The sun is shining, it's up to 50*, and here I am tuckeled up in my silk thermals, cushy-comfy weather socks with woolen oversocks, thermal-insulted boots, thermal undershirt, and vest. I had my woolen fingerless gloves on, and my comfy cushy fleece-lined jacket, but it actually got too hot for them. I'm socking down cough & cold medicine, along with apple cinnamon herbal tea with a brandy-rum & "hot buttered rum" goop. I feel like dried up dog poop on a desert hiway. *gah* Me's'a really hates colds. Feels like everytime I swallow I have slivered glass grinding down my throat. *yuck* I can't wait to get off work, feed the Song Dogs, and go to bed. I know I could sleep for another twenty hours.
Groundhogs are cute as weather forecasters, but not as garden pests.
In Harold Ramis' Groundhog Day movie (1993), Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog, is pulled out of his burrow on February 2 and asked for his famous prediction: will spring arrive early this year, or procrastinate until March 21? The "Groundhog Day" movie's guru in charge of consulting this prognosticator of prognosticators claims to be translating from "Groundhogese" (the sacred language of Groundhog Day) when revealing Phil's mystic message to the Groundhog Day audience. Presumably, Punxsutawney Phil tells the guru whether or not he has seen his shadow in Groundhogese. Then the translating "Groundhog Day" movie's guru informs us ordinary mortals of the prediction.
In real life, Punxsutawney, PA is the home of Phil and of the Groundhog Day activities of which this furry oracle is the center. It is also home to the "Punxsutawney Groundhog Club" that pays homage to Phil. And Bill Cooper, President of the "Inner Circle" of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, is officially listed as the Groundhogese expert responsible for the translations from Groundhogese into English every Groundhog Day -- just like the "Groundhog Day" movie's guru. I do not jest; the following comes from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, itself:
Bill is the man charged with the daunting task of translating Phil's message in Groundhog-ese on Gobbler's Knob so that the forecast can be accurately delivered to Phil's followers.
If ever there were a personage who could answer the immortal question, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" then President Cooper would be the man.
Groundhog Day Language vs. Groundhog Sign Language
"Woodchuck" (Marmota monax) and "whistle pig" are other names for the groundhog, a rodent related to squirrels. And while this rodent's wood chucking abilities shall remain a mystery to all who are not fluent in the Groundhog Day language of Groundhogese, many a gardener is all too aware of the groundhog's ability to damage a garden. It thus behooves anyone considering gardening in groundhog territory to learn at least the sign language of groundhogs, if not Groundhogese itself. For, fortunately, gardeners don't have to communicate directly with groundhogs. It is enough for the gardener simply to be able to recognize groundhog sign language.
So don't be like Bill Murray's character (Phil Connors) in the "Groundhog Day" movie and ignore the signs that are all around you. For if you do, your garden, like the protagonist in the movie, will have no future! Through a sign language readily understood by wise gardeners, the groundhogs themselves translate all the Groundhogese of concern to gardeners into tangible signs in your backyard:
Groundhog Sign Language: A 10"-12" hole appears in the ground in your backyard or under your shed with mounds of dirt outside it.
Translation Into English: "A groundhog lives here."
Groundhog Sign Language: A cucumber in your garden has had a good-sized bite taken out of it.
Translation Into English: "Groundhogs like to eat vegetables."
Groundhog Sign Language: The feathery tops of the carrots in your garden have been mowed down.
Translation Into English: "Groundhogs don't just eat vegetables. We like to eat green succulent things, too, whether growing wild or in your garden."
Groundhog Sign Language: Your young fruit tree is being damaged by something gnawing at its trunk.
Translation Into English: "Remember, we're rodents. That means we have to gnaw to keep our teeth from growing too long. When I picture a perfect tooth-filer, what I see is your tender young fruit tree."
Groundhog Sign Language: The rat poison that you set out to try to kill the groundhog that's been raiding your garden hasn't been touched -- and you continue to observe damage in your garden.
Translation Into English: "You'll have to do better than that. I'm a groundhog, not a rat. I'm not stupid enough to eat poison. If you're going to set a trap for me, you'd better bait it with the same foods I'm raiding from your garden."
Assuming that you are grasping the essentials of groundhog sign language, on Page 2 we'll have a look at strategies for groundhog pest control in the garden. If you fail to take effective control measures against these garden pests, you'll find yourself reenacting the "Groundhog Day" movie in your own yard....
Punxsutawney Phil Strikes Again!
BUT! & but but but.... My Dear Friend Greig did a Ninja Tilling, and tilled me up a 50' X 20' patch of garden, and me's'a gonna add 5 yards of a yummy garden compost from work to it (sandy loam base, Ph neutral, composted chicken manure, composted steer manure, and composted fir bark) plus all the ashes from the garden burnings, and several wheelbarrows of sand. This will be my new tomato patch! (plus companion veggies. Have I mentioned this before? I'm excited!)
so me's'a sick. me's'a needs to get well. But me's'a has a new veggie garden! & Punxsutawney Phil has told us we are to have yet another 6 weeks of winter. Am I surprised? NOT at all!
Sniffling from Wolfdancer Creek