, even dainty peach. Before I knew what was happening, Ann, my dear wife, carried away by her passion, purchased $150-worth of iris rhizomes, dug up the inhospitable red clay and rock bed that was our front yard, added 0/10/10, chicken manure, and compost, and planted the irises.

Within days, I returned from work to find Ann looking visibly shaken, like someone who'd just happened by a particularly disturbing accident scene. She led me to the site of the carnage, where I beheld her ravaged iris garden: all six dozen rhizomes—gone. Ugly holes dotting the yard served as mocking reminders of the crime. Nearby piles of dirt suggested gophers. So, too, did the complete, utter, lightning-speed devastation.

Still, we refused to be discouraged. After all, lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, right?

Ann put me in charge of the immense backyard. I tore into the same red clay and rock bed, added fertilizer, and planted vegetable and flower gardens. After weeks of backbreaking labor, I tracked the progress of each shoot as if it were our firstborn.

What? Did I really see that tender tomato plant shake itself like a puppy emerging from a bath? Suddenly it submerged. Who hijacked my tomato?

I'd had enough. I drove to the neighborhood nursery to see Ed, my trusted garden expert. Before I'd finished my incoherent description, he said, "You've got gophers. They're everywhere around here. Look at this gopher trap—costs only $4.95 and it's the best. Follow the directions and you'll get those rodents."

I struggled with the instructions. A diagram displayed the main and lateral tunnels and the recommended placement of the trap, which was to be secured by a cord tied to a stake. The directions advised digging a hole to the main tunnel, but offered no clue on how to find it.





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